Saint Valentine, bishop and martyr, is the Saint of the par excellence lovers. All over the world San Valentino is celebrated on the fourteenth of February; but perhaps few know the romantic history of the bishop of Terni.
Legend has it that today’s festivities are linked to the rites of the ancient Romans who celebrated the fifteenth of February; in honor of the god Pan, Fauno and Luperco, and the purification of the fields was celebrated with rites of fruitfulness. These propitiatory rites were later forbidden by Augustus and then suppressed by Gelasius in 494; however life, love and rebirth were nevertheless celebrated clandestinely.
The Christian church celebrates love
The Christian Church, in fact, Christianized the pagan rite of fertility establishing it on the fourteenth of February. The patron saint of lovers, imprisoned under the Emperor Aureliano, was martyred in Rome on February 14, 273. His body was transferred to Terni, consecrated by San Feliciano bishop of Foligno in 197.
For centuries the patron saint is Valentine Martyr of Terni, protector of lovers and lovers to symbolize the anniversary par excellence dedicated to love. A story linked to San Valentino tells that the saint, a lover of roses, gave her to the engaged couple for good wishes. Today in Terni there is the “San Valentino Foundation“, which enhances the cult of the saint throughout the month of February with many events, not only religious, but also art, and entertainment. A legend also says that it was Valentine’s Day that managed to marry a Christian girl with a Roman soldier.
From Vienna to Terni with love
In countries such as France, Belgium, Germany and Austria, the fourteenth of February is very much felt and celebrated since the Middle Ages. Suffice it to say that in Austria alone, the country of the alpine stars, in the month of February alone, more than one hundred and ten million roses were sold. Several Austrian dioceses, such as those of Eisenstadt and Linz, Salzburg with Graz-Seckau and Innsbruck, following the example of Terni, organize events of celebration and reflection for couples of lovers.
Among the initiatives, the “Letters of Love from God”, distributed in the parishes, and also around the city by volunteers. On the letters there is a biblical phrase about the love of a couple, desired and blessed by God. In St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna we celebrate a solemn blessing of the lovers with the laying on of hands at the end of a romantic concert, a bit like a Terni.
Valentine’s Day in Terni to celebrate love
Every year in Terni renews the promise of engaged couples towards marriage that come from all over Italy to pray before the Valentine’s box. The rite of the lovers’ promise is celebrated, and the religious celebrations for the feast of the patron saint of Terni come to life.
In general, the couples are one hundred and twenty, gathered in the Basilica of San Valentino, in the solemn celebration presided over by the bishop of Terni Narni Amelia. A ceremony that sanctions even more the link between Valentine’s Day and engaged couples who will say “yes” by the end of the year. The couples of newlyweds pray before the saint who speaks of faithful and patient love, attentive, generous and respectful; he who is the protector of love, and of the Christian family. Couples from all over Italy take part in the “Festa della Promessa”. Beautiful, sometimes touching the stories of the many couples, more or less young, who bind their love to Valentine’s Day.
It is striking that so many men decide to participate, making a surprise to their partner. Alongside young couples, couples who celebrate twenty-five years of marriage or even fifty are also celebrated. A couple who celebrated their seventy-five years of marriage was recently celebrated, reflecting the longevity of conjugal love for younger couples; a touching and romantic moment.
Now that there are so many crunches in the family and in the folds of society, it is wonderful to rediscover the value of family and love. All this is witnessed every year by an increasingly numerous participation of engaged couples, who for twenty-five years “promise” in the Basilica of San Valentino. Generally, around ten o’clock on Sunday, couples are welcomed in the nursery school of San Valentino with a floral tribute for women. On this occasion breakfast is offered by the organizing committee of the parish of San Valentino.
At eleven o’clock the couples go in procession towards the Basilica of San Valentino for the celebration of the promise; at the end of which a parchment is given in memory of the romantic day.
The promise of love speaks of fidelity and patience, of an attentive, generous and respectful love.“In every time of life we need God’s help, the prelate said, even you, engaged, feel the need. We ask God to accompany you in this time of the engagement with his blessing, so that you may grow in Love and live it as a gift of grace for you and for the community “. These recently the beautiful words of the bishop of Terni. Afterwards the engaged couples exchange the promise: “I wish and promise to give you my love and I ask you to give me and promise yours, so that we may soon celebrate and live the sacrament of marriage in the name of the Lord”.