Whenever I think of Valentines Day, I always think of chocolate, teddy bears, and lots of roses. However, of course all these things have more to do with the commercial idea of this holiday and nothing to do with the actual history of Saint Valentine. Saint Valentine had one very specific message during his lifetime and that’s ultimately the reason we have this holiday. What is that message? Not roses, not chocolate, and not teddy bears.
Saint Valentine was a Roman priest during the reign of the emperor Claudias. Claudias was not in support of the church or any of their practices during the time of his reign. During his time as emperor, Cluadias had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young couples. This was due to his belief that unmarried soldiers fought harder than married soldiers in battle because married soldiers were afraid of what would happen to their wives and children if they died.
This obviously presented many problems in the Christian church because the priests knew that marriage between a man and a woman was sacred, and not only that, but marriage was meant to be encouraged! This was a very hard trial for many of the Christians at the time, especially the soldiers fighting in war, which is why Saint Valentine chose to do something about it.
Saint Valentine spent many years performing marriages for young couples in secret until he was eventually caught and imprisoned. At this point, news had spread that Saint Valentine was imprisoned and tortured, which was incredibly heartbreaking for all those he converted during his lifetime. In the year 269 AD, Valentine was put to death. Before he died, he left a note for the daughter of Asterius signed, “From your Valentine.”
Saint Valentine knew, even eighteen hundred years ago, what was worth fighting for. I’m sure he was afraid of the consequences that would come if he continued performing marriages for couples in secret, but he knew that the fight for love and marriage was not one he was ready to lose. Whenever I think of this story, I’m reminded of one of my favorite scriptures from Moroni Chapter 8 that says, “Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear.” (Moroni 8:16)
In John 4, there is another verse that says almost the same thing: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” (John 4:18-19)
Over time, I have grown to more fully understand and love these scriptures. What Moroni said could not have been more true! Loving others is a bold move on our part, but that love is the only thing that can ever truly cast out our fears. Heavenly Father loves us more in one instant than we could ever love anyone or anything in our whole lives, and that love is what dispels fear. Loving others takes courage. Saint Valentine knew it, our Savior Jesus Christ knows it, our Heavenly Father knows it, and so do we. Fear not what man can do, for all of that fear will be made perfect through love.
Heavenly Father’s sole purpose for sending us here was that we would know the joy of being loved and having families! Like John says, “We love Him because He loved us first.” That love for us is so manifest through the atoning sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. When our Heavenly Father sent His son to take upon him the sins of the world, He was giving us the most heartfelt and precious gift that could have ever been given. And in return, He asks us simply to love one another. As we learn to let the love of God more fully abound in our lives, our fears will seem insignificant in comparison. No amount of teddy bears, roses, or chocolates could ever satisfy the human heart the way that love does.