Whether you’re blind or sighted, in a relationship or single, enjoy spreading valentine love or hate the commercialism, cards and flowers are probably on your mind today. Wouldn’t you like to know how it all began?
The story of St. Valentine.
During the third century, Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men. He believed that single men made better soldiers than those with families waiting for them back home. A priest named Valentine disagreed. He felt that marriage was the backbone of the Roman empire and love for their wives and children gave soldiers something to fight for. swoons He began marrying young couples in secret. What’s more romantic than a secret marriage, I ask you? Sadly, Valentine was eventually arrested, imprisoned, and sentenced to death.
While Valentine was imprisoned, he was visited frequently by a young girl named Julia. It is clear that this girl became important to Valentine, because it was to her he wrote his very last letter. He signed this iconic letter “from your Valentine.” This inspired the centuries-old tradition of exchanging cards and gifts on February fourteenth, the anniversary of St. Valentine’s death.
So who was this girl who inspired the mushiest holiday of the year?
Most accounts agree that Julia was probably Valentine’s jailor’s daughter. Valentine was commissioned by her father to assist her with her lessons because Julia was blind. At this point, legend divides into two distinct avenues. The first claims that Valentine healed Julia’s blindness and then fell in love with her. The second version maintains that Julia remained blind and firmly asserts that she and Valentine were no more than friends.
I find both of these explanations troubling.
The first leaves the impression that Valentine could/would not develop feelings for Julia until and unless she regained her sight. Valentine is a highly romanticized figure, but he is also renown for his heroism and empathy. He doesn’t seem shallow enough to discard true love because the girl happened to be blind. It would be one thing if Valentine was never attracted to Julia, but to fall madly in love with her only after her sight was restored kind of puts a giant blemish on Valentine’s saintly character.
The second version of the legend, that insists Julia remained blind and that Valentine and Julia were JUST FRIENDS, is almost worse. I came across at least five posts that go out of their way to stress their “friendship” in the same breath that they divulge Julia’s blindness. Because, of course, who would date a blind girl? Not even a saint could handle that madness! There’s already an insane absence of differently-abled individuals in the media. Do historians really feel the need to write blind characters out of their happy endings as well?
Here’s what I think happened.
Valentine did not heal Julia, but they did fall in love. I mean think about it. Would you sign a letter “your ‘last name’” when writing to a friend, even a close one? Not unless you want your next conversation to be hella awkward. And, on the night before you were to be killed, would you spend time writing a letter to someone you didn’t care very deeply about? You don’t waste precious moments at the end of your life like that.
Any way you look at it, a blind girl had something to do with the visions of flowers and chocolate now dancing in your head. If you like the holiday, I’m happy for you. If not, this blind girl apologizes.
What do you think happened between Valentine and Julia? Feel free to comment below with your take on their story.
I will leave you with one final thought. Whether you are coupled-up or single this Valentine’s day, remember to love those around you, especially yourself. You are the only you there is, and you are uniquely amazing. Send friendship flowers to your bestie, buy heart-shaped dog-treats for your four-legged friends, and treat yourself to a night free from anxiety. Know in your heart that there is someone out there for everyone, and be grateful if you’ve found them already. Also, be happy that your love isn’t sentenced to die tomorrow. (I’m sorry I had to say it.)
I love you all! Happy Valentine’s from Safe Space.
Be kind, and be aware.
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