St Peter's 13-18
Happy Valentine’s Day. As you may know, Valentine was a real person - a priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II. Under the rule of Claudius, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.
To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.
When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.
Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine.”
The tradition of sending cards or love letters probably dates from this and I am indebted to Dr Dunn for sharing with me a copy of the earliest note Valentine’s Letter written in February 1477. If you are still trying to find the words to write to your Valentine, this may be of some use.
Unto my right well-beloved Valentine John Paston, squire, be this bill delivered.
Right reverent and worshipful and my right well-beloved valentine, I recommend me unto you full heartedly, desiring to hear of your welfare. And if it pleases you to hear of my welfare, I am not in good health of body nor of heart, nor shall I be till I hear from you. For there knows no creature what pain that I endure, And even on the pain of death I would reveal no more.
But if you love me, as I trust verily that you do, you will not leave me therefore. For even if you had not half the livelihood that you have, I would not forsake you. And if you command me to keep me true wherever I go, indeed I will do all my might, you to love and never anyone else.
My heart me bids evermore to love you truly over all earthly things. No more to you at this time, but the Holy Trinity have you in keeping. And I beseech you that this bill be not seen by any non-earthly creature save only yourself. And this letter was written with full heavy heart, by your own Margery Brews.
You may also like to know that Valentine is very busy, as well as being the Patron Saint of young people, engaged couples, happy marriages, love and lovers he is also the Patron Saint of fainting, plague, travellers, epilepsy and bee-keeping so if you feel he is not answering your prayers, be patient as he has a lot in his inbox. Also, do not forget that the love you give is as important as the love you receive and Valentine’s Day is a good reminder to think of the various relationships we have whether they be with partners, family or friends.
One thing in life is for certain, love does indeed make the world go round and when it comes down to it, all you need is love so I would like to thank the Community Action group for their fundraising and chapel yesterday and wish you all a very happy Valentine’s day.