Holiday honors saint

Zach Mills

There are two popular folk tales within the Catholic faith that explain the origins of St. Valentine, one of the religion’s hundreds of saints, and the holiday he is credited with inspiring, Valentine’s Day.

The first tells of a third cen-tury Roman Catholic priest named Valentine who secretly married couples after Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage. Valentine was caught and executed, supposedly on Feb. 14, around A.D. 270.

Another legend says that while Valentine was in prison awaiting his execution, he healed his jailer’s blind daughter. Before his beheading, Valentine sent a letter to the jailer’s daughter. It read, “From your Valentine.”

Catholics celebrate the holiday by remembering Valentine as a martyr who practiced the ideals of sacrificial and unconditional love and died for his faith in God.

The Rev. Darrell Venters, chaplain and director of the Catholic Campus Center at Western, said Valentine’s Day is about remembering Valentine.

“The original intention of a saint day was to remember that person and their contributions to the church,” Venters said. “To remember means to put back together. So when we remember someone, we bring them back to mind and bring them into the present.”

Sometimes the intention of a day, like St. Valentine’s Day can become over commercialized.

“Over time, there’s a tendency to forget the original intention behind it,” Venters said. “But it’s all good if it’s a reflection of the original intention.”

Venters said Valentine’s Day was created to remember the sacrificial love Valentine personified in his death.

“We look at love in that sense,” Venters said. “Valentine’s Day is a day about love, but it’s not egotistical love or it’s not erotic love, but it’s that sacrificial love.”

Although Valentine’s Day is said to have been inspired by a Catholic, Venters said celebration practices are similar between Catholics and non-Catholics.

Lexington junior Kathy Webb, a Catholic, agrees.

“I don’t see much of a difference at all,” Webb said. “It’s one holiday, and you can either choose to be depressed about it because you don’t have anyone to celebrate with, or you can just be in the moment with people and show them the love that you have for Christ in your heart.”

For Webb, Valentine’s Day is deeper than religion.

“I don’t know any religious things about it,” she said. “I’ve never really seen it as just a Catholic thing.”

Louisville sophomore Annie Henning is also a Catholic. She isn’t going to let herself be one of the members of the depressed population on Valentine’s Day. She’s going to pamper herself with self-appreciation, and of course, lots of candy.

“Treat yourself!” Henning said. “That’s what holidays are for. Being alone is O.K. Yes, I would like to have a mate, but it’s not the end of the world.”

Catholic, or non-Catholic, Valentine’s Day is a day both groups devote to remembering loved ones.

Even though the commercialization of Valentine’s Day has changed the holiday’s original intention slightly, Venters still thinks the holiday is good.

“In many ways, St. Valentine’s Day helps us to remember, to bring to mind, to call to attention, to call to our awareness, those people who mean something to us,” he said. “And once called to mind, our natural expression is to send them something to say that when we don’t always use words to do it. And I think that’s a wonderful thing.”

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