Tuesday, February 12, 2008

St. Valentine's Day in Rome

St. Valentine was indeed a Roman, and the best place to spend Valentine's Day is Rome! There are actually two historical figures named St. Valentine who are honored on February 14th by the Catholic Church, both religious men who were martyred under the rule of the emperors. The older St. Valentine was a bishop of Terni (near Rome) and was killed under the emperor Aurelian in 197 CE. He was buried on the Via Flaminia which runs north through the center of Rome and is now the Via del Corso. His relics can be visited at the Basilica of San Valentino in Terni. The later St. Valentine was a Roman priest martyred around 269 CE. He was also buried on the Via Flaminia and his relics are interred at the Basilica of Santa Prassede in Rome located on the Esquiline Hill in the neighborhood of Monti (pictured). The traditional day of St. Valentine coincides with the ancient Roman fertility festival, the Lupercalia, which took place on February 15th.

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