Over four hundred years ago, in February of 1603, St. Francis de Sales (1567- 1622) preached upon an issue that still prevails even in our own day. St. Francis had only been ordained as bishop of Geneva, Switzerland, just two months before. Now it was around the first feast of St. Valentine since his ordination, and he wanted everyone to celebrate it - properly.

St. Valentine’s Day began as a wonderful day of the Church, a feast day to commemorate the day when the early church martyr St. Valentine died for the Faith. But for centuries, it has come to be celebrated in extremely worldly ways - ways which are useless and foolish at best. People are surrounded by material which hardly reminds anyone of a martyr Saint, or even any sort of true love for one another. As what tends to happen through secularization of feast-days into holidays, many practices of ‘Valentine's Day’ have simply become occasions of worldly pleasures, excessing even in sins of vanity, jealousy, lust and gluttony.

Even back then, in the 17th century, poor St. Valentine’s feast day was an excuse for silliness and sinfulness, and those of St. Francis de Sales’ diocese were no different than all the others accustomed to the bad habits of St. Valentine’s Day. So that year, the bishop gave an idea to make his people get the best out of the feast-day.

St. Francis suggested that each person pick out a Saint in the calendar, whichever one they wanted, most likely a Saint whose virtues the person especially admires or wants to imitate. This Saint would be their spiritual ‘valentine’ for the rest of the year.

As a "gift" for their new valentine, each person would do their best to practice the particular virtues which are prominent in their chosen Saint. Such tokens of love mean a lot to the Saints, more than we would imagine. Striving to imitate our ‘valentine’ Saint's virtue is a rather special and personal gift for them, seeing as they themselves worked so hard for it during their lives and are now forever blessed and rewarded because of it.

So, follow the advice of none other than a Saint, and choose a Saint for your valentine. St. Francis de Sales certainly knew what he was saying - make your valentine someone who is perfect.

Our heavenly valentine will have meaningful gifts for us as well. Paying special attention to us, they will share in all our joys and sorrows and help obtain important graces all throughout the year for us. And you can be sure that, touched at our devotion, they will remember us as their special ‘valentine’ and will look forward to the year that we will celebrate St. Valentine’s Day with them in Heaven.