Valentino was an Italian Christian bishop, born in Interamna Nahars, now Terni (a town in central Italy, about an hour and a half from Rome), in 176 AD. He died as a martyr in Rome on February 14, 273. At the time Christians living in the Roman Empire were persecuted and often killed.
Valentino dedicated his life to the Christian community and to the city of Terni. He was made bishop of the city in 197. He was chosen as the patron saint of lovers because he was the first religious who celebrated the union between a pagan soldier and a young Christian.
It is said that one day, Valentine's Day, she heard two young lovers arguing near his garden. Valentino offered them a rose and asked them to stop arguing and praying that the Lord would keep their love alive forever. Some time later the couple asked him to celebrate their marriage. When the story spread, many decided to go on pilgrimage to the bishop of Terni on the 14th of each month, the day he used to bless people.
In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius chose the 14th of February as a day to celebrate Valentino because on that day of 273 Valentino died.
The tradition of exchanging gifts and cards to celebrate San Valentino is much more recent and started in America in the 19th century when Esther Howland, a talented businesswoman, began producing Valentine's Day cards on an industrial scale.
Buon San Valentino a tutti!!!