The Origins of Valentine's Day - This is Real Love

In the days of the Roman Empire, there was a time when an order of pagan priests would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the perceived founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat for fertility, and a dog for purification.

After the goat was sacrificed – boys, or young men, would slice the goat's hide into strips, dip them in the sacrificial blood and take them to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Maybe they could use this suggestion on the next season of The Bachelor. 

This was the pagan fertility festival, known as Lupercalia, celebrated on February 15.  

Then the Roman Empire accepted Christianity … and yet many who followed Christ would still get drawn into these pagan festivals. In his letters to the Corinthians Paul warned them not to return to these feasts. 

The Church - Remember that there was a time when there was only one church – decided that this Roman “lottery” system for romantic pairing was unchristian and the practice was outlawed.

Today is February 14 - Valentine’s Day – It’s not just Valentine’s Day – It’s SAINT Valentine’s Day.  

Why do we have a Valentine’s Day?  Why is it on the calendar?  How did it all get started?  Does it have anything to do with my Christian life?  

This day is not named after Rudolph Valentino.

There are various LEGENDS about St. Valentine – the history is so old, and it is not biblical, so we can’t really be sure what is true and what is embellished legend alone, but as I did some reading some things stand out and some things kept coming up over and over again – there must a seed of truth –

There was a man named Valentine – or Valentinus –There may have been more than one – some say 3 – some say 7 – some say the stories of the various men named Valentine are really speaking of only one man.  

Saint Valentine’s Day became a “Holy Day” – or a Feast Day of the Church around 498 A.D. by Pope Gelasius. Some say the Pope did this to establish another Christian holiday to take the place of the pagan holiday … but that stills begs the question – who is this Saint Valentine that the holiday was named for – and does it have anything to say or to do with us?

The parts of the story that seem to be weaved through all the legendary accounts is that there was a man named Valentine who was a priest in Rome during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius II who reigned from 268 to 270 A.D., and like others, persecuted Christians … He was also known as Claudius the Goth and Claudius the Cruel.  

Rome was at the time involved in many bloody and unpopular wars, so the emperor found it difficult to recruit the male populace into joining his military. He believed this to be because the men did not want to leave their families, so Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in the City of Rome. Saint Valentine and Saint Marius, however, continued to perform wedding ceremonies in secret. When it was discovered that Saint Valentine was defying the emperor's decree, he was arrested and sent by Claudius to the Prefect of Rome who attempted to get Valentine to renounce Christianity. Valentine refused, so it was ordered that Valentine be clubbed, stoned and then beheaded. According to tradition, while Valentine waited in prison for his execution, he corresponded with those under his care by sending letters and love notes to his parishioners.

It seems that Valentine met the daughter of a jailer – some accounts say they met before he was arrested – others say after – Some say he fell in love with the girl – others say he taught her – but all accounts indicate that her name was Julia and that she was blind –

Some accounts say that God used Valentine to restore the girl’s sight – another account says that her sight came upon his death.  

It is said that his last note to her, he urged her to stay close to GOD, and he signed it "From Your Valentine." His sentence was carried out the next day, February 14, 270 A.D.

When the jailer went home, he was greeted by his little girl. The little girl opened the note and discovered a yellow crocus inside. The message said, "From your Valentine." As the little girl looked down upon the crocus that spilled into her palm she saw brilliant colors for the first time in her life!

How much is true?  How much is legend?  We don’t really know – but there was at least one man named Valentine – who was a leader in the church – who stood up to the oppression of Rome – who seems to have stood for the sanctity of God-ordained marriage – and whom God used in healing and encouragement.  

I do know this for sure – I know what real love is: 

1st John 4:7-11 - Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 

The Bible gives us three truths about real love:


1st John 2:15-17 - Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

A pastoral counselor, Dr. Richard Dobbins, wrote about a young lady who left his office in tears.  She was young, frail, and burdened.  She was unmarried, still in college, fearing she might be pregnant.  Her fear was also mingled with guilt and shame.  


He also wrote about a trip to Africa where he had given an annual presentation at a Bible school on sexually transmitted diseases, and noticed a young man standing by a palm tree. He almost missed him in the darkness of the night.  The young man said, “Please, sir.  I think I have that disease you talked about tonight.  Can you help me?”


