Love letters, romantic trips, bouquets of red roses. Valentine’s day is one of the most famous feasts in the world: on February 14th, all the lovers exchange gestures of love to show their feelings to their own partner. However, how many people know this feast’s roots? Who was Saint Valentine actually?
The Saint of lovers was a bishop and a citizen of Terni in 197, who became famous for the holiness of his life, for charity and humility. He worked lots of miracles: the most famous is when he healed the son of a famous Greek orator in ancient Rome.
But, why is his name associated with love? Legend has it that one day, Bishop Valentino heard two lovers arguing verbally in his own garden. With the intention of reconciling them, he presented himself to them with a red rose. The two lovers were tested by faith: they had to take each other by the hand, praying intensely and clasping together the stem of the rose full of thorns, without hurting themselves. If they had succeeded, it would have been a divine symptom that would have confirmed the strength of their love. And so it was. From that day on, Valentino received many visits from numerous engaged couples, to whom he used to give a rose as a symbol of wish for a happy union.
The first two lovers Saint Valentine reconciled thanks to the rose’s gift, however, couldn’t consecrate their love with marriage because the woman, called Serapia, was a Christian faithful, while his loved Sabino was pagan. In despite of this, Bishop Valentine decided to celebrate their union according to a pagan rite: for this reason he was persecuted and subsequently executed on February 14th, 273. Because of his martyrdom, during the Middle Ages, Valentine was sanctified and recognized by the Church as the patron saint of love and of all lovers and his death’s day officially became the day of the year when the feeling of love is celebrated.
CURIOSITY: Valentine’s Day is a festival that, nowadays, is celebrated in all the countries of the world, altought in a different way from that we know in Europe. In Japan on February 14th, for example, tradition requires girls to give a chocolates’ box to boys, even if they are not necessarily their boyfriends; and the men who receive chocolate for Valentine’s Day must reciprocate the gift received by giving white chocolate exactly one month later, that is, on March 14th.