It is said that Julia Planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near Valentine’s grave. Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship.
Editor’s Note: St. Valentine’s Day, like St. Patrick’s Day, is celebrated all over the world. Like so many Christian festivals, they have become disconnected from their core and colonized by consumerism.
There is an urgent need for Christians today to be living symbols of a new and much needed counter-culture to consumerism. This in no way suggests that we become somber and boring. Love, when genuine, is full of colour and light and is never dull or blighted.
I have often wondered why we in Ireland never make enough of the fact that Dublin is the guardian city of the sacred relics of St. Valentine.
One of the stories about the martyrdom of St. Valentine involves his care for a young blind girl named Julia, the daughter of one of his jailers. Valentine described the beauty of nature to Julia and upon his martyrdom, on February 14th, 269 AD, Julia’s sight was restored. Legend says that Julia planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Here is the legend:
“… during the last weeks of his life a remarkable thing happened. One day a jailer for the Emperor of Rome knocked at Valentine’s door clutching his blind daughter in his arms. He had learned of Valentine’s medical and spiritual healing abilities, and appealed to Valentine to treat his daughter’s blindness. She had been blind since birth…
Seeing that he was a man of learning, the jailer asked whether his daughter, Julia, might also be brought to Valentine for lessons. Julia was a pretty young girl with a quick mind. Valentine read stories of Rome’s history to her. He described the world of nature to her. He taught her arithmetic and told her about God. She saw the world through his eyes, trusted in his wisdom, and found comfort in his quiet strength.
On the eve of his death, Valentine wrote a last note to Julia – knowing his execution was imminent. Valentine asked the jailer for a paper, pen and ink. He quickly jotted a farewell note and handed it to the jailer to give to his blind daughter. He urged her to stay close to God, and he signed it “From Your Valentine.” His sentence was carried out the next day, February 14, 269 A.D., near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini (now Porta del Popolo) in his memory.
When the jailer went home, he was greeted by his little girl. The little girl opened the note and discovered a yellow crocus inside. The message said, “From your Valentine.” As the little girl looked down upon the crocus that spilled into her palm she saw brilliant colours for the first time in her life! The girl’s eyesight had been restored.
He was buried at what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome, near the cemetery of St Hippolytus. It is said that Julia herself planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship.”
As part of the counter-culture we must engage in, we have the opportunity to reframe perceptions around major Christian festivals and to encourage all to reflect on different value systems. Perhaps we can do this too with St. Valentines Day. Julia’s act of love and thanksgiving for what Valentine had given her was to plant a tree.
Perhaps we can encourage young lovers all over the world to plant trees in their locality and along Africa’s Great Green Wall.
Meantime, here are some ideas from Eco NDG on making St. Valentine’s Day 2019 green, graceful and loving:
This Valentine’s Day, celebrate in green!
There are many ways to prevent consumerism and celebrate in a more sustainable way. Here are some ideas on how to celebrate a Green Valentine’s day:
– If you eat out, choose a restaurant with local, organic or vegetarian food options;
– If you eat in, you can also try to eat sustainably under the same principles;
– Make your own greeting card or send a grain card that can be planted in the ground*. You can also help the environment by encouraging local artists who use recyclable materials;
– For chocolate fans, show someone how much you care by giving them organic and/or fair trade chocolates;
– Encourage local jewelry designers, especially those who use recycled materials;
– Offer potted plants instead of flowers, they last longer and purify the air;
– Do not forget that roses are compostable;
– Give your loved ones a something more, by offering them the lasting gift of an adoption kit (ie: WWF); – Plant a tree as a symbol of your love.
Happy Green Valentine’s Day!
Eco Day Valentine’s Day written for Eco NDG
*Some cards can be planted in the ground as they are made from biodegradable paper, which contains seeds of flowering plants.