PHOTOS: Engaged couples receive St Valentine blessing in Terni, Italy

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

 

The Basilica of St. Valentine in Terni, Italy. / Patrick Leonard/CNA.

Terni, Italy, Feb 14, 2022 / 10:16 am (CNA).

In the Italian town of Terni, not far from Rome, 40 engaged couples received a special blessing in the Basilica of St. Valentine.

In Italy’s “City of Lovers,” Feb. 12 -14 was dedicated to the 4th-century martyr who inspired Valentine’s Day. The celebrations included a town festival, Mass, a procession of St. Valentine’s relics, and the traditional blessing of soon-to-be married couples.

Engaged couples wait to enter the Basilica of St. Valentine in Terni, Italy. Patrick Leonard/CNA
Engaged couples wait to enter the Basilica of St. Valentine in Terni, Italy. Patrick Leonard/CNA

The engaged men and women came from all over Italy to receive the blessing from Bishop Francesco Soddu of Terni-Narni-Amelia. Several couples told EWTN News they came for the blessing to ask for the grace to have children after their wedding.

The relics of St. Valentine in his basilica in Terni. Patrick Leonard/CNA
The relics of St. Valentine in his basilica in Terni. Patrick Leonard/CNA

St. Valentine is Terni’s patron saint. He was believed to be Bishop of Terni before he came to Rome during one of the most difficult periods of Christian persecution in the early Church.

According to most accounts, after a time of imprisonment, St. Valentine was beaten and then beheaded, likely for his defiance of the emperor’s ban on Roman soldiers marrying.

A Mass said at the Basilica of St. Valentine in Terni. Patrick Leonard/CNA
A Mass said at the Basilica of St. Valentine in Terni. Patrick Leonard/CNA

The Feb. 13 “Feast of the Promise,” as it is called, included Mass and the benediction. The town also celebrated with the switching on of a series of heart-shaped lights after dark.

Outside the church, a man dressed like St. Valentine greeted the future spouses and handed them each a pink rose.

A man dressed as St. Valentine in Terni. Patrick Leonard/CNA
A man dressed as St. Valentine in Terni. Patrick Leonard/CNA

Andrea, who is from Terni but now lives in France, brought his Russian Orthodox fiancée, Olga, to the blessing. It was also an opportunity to introduce his future wife to his extended family.

“You know, a blessing more is better than a blessing less,” he told EWTN Vatican correspondent Colm Flynn, about their decision to participate.

Olga said the blessing was very important for her because it gives her serenity and confidence in their intention to marry. “Because what is the power of man compared to the power of the Almighty?” she said.

Olga and Andrea outside the Basilica of St. Valentine in Terni. Patrick Leonard/CNA
Olga and Andrea outside the Basilica of St. Valentine in Terni. Patrick Leonard/CNA

Andrea said he is praying the pair will be a “good and strong couple,” that they will have a “long, long, long marriage,” and maybe that they will have a large family.

Olga told Andrea she hopes to be loved by him until “the last day of my life.”

“I think you don’t have to wish for that…it’s granted already right?” Andrea responded.

Bishop Francesco Soddu of Terni-Narni-Amelia says Mass in the Basilica of St. Valentine. Patrick Leonard/CNA
Bishop Francesco Soddu of Terni-Narni-Amelia says Mass in the Basilica of St. Valentine. Patrick Leonard/CNA

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3 Comments

  1. In his “Deus Caritas Est,” Pope Benedict (emeritus) wrote about how eros can be falsely separated from agape, as under Virgil who suggested: “let us, too, yield to love [as in the ‘intoxication’ of ‘divine madness’].”

    Benedict then adds: “In religions, this attitude found expression in fertility cults, part of which was the ‘sacred’ prostitution which flourished in many temples. Eros was thus celebrated as divine power, as fellowship [pluralist fraternity?] with the divine. The Old Testament firmly opposed this form of religion which represents a powerful temptation against monotheistic faith, combating it as a perversion of religiosity” (n. 4).

    Thankful are we that this ass-essment does not apply today to Pachamama, who is portrayed by men in red hats as simply a symbol of life and fertility. Wait, what?

  2. We wear wedding rings which was a pagan custom. We bless them and places them on the ring finger following Greek and Roman belief that there was a vein that connected that finger to the heart.
    And we also practice the pagan Roman ritual of genuflection.
    Many years ago, I walked into a classroom which had a picture on the wall. As I was staring at it, some students said that that was the picture of Jesus. I smiled at them but did not make any comment. However, I knew that that picture, which they saw as Jesus, was the face of Jeffrey Hunter who had played Jesus in a movie.
    Are we sure that the original Black Madonna was about Mary?

  3. What a beautiful story about the nearly two thousand year tradition of married Christian love! And what a joy to hear the sweet testimony of the engaged couples, with their whole lives ahead of them, seeking God’s blessing and full of hope! Thank you, EWTN, Catholic News Agency, and Catholic World Report for this excellent story! <3

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