The tradition of giving a card or letter to one’s beloved on St Valentine’s Day comes from the bishop St Valentine’s letters from prison in Rome. He was arrested and imprisoned for performing marriages for Christian soldiers against the decree of the Roman Emperor, Claudius II.
While in jail, Valentine healed the blind daughter of his jailor and they became friends. He was beheaded on February 14, 269 AD, but not before he had signed a farewell note to the young girl with ‘From Your Valentine’. Other saints to famously write ‘prison letters’ include St Paul, St Thomas More, St John of the Cross, and Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, who died in 2002 and whose cause for canonisation is underway.
Children can enter into this story of our faith on St Valentine’s Day by making their own secret message to spread God’s love to someone they love such as a parent or grandparent. By making their own Valentine in the spirit of St Valentine himself they will experience the true meaning of this feast, which is the beauty of married love and a hopeful attitude in the face of persecution because of one’s faith. This meaning has largely been lost in the wider culture’s almost exclusive focus on extravagant gift-giving, self-indulgence, and young romance.
Parents and teachers are advised to help younger children with this, so they don’t get burnt when heating the paper.
Small plate or saucer
Cotton bud or swab
Textas, stickers, ribbon etc. of your own choice for decorating
Envelope or curled ribbon
A lamp or a hairdryer
Think of a short message about God’s love, or select one of the messages of hope inspired by saints’ letters below.
Squeeze the lemon and pour the juice into the plate or saucer. Dip the cotton bud into the lemon juice mix and write your message on a piece of paper.
Allow it to dry, decorate the paper and then deliver it by mail, by hand, or leave it in a special place to be discovered by the recipient.
To reveal the message, heat the paper by holding it under a lamp, or by using a hair dryer.
The message will become clearer. Place the messages in your prayer space.
Messages of Love:
Love is kind – St Paul
I trust in God’s goodness – St Thomas More
God’s love saves us! – St John of the Cross
Only love can change hearts – Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan