San Valentino Posted by Serena on Feb 14, 2011 in Culture
Today is the 14th of February and, as in many other countries, here in Italy we celebrate San Valentino, protettore degli innamorati (Saint Valentine’s Day – St. Valentine is the patron Saint of those in love). But who exactly was San Valentino, and why is his name so indelibly linked to those in love?
San Valentino was born in Terni in Umbria around the year 176 A.D., and became bishop of the town in 197 A.D. Late in his life he fell victim to the persecution of the Christians under the Roman Emperor Aurelian, and on the 14th of February 273 A.D. at the age of 97 he was decapitated in Rome. There are many legends relating to San Valentino and his protection of young couples. I’ve chosen the following two:
La leggenda di Sabino e Serapia (The Legend of Sabino and Serapia)
Sabino, a young Roman centurion, was walking through a piazza in Terni when he saw a beautiful girl called Serapia. He fell in love in an instant and decided that he would ask her to marry him, but when he asked Serapia’s parents for their consent, they refused because he was a pagan and Serapia was a Christian.
In order to overcome this obstacle, Serapia suggested that Sabino went to see Valentino, Bishop of Terni, to be converted and baptized. The love struck Sabino promptly accepted, but as the preparations were taking place to celebrate Sabino’s baptism and the couple’s unity in wedlock, Serapia fell ill with consumption. Valentino was called to visit the young girl, by now almost at death’s door. Sabino begged the Bishop not to allow death to separate him from his beloved Serapia. There and then Valentino baptized Sabino and joined the young couple in marriage. As he was blessing them, un sonno beatificante avvolse quei due cuori per l’eternità (a blissful sleep enveloped their two hearts for eternity).
La leggenda della Rosa della Riconciliazione (The Legend of the Rose of Reconciliation)
One day Valentino was in his garden when he heard a young couple having an argument in the street nearby. Picking a beautiful rose he approached the couple, offered it to them, and asked them to hold it between them by the stalk, taking care not to be pricked by the vicious thorns. Valentino asked the young lovers to reconcile their differences whilst praying to God to keep the flame of their love alive.
Some time later the young couple went back to see the Bishop and asked him to bless their marriage. The story quickly spread around, and young couples soon began visiting Valentino to ask for his blessing.
Auguri di San Valentino