Saturday, February 14, 2015

THYME Magazine: The Man Behind the Day

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IX, Issue VIa

The Patron Saint of Love has been advertising nonstop for the past week. Today is the day we celebrate young love and romance. But the day we celebrate has special significance for the Christian church as it is a remembrance of a man who upheld the sacred institution of marriage and paid the ultimate price for doing so. In the days of Roman Emperor Claudius II, there lived a priest named Valentine. Believing that unmarried soldiers fought better, being unencumbered by thoughts of family, Clauias issued an edict forbidding young people to marry. In a decadent empire, this would not necessarily require celebacy, but cleaving to another in lifelong commitment was forbidden!

This would most affect the young Christian church, who upheld the sacredness of marriage and family. Valentine felt that young people should be encouraged to marry within the Christian church so he secretly performed the marriage ceremonies for young couples anyway. Eventually he was caught, imprisoned and tortured for doing so.

One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result." -- Father Frank O'Gara  [1.]

A cruel execution was ordered for Valentine. In 269 AD he was beaten, stoned and finally decapitated. Before he died, it is said, he was able to write a last letter to Asterius' daughter.  He signed it: "From your Valentine," inspiring the notes of affection we send our loved ones today! His is a very real story of sacrificial love and devotion to G-d's ways. Though much of his history is not clear, and several churches claim to have his bones. One is Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, where Father O'Gara (quoted above) is the Pastor. He says: "Love -- human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by G-d -- but also the shadow of the cross. That's what Valentine means to me."

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