The legend of St. Valentine is somewhat shaky. Like St. Claus, or Santa Clause, the story of the Catholic Saint has been commodified and adopted by our broader, secular, culture. Commodified and nearly wiped of religious association, these skeleton stories of Christian devotion are taught in elementary schools around the world and make restaurants, stores, and flower companies billions of dollars annually.
The legacy of St. Valentine is: beware of tyrannical rulers and maintain a watchful eye of your government, and, when that government eventually comes for you, commit civil disobedience to stand up for liberty.
Saint Valentine was martyred in roughly, 269 AD during the reign of Claudius II. Medieval legend recorded nearly a thousand years after his martyrdom say that he was put to death by the emperor himself. However, it’s more likely that a regional prefect was acting according to a policy set by the government or Emperor.
At the time, Rome was a superpower, still trying to enlarge and stabilize the empire. Claudius II would have been off at war during the time of Valentine’s execution. Christians, Jews and other mystery cult movements were treated somewhat like street gangs and likely not given a ton of specific thought or attention by the conquering Emperor.
Christians were sometimes considered harmless by the government and other times treated as a major security concern. The attitude towards religious minorities in Rome changed from decade to decade with the taste of the sitting emperor and vengefulness of regional overseers.
The Roman Empire accomplished great things, indoor plumbing and heating being two systems that even America didn’t have widely available until nearly 2000 years after the Romans. For all of their brilliance, the Romans couldn’t produce an enduring document to stabilize their empire like the United States Constitution.
Valentine’s Day is about one man’s commitment to Jesus Christ and the Church and it also serves as a reminder to the unique document that protects American citizens from religious persecution. Americans are very blessed to live in a time of relative peace in a country where our communications and worship practices aren’t catalogued by the police.
Just this month in China, Dr. Li Wenliang, who first alerted the public to the Coronavirus outbreak, was silenced by the Chinese government for causing panic and identifying symptoms in his patience. Like the Claudius II, the overbearing police force in China also has to deal with political dissenters. The doctor didn’t comply, so the police censured him. Sadly, he contracted the virus treating patients and recently passed away. St. Valentine was martyred ministering the message of Jesus Christ, and Dr. Li Wenliang also died trying to save souls.
It’s easy to make fun of the heart shaped candy and Charlie Brown movies, but remember that having a fun day representing a mixing of cultures and remembering the tradition of rebellious dissenters is at its heart, entirely good.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.