Saint Valentine does not appear in the calendar of the Orthodox Church on February the 14th, and in both East and West his association with lovers is tenuous to say the least. The Saint Valentines that are on the calendar all appear to be martyrs and have nothing to do with love and romance either. We know that the romantic traditions of St. Valentine’s day all go back to pagan times and pre-Christian Roman customs.
However, the Greek Orthodox Church commemorates the feastday of the saints of marriage, Priscilla and Aquila, on February 13, a day before St. Valentine’s Day
Priscilla and Aquila are the Greek Orthodox Church’s answer to Valentine’s day. The Christian missionary couple were married and are described in the New Testament as partners in the ministry of Christ.
Priscilla, of Jewish descent, was one of the earliest converts and is believed to have been a teacher. Independent and smart, and some modern scholars say that she may have been the anonymous author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Her husband, Aquila, was one of the first bishops of Asia Minor.
Together they traveled around the ancient world as messengers of God and died side-by-side as martyr for their beliefs.
When Emperor Claudius determined to rid Rome of all Jews, Aquila and Priscilla were exiled from Rome. Probably, they were Christians before they met Paul in Corinth. The couple was tent makers like Paul. They got along with Paul so well that he stayed with them. While in Corinth, Aquila and Priscilla formed a Christian church in their home.
When Paul left Corinth for Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla went with him. At Ephesus they again started a Christian church in their home. After preaching in Ephesus, Paul left for Antioch; however, Aquila and Priscilla remain in Ephesus. According to Paul, Aquila and Priscilla risk their lives for him.In Romans 16:3-4 it says they “risked their necks” to save Paul’s life.
One Sabbath Aquila and Priscilla’ heard a visitor, Apollos, speaking in the Ephesus synagogue. Apollos was a learned Jewish scholar from Alexandria, Egypt. He spoke eloquently about the coming of Messiah, but, knew only the baptism of repentance preached by John. After the synagogue meeting, Aquila and Priscilla invited Apollos to their home. There, they explained the life and death of Jesus and that he was the expected Messiah. Apollos received their message and became a missionary for Christ.
The couple’s thoughtfulness is shown by their approach to Apollos. They neither confronted Apollos in the Jewish synagogue; nor attempted to embarrass Apollos by their superior knowledge of Christ. Instead they invited him to their home, probably for a meal. Over the meal they explained Christ’s life, his finished work on the cross and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Their considerate approach added a strong voice to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. This is an example to us all, in spreading the good news of our faith.
Aquila actually became a bishop of Heraclea and was martyred for his faith together with his beloved wife.
Bible References: Acts 18:2-4, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 16:19