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St. Valentine’s Day Legend




In the Golden Legend

The Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine, compiled about 1260 and one of the most-read books of the High Middle Ages, gives sufficient details of the saints for each day of the liturgical year to inspire a homily on each occasion. The very brief vita of St Valentine has him refusing to deny Christ before the “Emperor Claudius”[25] in the year 280. Before his head was cut off, this Valentine restored sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer. Jacobus makes a play with the etymology of “Valentine”, “as containing valour”.

There are many other legends behind Saint Valentine. One is that in the 1st century AD it is said that Valentine, who was a priest, defied the order of the emperor Claudius and secretly married couples so that the husbands wouldn’t have to go to war. Soldiers were sparse at this time so this was a big inconvenience to the emperor. Another legend is that Valentine refused to sacrifice to pagan gods. Being imprisoned for this, Valentine gave his testimony in prison and through his prayers healed the jailer’s daughter who was suffering from blindness. On the day of his execution he left her a note that was signed “Your Valentine.”’s_Day 



It seems that there were several St. Valentines in history, more than one of them being tortured and executed for their “Christian” leanings.  Although we complain of today’s violence, it appears that murder and mayhem is part of the human species as depicted in today’s political chaos.  Somehow the “history” of those early martyrs   has been lost and we envision St. Valentine  as a  “loving” February Santa Clause.

Early Memories:  In school, eons ago, we had a Valentine Box and exchanged with each other, always counting how many we received.  Social mores began to dictate:  Everyone didn’t get the same number of valentines, some receiving none.  Those left out felt bad.   It was not fair, besides it was a “religious” tainted custom, had very little to do with “love”  and thus has been discontinued.




Our grandchildren still make the crayon/lace cutouts to send to friends and family and look forward to receiving their own Valentines, a warm statement of affection.

Today Valentine’s Day has become a “economic” boon for florists, jewelers, chocolate and other “luxury” items.  It has become an act of measuring the depth of “love” we have for one other often times tied to the $ amount of the gift.


My husband did not get the “Valentine” gene!  He huffs and puffs and rebels against the hype.  Oh, on occasion he has brought the dozen roses, but somehow the  “warm Rosesfuzzy”  doesn’t flow through me knowing how he feels about the holiday.  I won’t deny that it has taken me years to immune myself, to admit to my friends that I got “nothing,” and to hear their “clucking” of sympathy, or the fact that he doesn’t call me when gone for weeks on a ski trip.  He doesn’t love you, my Ego whispers (I’ve learned my Ego is not my friend.)  It’s not that he doesn’t surprise me.  For instance, the package delivered when he was away skiing that time.  The Beaver jacket, so warm and soft, the hood framing my surprise in the mirror.  His gifts are usually far more practical:  the tiller for my garden, the vacuum for downstairs, so you won’t have to lug the vacuum up and down.  

Why do I smile when there are no roses adorning my table?  After almost sixty years, I have learned to read between the lines and appreciate his little acts of love.  The gentle scratching of my back just before we fall asleep, the clearing and cleaning of the kitchen after our guests have gone, the washing and vacuuming of my car, unsolicited.  Words of love are just that, and appreciated, of course, but it is  the “act” that carries the “love” message through almost 60 years.




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