St. Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year. It is a lovely and romantic day, and I am sure that my readers have some wonderful memories of St. Valentine’s Day. I still get nostalgic about those silly, penny cards we would get in elementary school. A dear friend of mine intended to propose to his girlfriend in Verona, Italy, on the balcony of a home-turned-museum that is said to have inspired Shakespeare’s House of Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. Unfortunately, my friend’s father became ill, and so he had to cancel their trip to Italy. Undaunted, he arranged to have large model of Rome’s Trevi Fountain built, which was set up in her parents’ front yard. And there he proposed to her with the fountain flowing. Of course, his girlfriend was shocked. (By the way, she did accept his marriage proposal.) Nice story, eh? St. Valentine’s Day is, of course, a holiday that is more than about romantic love, and is deeply rooted in Christian tradition. The day commemorates one or more Christian martyrs named Valentinus. One of the better known stories is of Saint Valentinus of Rome, who was a priest and physician. St. Valentius was imprisoned for performing weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Emperor Claudius Gothicus decreed that his soldiers could not marry as he believed unmarried soldiers were better fighters. He thought that married soldiers might be more concerned about what would happen to their wives and families if they were killed in battle. Although ancient Rome was a morally permissive society, the Church considered marriage as sacred between one man and one woman for life, and encouraged marriage. And St. Valentinus secretly married the soldiers. So when he was caught, St. Valentinus was imprisoned and tortured. The story is told that one of his jailers was Asterius, whose daughter was blind. St. Valentinus prayed with the young girl, and she regained her sight. As a result, Asterius became a Christian. In 269 A.D., St. Valentinus was sentenced to die because of his stand in support of traditional Christian marriage. In one of his last acts, he wrote a letter to the daughter of Asterius, concluding “from your Valentine.” But St. Valentine’s Day is not merely about romantic love, as it should also remind us of God’s love. Jesus commanded us to love God, and to love our neighbor. For Christians, love is not something one earns; rather, it is given freely.
So, what do women want for St. Valentine’s Day? Of course, few of us have the perspicacity to plan a romantic trip to Verona, or to build a replica of the Trevi Fountain. But one could reasonably expect that Valentine’s Day might be accompanied by a romantic dinner and card, chocolates, flowers, and jewelry. But according to Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, nothing says St. Valentine’s Day better than an abortion. She recently tweeted this vine showing what women truly want for St. Valentine’s Day: https://vine.co/v/Ma3Z9rqH56e. Yes, that’s correct. Between “cancer screenings” (which are only a small fraction of Planned Parenthood services) and “well woman visits,” is abortion. And to think, I thought St. Valentine’s Day was about celebrating love, and not about tearing apart an unborn baby. So, on this St. Valentine’s Day, let us remember the example of St. Valentinus who teaches us that there could come a time when we might have to lay down our lives for what we believe about Christian marriage.