Saint Valentine

Kathleen Delaney, author of And Murder for Dessert, Murder Half-Baked, and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. Her long time love of small towns sent her looking through the Carolina’s for a new place to settle, Gaffney. Limestone College, a delightful historic district, and great library immediately drew her in. She lives in a wonderful 100 year old house, with a wrap around front porch, where she and her dog, Laney, can wile away a summer afternoon, and a big office, lined with bookcases, where she can spend her days writing. And, as always, reading.

You can learn more about Katheen at her website .

Yes, there really was a saint named Valentine. He lived, appropriately, in Rome, which ended up in Italy, the country of romance. Or is that France? Never mind.      Valentine supposedly died on February 14th, in approximately 269 A. D. Why we know the month and day and can only guess at the year, is a question I can’t answer. However, we do know he was a priest and a stanch supporter of Christianity, a belief that was destined to lead him to a quite messy death.

This, on the surface, doesn’t seem to have much to do with today’s celebration. We exchange cards declaring our undying love, devoted friendship, or some other sentimental sentiment. We give red hearts encased in crimson ribbon and edged with white lace, chocolates to adults who don’t need them, or sticky little sugar bits to children whose dentists shudder. The valentine exchange in classrooms has been a stanch tradition since I can remember. Small girls love it. Small boys live in horror that they might be found out giving a valentine to a girl and try to find the silliest card they can to exchange with other boys.

What does all this have to do with St Valentine, who ended up beaten with sticks, pummeled with stones, and finally beheaded? Nothing that I can see.

This isn’t the only case where the celebration and the saint don’t seem to match.  Supposedly St. Nicholas was also a saint. I believe he gave coins, or maybe it was oranges—the legend isn’t clear—to small children in honor of the birthday of Christ. How that got to Santa Claus, sitting in department stores surrounded with rather large elves dressed in poison green felt suits, I don’t know. I’m not sure where the reindeer come in either, or the flying sled, let alone the Christmas tree. I get the stockings. Sort of. But I’m at a loss to explain the Easter Bunny. Dyed eggs? Delivered by a rabbit? When I was a child, we didn’t have school from Good Friday through the weekend, and we spent most of it in church. Then, after services on Sunday, we went home and had an Easter egg hunt, wearing, of course our new Easter dresses or suits, and then sat down to a dinner of ham and scalloped potatoes.

Please don’t think I don’t enjoy our traditions. I do. All of them. It’s just that I sometimes think the story of how they got started became a little twisted somewhere along the way. However, when I go back and re-read the story of St Valentine—. It seems that the good saint made many converts during his time preaching the gospel. He made only one mistake. He tried to convert the Roman Emperor Claudius 11. In return he was thrown in jail and condemned to death. While he awaited his sentence, he restored the sight of his jailor’s blind daughter, the kind of miracle expected of all who eventually reach sainthood. Apparently, they became friends. The daughter and the saint. We don’t know about the jailor and the saint. Anyway, it is said that the night before he died he sent her a note, signed “from your Valentine.”

I have no idea if that is true or not, or how anyone would even know, but that is what it says in the official account of his life. And death. Makes you stop and think, now doesn’t it.

Happy Valentines Day, everyone.