Like love, St. Valentine is a bit of a mystery. Many of the associations with Valentine have accumulated over centuries, but there really was a Valentine. Archeologists have found a Roman catacomb and church dedicated to him. Today, in addition to being the supposed reason for all those chocolate hearts and roses, he also is the patron saint of beekeepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, travelers, young people, and plague.
Legend holds that Valentine’s Day is associated with romantic love because Valentine fell in love with the blind daughter of his jailer (or judge, depending on the source). He supposedly signed his letter to her, “from your Valentine,” and restored her sight. Both Chaucer and Shakespeare helped romanticize the holiday through their work.
Whatever the case, it’s always a good thing to celebrate love. Each one of us is a child with whom God is well pleased, in whom God takes pleasure and delight, not because of who we are or what we do, but simply because we exist.
Frank Griswold, a former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, observed that “God’s imagination is fierce and wild when it comes to determining who belongs in relationship with whom.” The Episcopal Church wrestled with that reality on its journey to approving liturgies for same gender marriages, which it did in 2015.
Loving others takes courage, for love always carries with it the risk of loss. But we are never alone in our love, for God walks with us, wrapping us up in eternal love and care.