What is Real Love?
Deliberating over Valentine’s Day, what is it really all
about? Who was Valentinus, and why was he a saint? Little is actually
established about St. Valentino. In fact, there were possibly three men who
were martyred along the Via Flaminia in Rome. Some would say that all different
recorded accounts in various different files could be pointing to the same man.
In the High Middle Ages, there were nearly a dozen men with
this same name, Valentinus, that all suffered for their faith. One account
dates as far back as 269 under the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Valentino was
a Roman Priest, married believers in secret and aided those being persecuted
for their Christian beliefs and tried to convert the emperor.
What is known, for certain, is that St. Valentine was
martyred for his faith on February 14 in Rome. Near the year of 500AD, Popè
Gelasius I saw to it that his name was revered and added to a list of men to be
honored and celebrated under Roman Catholicism. It was a Feast Day. Today the day is still
celebrated, but has come to be equated with courtly love.
But is courtly love real love? During the middle ages, and millennia
before, marriages were arranged and contracted. It was a family business set to
assure both families to advance in status, position and hopefully land wealth.
There was no romance, per se, involved in most cases. This
type of “courtly love” that was established was not in any way “love.” It was passion. While passion has its place, relationships
that are based solely on passion have no roots to drive down deep into the
soil, take hold and build a solid foundation.
In fact, it was a common phrase amongst the heads of the
households to say that “any real love cannot exist in a marriage.” Here, again,
the correct definition of the word “love” is “passion.”
The celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, then, is truly
revolved around passion and eros. A time for lovers. It is the kind of love
that has been deceiving us for centuries. We strive for it. Cheat for it. Lie
for it. And die for it.
How ironic that the holiday that celebrates real love is
just around the corner. The season of the Cross! It is called Easter, but there
is no real good reason for it to be connected to the pagan feast, other than
the timing. And that is a topic for next month…