Another couple came to the pastor – he said he had never met with a better looking couple – but they were coming to him after filing for divorce.  She said that they had met in college and had lived together for several months before marriage.  Now several years into the marriage, she said she could no longer trust him.  When asked why, she said, “I remember how easy it was to get him into bed with me, and I can’t get it out of my mind that another woman could get him just as easily as I did.  I can’t live with a man I cannot trust.”  

Promiscuity – just one form of false love – has been with us since the book of Genesis, but our culture continues to promote the lie that you can go ahead and fulfill all your physical cravings and desires with no consequences – use contraception – many in the culture argue that abortion is just another form of contraception – sex is nothing more than a fun, recreational activity –

"If you love me – you’ll have sex with me!"

That is false love - not real love!  That’s not the kind of love Valentine died for!  

Go to most college campuses today – even so-called Christian colleges, and sexual activity is far from a rare thing.  Most divorced singles remain sexually active.  Nearly every movie, television program and commercial tells you to have sex – marriage is seldom part of the equation – love & sex are equal, if love is even mentioned at all!  Many young people engaging in sexual activity don’t even think about pregnancy – we’ve got more sex education and family planning – and it has led to more sexual activity and more unwanted pregnancies!  

An overwhelming number – when asked why they are getting married – “she’s pregnant!”  

The counselor wrote of the anger of a wife who discovered she had contracted herpes from her husband who had been unfaithful to her.  He was not a Christian at the time but later became a Christian.  He was distressed because his wife was suffering the penalty for his free sexual life.  The more our sin increases, the more the diseases become resistant to treatment.  

The common thought today is that you can’t have an intimate relationship or an intimate friendship without sexual activity … all singles are suspected to be sexually active, or homosexual, or both –

This leads to the second truth:




Did Jesus have deep, intimate relationships with people?

Hebrews 4:15 - This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.

Sexuality is what you are – not something you do.  Sexuality is a function of maleness blended with masculinity and femaleness blended with femininity and relates to being (who we are), not to performance (what we do).  

Genesis 1:27 - So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Genesis 2:22-25 - Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.  “At last!” the man exclaimed.  “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!  She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’”   This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

Adam and Eve were brought together – having had no sexual past – not in fantasy nor in experience – they came together in total purity – and they were created in the likeness of God!  

1st John 1:1-4 - We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.  This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us.  We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

John 17:20-21 - “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” 

Men can love men – in a godly, manly way - without it being sexual – women can love women in the same way. 

A man and a woman can love each other outside of marriage without it being sexual – and a man and a woman in marriage can experience deep, real love and enjoy the blessings of God’s gift of the sexual relationship –

And He wants us to be joined together in love – in unity – in oneness – like the oneness that exists among the Trinity – and that exists when we are in Christ and He is in us!   

The third truth is: 


Acts 7:57-60 - … They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.  As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.

REAL LOVE is something you can’t destroy with a few stones!  REAL LOVE is not given and received as cheaply as a one night stand!  REAL LOVE is not guaranteed with a courthouse wedding or a church wedding and REAL LOVE is not discounted with a filing of divorce!  

What kind of love did Stephen have?  What kind of love did Valentine have?  What kind of love did John have?

1st John 4:10-11 - This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

John 3:16 - For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.






God is love. 


God cannot be defined – love cannot be defined.


God never ends – REAL LOVE never ends!  


God is pure – REAL LOVE IS PURE

God gave all – REAL LOVE GIVES ALL!  


Philippians 2:5-11 - You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 

    Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Father.   




I know that everyone of Jesus’ 12 disciples – other than Judas & John - died for their faith – died for true love – and John suffered much persecution and it is said that the only reason he didn’t die a martyr was that he was supernaturally delivered.  

This is true love.

They say Saint Valentine died for his faith – died for true love … I'm not sure of all the rest surrounding his life – only God knows. With St. Valentine’s Day reminding us of the great love of God, I am reminded that the sacrifices we make for the Lord are sacrifices of love – a small response to the great sacrifice of love that He made for us!  

Randy Blankenship SrComment