The first St. Valentine was a priest and physician in Rome who gave comfort to fellow Christians also enduring the persecution of Emperor Claudius II. Eventually, he, too, was arrested, condemned to death for his Christian faith, beaten, and beheaded on Feb. 14, AD 270.
While those are just the facts, no, that’s not how we sum up the gravity and beauty of St. Valentine’s Day for our youngest students. Instead, we get them thinking about the love — true love — Jesus Christ showed for them and for us all with his sacrificial, selfless and unconditional love. It is the kind of love every Christian is called to express in their own life for God and everyone else they encounter. It is the kind of love St. Valentine showed when he cared for others and bore witness to his faith in the offering of his own life in martyrdom.
Each year, we encourage our students to know God loves them fully, and we prompt them to think about the love — true love — they see all around them. We ask them to share examples of that love. Their observations always bring us joy — and sometimes make us laugh, too. Here are just a few of our students’ ideas about true love to brighten your Valentine’s Day 2021:
“When someone says they love you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” — Billy, age 4
“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over to paint her toenails anymore. So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love.” — Rebecca, age 8
“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” — Elaine, age 5
“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.” — Mary Ann, age 4
“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.” — Noelle, age 7