Today it’s my pleasure to interview St. Valentine, iconic third-century religious figure. A thousand plus years after his death, Valentine continues to sell millions of dollars of love-related products each year in February.
Anne: Thanks so much for taking a chance on a new blog like mine.
St. Valentine: After you contacted me, I checked your archives. Since several of your posts deal with history and philosophy during the Roman era, I thought I’d help you out with your first interview.
Anne: Well, I’m honored. While preparing for our conversation, I flipped through my kitchen calendar. Except for the holidays commemorating the birth and death of Jesus, yours is the oldest. Congrats!
St. Valentine: Anne, I’m thrilled to know that in 2017 people still think about the gravity of obeying Christ even if they have to break the law to do it. And I’m profoundly moved that the people of your country remember me and would even celebrate their willingness to die in the name of Jesus.
Anne: (Laughing) No, Valentine. On your day, we buy expensive cards, flowers, and gifts for the people we love best. Especially chocolate.
St. Valentine: I have no idea what is this chocolate of which you speak.
Anne: Sorry, I guess that came later, with the Mexicans. So, back in your day, did couples in love buy sweet treats, write letters to each other, or go out on romantic dates?
St. Valentine: There wasn’t a lot of time for that, Anne. Young people mostly just hoped to find a way to get married secretly and then avoid being hunted down and killed for it afterwards. I suppose there could have been some element of romance and adventure involved in playing cat-and-mouse games with the Roman authorities, but I’m not sure the historical record supports that. I certainly don’t remember it.
Anne: Well that’s disappointing. I’ve always associated your day with warm feelings of love and happiness.
St. Valentine: I think you are profoundly confused, Anne, although it’s true that after the emperor banned marriage for soldiers, I broke the law to help marry them. It felt pretty desperate at the time, though, and not especially happy. (Eagerly) Wait. Check that calendar again. You’re probably thinking of the fertility holiday Lupercalia. The things you’ve described doing on my day wouldn’t be out of line for that.
Anne: No, I’m talking about Valentine’s Day. Your day. Promise.
St. Valentine: I don’t even know how to express my frustration. When a man can be beaten, stoned, and beheaded for the faith, it seems like he should have some say in how people remember him later on. Good thing I did it for Christ and not my own reputation.
Anne: I guess so. Valentine, it’s been mostly a pleasure talking to you, but if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to run to Aldi. I’m hoping they still have those $2.99 boxes of truffles in stock so I can buy one for each of my kids. I look lame enough in front of other moms who make heart-shaped pancakes with cherry syrup for Valentine’s Day breakfast. Maybe if I hurry I can hang some red and white streamers, or better yet, salvage my reputation with a few quick decorating ideas from Pinterest before everyone gets home.
St. Valentine: (Sighing) You do that, Anne. We wouldn’t want your family to get the wrong idea about me.