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DEVOTIONAL: Saint Valentines Day

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.               –John 15:13

When we think of “Christian holidays,” many people immediately think of Christmas and Easter, but did you know the faith-based origins of Valentine’s Day?

No one knows for sure how Valentine’s Day began, but the most popular story comes from the time of the Roman Empire, about 2,000 years ago. At one time, a Roman emperor made it illegal for his soldiers to get married. The emperor thought that single men made the best soldiers. He believed if a man were married and had children, then his mind would be more on his family and less on fighting (and possibly dying) for the emperor.

However, according to a popular legend, an early Christian leader named Valentine broke the unjust law and performed secret weddings in order to help young couples in love. Finally some guards caught him and put him in jail. While in prison, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and wrote her letters signed, “from your Valentine.” Allegedly, this is how the tradition of sending Valentine cards began. The legend continues that the authorities executed Valentine on February 14 for breaking the emperor’s edict. Since he died trying to serve God and help people, the church leaders gave him the title “Saint Valentine.”  February 14 later became his “holy day” and is now the holiday. Many people are surprised to learn that the word “holiday” comes from “holy day.”

So, amid the chocolates, cards and roses, remember the faith origins of Valentine’s Day. And are you looking for that “special someone,” or feeling the pain of loneliness or lost love? Remember that God loves you the most. He loved you enough to send his Son Jesus to earth to suffer and die on a cross, to open for you the way to heaven.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

–S.G.D.

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