The First Valentine

Robert Strand

The story of Valentine's Day begins in the 3rd century with an oppressive Roman Emperor, Claudius II, and the Christian martyr was Valentinus. Claudius had ordered all Romans to worship 12 gods and he made it a crime, punishable by death any Christians who refused. Valentinus was devoted to Christ and refused to worship false gods so he was imprisoned and sentenced to die.

blooming-rose-1446185-mDuring the last weeks of Valentinus' life, the jailer knew he was an educated man, asked if he could bring his daughter, Julia, for tutoring. She had been blind since birth but had a quick mind. So Valentinus read her stories of Rome's history and told her about God. She, for the first time began to see the world through his eyes.

"Valentinus, does God hear our prayers?" Julia asked one day.

"Yes, my child, He hears each one," Valentinus replied.

"Do you know what I pray for every morning and night? I pray that I might be able to see. I want so much to see everything you've told me about."

"God does what is best for us if we believe in Him," he replied.

"Oh, Valentinus, I do believe," Julia said, "I do!"

"Valentinus, I can see! I can see!"  She grasped his hand. They sat quietly, she kneeling, he sitting, each praying.

Suddenly there was a brilliant light in the prison cell! Radiant, Julia screamed, "Valentinus, I can see! I can see!"

On the eve of his death on the next day, Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia urging her to continue her learning and encouraging her to worship God the rest of her life.

He signed it: "FROM YOUR VALENTINE!"

His death sentence was carried out the next day, FEBRUARY 14, 270 AD.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (I Corinthians 13:13)!