Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Little Way Chapel blog and is shared today with permission. —Allison
Who was St. Valentine?
We know very little for certain about the historical Saint Valentine, but these three things are undisputed: That he was a bishop or a priest, that he lived under the 3rd century Roman persecution, and that he was martyred for being a bold witness of God’s unfailing love. All the rest is legend, but they are good ones at that! Here are the two most popular stories explaining Valentine’s association with what we now celebrate as Valentine’s Day:
As a bishop, Saint Valentine secretly performed Christian weddings against the order of the the pagan Roman emperor, which is how Valentine’s day became associated with Romantic love.
Another legend claims that after refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods, Valentine was imprisoned. While behind bars, Valentine evangelized the jailer, and then healed the jailer’s daughter of her blindness. On his execution day, he wrote the girl a note signing it, “Your Valentine.”
Saint Valentine’s Day at Home
We keep things pretty simple in our house on Valentine’s Day, making the requisite cards for family and friends, and giving a few small gifts to the kids. I like for at least one of those small gifts to be Saint Valentine related, such as a book, a saint doll, or a print with a saint quote.
For breakfast, I’ll make something special—either heart shaped pancakes (always my go-to) with red strawberries on top, or heart shaped cinnamon rolls, which are pretty simple to make by peeling apart and reshaping canned rolls. We eat breakfast while following the lesson and prayers laid out below.
If I’m feeling fun, I may cut out 15 hearts and write all the adjectives of love found in 1 Corinthians 13 (patient, kind, does not boast, isn’t proud, etc…), hide them and let the kids go on a “heart hunt.” They can bring those hearts to the breakfast table and we’ll pull them out when we read 1 Corinthians 13 below. I’m thinking we’ll hang those hearts up on banner with clothespins and pull down one for each remaining day of February to talk about what that descriptor of love means and how we can embody it that day. The number works out perfectly if you start on Valentine’s Day!
Plus, if y’all reviewed the day’s prior in addition to the new heart each day, by the end of the month you’d have the whole passage memorized. I see nothing but wins here.
Valentine’s Day Liturgy
Light Red Taper Candles
We light these red candles today, because red is the color of love. But red is also the color of martyrdom, the color of blood spilled out for love. On Valentine’s Day, we remember the saint who gave his life in love of God and others. And we remember how Jesus gave his life for us.
Dear God, we thank you for this food, and for your servant, Valentine, who shared your love with everyone he met. Fill us with your your love so that it spills out to everyone we meet today. Amen.
A Reading from 1 Corinthians
How do we know what love is? Because St. Paul tells us:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Over breakfast, I’ll share the two legends of Saint Valentine, or read this book if it arrives in time.
Oh How He Loves You and Me (verse 1, Instrumental with lyrics here)
Oh how he loves you and me,
Oh how he loves you and me,
He gave his life
What more could he give?
Oh how he loves you,
Oh how he loves me.
Oh how he loves you and me.
Loving Father, we thank you for the witness of your faithful servant, Valentine. Make our love brave like his, unwavering in the face of hate and anger, willing to count the cost and sacrifice for others. And, like your holy saint, may your love shine brightly through us, giving sight to the blind, and healing to the broken hearted. Amen.
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