Valentine (c. 269) - Wrongly Remembered for Romance
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3
Valentine’s day has become the celebration of romance and love, and the memory of the man as a martyr has been forgotten. Valentine’s life in fact seems to have had no connection with the romantic notions with which he is now associated, these being a later popular custom that overshadowed the real man. His death was part of the widespread persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Valentine, a priest, was arrested and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, where he refused to renounce his faith. He was consequently beaten with clubs and afterwards beheaded near Rome in c. 269.
Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
John Donne (1572- 1631)
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Originally appeared on Isaac Publishing