Growing up in northern California, at a small public school nestled among the redwoods, we used to frequently have all school assemblies where we would discuss upcoming issues and topics of note. Some other day I’ll tell you all about this magical three room school house that grew from 50 to 75 students over the nine years I attended.
But, today, I’ll share the story that one teacher used to share with us during all school assemblies just past the days of early February.
St. Valentine was a kind man, he told us.
St. Valentine was a Catholic priest in a time and place that was venomously anti-Catholic. The state had outlawed Catholic marriages on the theory that if a good Catholic isn’t married…he or she cannot reproduce.
But St. Valentine believed in love, so he held private wedding ceremonies, consecrating the love of his brethren in darkened caves, hidden from the eyes of the state. But St. Valentine was discovered. He was caught and imprisoned and told he would answer for his crimes.
St. Valentine was a kind man. All the neighborhood kids loved him and missed him and wanted him to be free. So they wrote little notes of encouragement and dropped them through the bars. And the notes fell down into the pit where St. Valentine was imprisoned – this is where the idea of sending “valentines” came from.
St. Valentine read these notes and he was deeply moved by the love of his community.
Then he was beheaded.
Perhaps this story was the inspiration for Game of Thrones. I couldn’t say. And perhaps it’s because I heard this story every year for eight years, but – I always found Valentine’s Day a little weird.
I mean, I’m pretty snarky about love to begin with, but then you add on a dude beheaded for his religious beliefs and…I don’t think I’ll ever figure this day out.