Did you know that Cupid is Italian too? There are many stories about the origin of Valentine’s Day and most of them have Italian roots. According to the Commune di Terni (Town of Terni, Italy in the province of Umbria), Valentine’s Day is celebrated in memory of San Valentino (Saint Valentine), a bishop and martyr born in Terni.
San Valentino became recognized in Rome in 273 A.D. for healing the son of Crotone, a famous Athenian orator. He became known as San Valentino from the Latin valere, meaning to be in good health. The house of Valentino in Rome soon became a place of healing for Catholics. San Valentino was beheaded on February 14 as a sacrifice to the gods by those who did not agree with his beliefs. His remains were buried on a hill in Terni where The Basilica of San Valentino now stands.
Valentino also became a symbol of protection for lovers when he married Sabino and Serepia whose marriage was forbidden because of their different religions (Christian and pagan). When Serepia became ill with tuberculosis, Sabino called San Valentino to heal her. When Valentino arrived, Serepia was on her deathbed. Sabino asked San Valentino to make sure that he and his wife were never separated. Valentino then lifted his arms and prayed, uniting Sabino and Serepia eternally together.
During the month of February, the city of Terni becomes the City of Love; a chocolate festival and events, both religious and non-religious, celebrate the union of couples and the healing powers of San Valentino.
Auguri per San Valentino!