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Greater Love Hath No Man

History tends to be confusing and vague, but despite several different possibilities for his identity, it is believed that the actual Valentine who inspired this holiday was a priest during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius II.

Valentine, or Valentinus is credited, along with St Marius and his family, with assisting the Christian martyrs during their persecution by Claudius. At that time it was a crime to provide aid and comfort to Christians. Claudius had also issued an edict forbidding marriage. He believed married men made poor soldiers because they grew attached to their families. Therefore, to guarantee a steady supply of soldiers for his empire, Claudius abolished marriage and cancelled all engagements.

Valentine invited young lovers to come to him in secret, where he joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. Claudius learned of this "friend of lovers," and had Valentine brought before him. The emperor, impressed with the young priest's dignity and conviction, attempted to convert him to the Roman gods to save him from otherwise certain execution. Valentine refused to renounce Christianity and instead, attempted to convert the emperor, thereby signing his death warrant.

Thrown into a dungeon, and tended by a jailer named Asterius, the young priest had only the barest necessities of life. His one comfort while awaiting execution was his friendship with Asterius' blind daughter. She befriended the kindly priest by bringing him food and delivering messages for him.

In the last days of his life, Valentine, through his deep and abiding faith, miraculously restored the sight of the jailer's daughter. He also converted Asterius and his daughter to Christianity, an act which would result in their eventual execution by Claudius.

On the eve of his execution the priest wrote a farewell message to the girl and signed it "From Your Valentine," a phrase that would live on long after its author died. He was beaten and beheaded on February 14th, 273 AD/CE, outside the Flaminian Gate (now the Porta del Popolo but known for a time as the Porta Valentini) in Rome. According to legend, a pink almond tree, a symbol of abiding love, blossomed near his grave.

In the 4th century Pope Julius I built a church in honor of Valentine. In the 7th century Pope Honorius I restored it and it became a very popular pilgrimage site.

The valentine has become the universal symbol of friendship and affection shared each anniversary of the priest's execution -- Valentine's Day. Valentine has also become the Patron of those couples who are engaged to be married.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15.13)

 

The Story of St. Valentine
As Told by Sivananda-Valentina

St. Valentine was a scholar, was a philosopher, was a seeker and was a finder; he found in Christ the utmost Authority. He was not subscribing to formal Christianity and therefore, he was opposed by the strong of this world and he was thrown in prison. Paradoxically, there isn't a single saint who was not, somehow, somewhere, somewhen, either persecuted or suffered from some asuric opposition, either inner or outer. Well, Valentine was not an exception. He was thrown into prison, but the prison did not break his spirit, - rather, he uplifted the whole environment. Wherever was heard his sweet and gentle voice, his elegant speech; wherever was his beautiful smile; wherever it was, there was Light. To such an extent he was outstanding, that even the tough man in charge of the prison was very, ver moved. That man in charge of the prison had a blind girl, his only daughter, and he decided to bring this girl and to take an opportunity of such great proximity as Valentine - such a scholar and such a gentleman, who could, perhaps, educate the girl - she was so handicapped, being blind from her birth.

The girl came and a true, strong friendship and affinity was established. He was a remarkable teacher, but she was a remarkable student, so there was a perpetual exchange of gratitude and devotion on one side, and guidance of the other side - care, attention, inspiration, you know very well, bring marvels. That is to remind you also about Guru-disciple relationship, for verily, that is what it was between the two. Whenever there is true attention on the part of the student, true receptivity, the preceptor is inspired by that receptivity and Guru Sakti is pouring doubly, whereas, when the student is half-hearted, or too full of himself, instead of being full of the preceptor, then definitely, progress is arrested.

In the case of Valentine and his little disciple, there was perfect harmony and intenseness. He transmitted very much - art, science, religion. He talked much about god to her. Once, after their lessons, when they were silent, the little girl touched his hand and said, "Valentine, I want to see you. I want to see you. I am so grateful to you. I have to see, to see you smile, your eyes, your whole being. I want to see yo. I want to see things which you describe to me.

Valentine: "I don't know. I don't know. We should not beg God, but we can give our hearts to God. Let's try, we'll pray together. Our prater will be the giving of our heart. God knows what you need, and if that be the best thing for you, He will give sight to you. If that be not the best thing for yo, He will not answer our prayer." Ardently, silently, intensely, the two pure hearts were submitting themselves to the Supreme Power... Suddenly, the girl exclaimed, "Valentine! I see you! I see light. I see everything. Valentine! ...Next day, Valentine was sentence to death. He left a note:

"I LOVE YOU,
your Valentine."

***

 

 


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