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Traveling through historical Spain and Italy

Discover the legend surrounding Saint Valentine, and his connection to history, Spain, and Italy. We delve into the myths and reality of this holiday!

Discover the legend surrounding Saint Valentine, and his connection to history and Spain. We delve into the myths and reality of this holiday!
Basilica of Saint Valentine, city of Terni, Italy |

Which Saint Valentine is commemorated on February 14th? How is Spain connected to this?

This legend certainly has some basis. But only some... Interestingly, even the Catholic Church itself does not know which Saint Valentine is commemorated annually on February 14th!

In 1969, it excluded this holiday from its official calendar, as it could not documentally confirm the historical facts about several different Christian martyrs named Valentine, who lived around the III century, performed miracles, and died for their faith. Two of them, presumably, were patrons of lovers and both were executed (according to legend) on February 14th.

Basilica of Saint Valentine

One of them was mentioned earlier, and the second died a few years later — in 273 (and also was a martyr). Little is known about him: they say he was the first bishop of the city of Terni, located 100 km from Rome; that he performed miracles; and that he was the first priest to marry a pagan with a Christian... 

Then, during the persecutions of Christians, he was executed. In Terni, he is considered the patron not only of lovers but also of the city as a whole. There, in the Basilica of Saint Valentine, his relics were found in 1605 during the reconstruction of the church and were buried under the altar.

Strangely enough, the bones and skull, once belonging to this patron of lovers, are located in several different churches in Italy, Spain, and even Ireland. In Rome, in the Church of Saint Mary, among other relics, there is a glass reliquary with the skull of Saint Valentine.

Church of Saint Anthony In Madrid

In Madrid, in the Church of Saint Anthony, not only his skull but also several bones, found recently in the basement of the church and marked with his name, are kept.

The third skull of Saint Valentine since the XVI century is located in the Cathedral Church of the town of Toro, in the Spanish province of Zamora. It was brought there in a silver box with the name of the saint by the chaplain of Emperor Charles I — Diego Enriquez, who in 1545 was issued a papal license to store this relic in Toro. In green Ireland, in Dublin, in one of the crypts of the church of the Carmelites, the remains of Saint Valentine, given to it by Pope Gregory XVI in 1835, are also kept.

Which of the listed skulls and bones belonged to Saint Valentine — the patron of love and friendship — neither science nor the Church knows. Perhaps none... The main thing is that there is Love, and the more Saints represent it, the better, isn't it?

Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre in Calatayud, Spain

The rest of the remains of Saint Valentine were transported by the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre from Rome to the Spanish city of Calatayud (Zaragoza, Spain), where the headquarters of the Order on the Iberian Peninsula was located. Now part of the martyr's remains is kept in the Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre in Calatayud, and the other part is presented to the residents of the small Spanish town of Tobed, located nearby and once belonging to the same order.

The residents of Tobed consider Saint Valentine their heavenly patron and celebrate him in honor of the saint three days a year. On his memorial days, they hold solemn processions: the remains of the martyr Valentine are taken out of the church and carried with respect and love through the streets of the town!


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