Broken Frames and Broken Hearts – Happy Valentine’s Day!
The day went well until after work when I drove to the Shopko to pick up my new glasses. Turns out I need bifocals. If that isn’t a statement in itself, I don’t know what is. As the optician was taking my new glasses out of the case and getting them fitted for me I joked with him asking how many times he has broken a pair of glasses while adjusting them. I have known this guy for sometime and he told me very assuredly that it really has never happened. He said that as time goes on they get a good feel for what the frames are capable of and just how much bending they can do. As soon as he told me this I hear a loud SNAP! His face began to display various shades of red and he turned to me and said he broke my frames.
As I sat there smiling at the humor in it all, I snapped a picture of my frames and my mind started wandering about Valentine’s Day and all those people that perhaps weren’t celebrating. Broken frames led me to think about broken hearts and finally why on earth do we celebrate Valentine’s Day anyway?
The story of St. Valentine has two different versions – the Protestant and the Catholic one. Both versions agree upon Saint Valentine being a bishop who held secret marriage ceremonies of soldiers in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for young men and was executed by the latter. During the lifetime of Valentine, the golden era of Roman empire had almost come to an end. Lack of quality administrators led to frequent civil strife. Education declined, taxation increased and trade witnessed a very bad time. The Roman empire faced crisis from all sides, from the Gauls, Slavs, Huns, Turks and Mongolians from Northern Europe and Asia. The empire had grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. Naturally, more and more capable men were required to to be recruited as soldiers and officers to protect the nation from takeover. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. He believed that marriage made the men weak. So he issued an edict forbidding marriage to assure quality soldiers.
The ban on marriage was a great shock for the Romans. But they dared not voice their protest against the mighty emperor. The kindly bishop Valentine also realized the injustice of the decree. He saw the trauma of young lovers who gave up all hopes of being united in marriage. He planned to counter the monarch’s orders in secrecy. Whenever lovers thought of marrying, they went to Valentine who met them afterwards in a secret place, and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. And thus he secretly performed many marriages for young lovers. But such things cannot remain hidden for long. It was only a matter of time before Claudius came to know of this “friend of lovers,” and had him arrested.
While awaiting his sentence in prison, Valentine was approached by his jailor, Asterius. It was said that Valentine had some saintly abilities and one of them granted him the power to heal people. Asterius had a blind daughter and knowing of the miraculous powers of Valentine he requested the latter to restore the sight of his blind daughter. The Catholic legend has it that Valentine did this through the vehicle of his strong faith, a phenomenon refuted by the Protestant version which agrees otherwise with the Catholic one. Whatever the fact, it appears that Valentine in some way did succeed to help Asterius’ blind daughter.When Claudius II met Valentine, he was said to have been impressed by the dignity and conviction of the latter. However, Valentine refused to agree with the emperor regarding the ban on marriage. It is also said that the emperor tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods but was unsuccesful in his efforts. Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully. This angered Claudius II who gave the order of execution of Valentine.
Meanwhile, a deep friendship had been formed between Valentine and Asterius’ daughter. It caused great grief to the young girl to hear of his friend’s imminent death. It is said that just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper from his jailor, and signed a farewell message to her “From Your Valentine,” a phrase that lived ever after. As per another legend, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his jailer during his imprisonment. However, this legend is not given much importance by historians. The most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine is one not centered on Eros (passionate love) but on agape (Christian love): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion. Valentine is believed to have been executed on February 14, 270 AD
Now I have a better understanding of this holiday we celebrate. Lavinia told me today that she pretty much hates the celebration. While I understand her sentiment, I have always enjoyed participating. Despite everything that has happened over the last year and a half, I had a fantastic Valentine’s Day! Just as my frames will be fixed and ready to go tomorrow, broken hearts will eventually heal, but perhaps take a little longer… Happy Valentine’s Day!