I came across something recently, courtesy of Dr Robert Petterson, of which the following is my abridged summary. I do hope you'll find it not only interesting but also inspiring.
A child was born in ancient Italy whose mother gave him the Latin name meaning 'strong heart'. As he grew to manhood he needed to be strong as the Roman Empire was in its death throes. But as a courageous pastor he brought hope and peace to the people, especially through his extravagant acts of charity. His extraordinarily joyful outlook on life was contagious and even the rulers of the day turned a blind eye and deaf ear to his preaching.
But then a new ruler rose up and decreed that in order to defeat the pagan Goths every Italian man was to be conscripted into military service. Single men were even forbidden to marry. Yet of course there were many young lovers in Italy, and when no-one else dared to perform a wedding, lovesick couples found their way to the pastor who was famous for his love, joy and compassion. Defying the Emperor he performed many illegal weddings. And many nuptials are said to have been followed by the baptism of new believers.
Sadly, news of this reached the palace and 'Strong Heart' was dragged before an irate Emperor. Palace observers wrote that the pastor could have walked away a free man had he not pressed Claudius to come to the Lord Jesus. Instead he was sentenced to die. And yet even death row did nothing to blunt 'Strong Heart's' joy. In fact, the jailer was so impressed that he brought his blind daughter to visit the prisoner, hoping that his exuberance would pull her out of a lifetime of self-pity. Soon both were laughing, and within only a matter of
days they were in love.
Yet the death sentence still stood, and on the eve of his demise the pastor forgave each of his executioners, imploring them to receive Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. He also wrote a final love letter to his sweetheart, signing it in a way that is still celebrated today.
Now you may never have heard this story before, but its relevance will become clear to you when I tell you that his Latin name was Valentinus and that he ended that final letter to his sweetheart with the words...'Your Valentine'.
Of course, you may consider all this to have been nothing more than medieval mythology, but in recent years archaeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient church building in Rome. And chiselled into the doorway arch are the words of Pope Julius I honouring a man named 'Strong Heart' who died on... you've guessed it, February the 14th..
So, as another Valentines Day approaches let's thank the Lord for Valentius and the wonderful legacy he has left us... a legacy through which we continue to express our love and devotion to our sweethearts today.
But sadly our love for one another can all too often prove faltering and impermanent. Yet all who look to Christ Jesus will prove His love to be of a quality beyond compare...
'...God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.'
May you go on to prove the warmth of His unfailing love in your own personal experience.