.- Nearly 120 soon-to-be-married couples promised to be faithful to one another in a special Feb. 10 ceremony at the tomb of St. Valentine in the Italian city of Terni.
Engaged couples from across Italy endured freezing temperatures to participate in the ceremony at St. Valentine Basilica, led by the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.
St. Valentine, the third century bishop and martyr, helped Christian couples marry in secret during the time of the Roman persecution.
Archbishop Paglia told the couples gathered for the ceremony, “You are here because before getting married, you want the blessing of St. Valentine, and you want your love to never end, to be authentic, to be forever.”
“You are living in a world that does not understand the importance of marriage and the family,” the archbishop explained.
Nor does society see the “beauty” and “courage” of the choice to commit oneself to married life, he added.
However, he continued, the world needs the sacrificial love of strong, committed marriages.
“If you only think of yourselves, you will end up in loneliness,” he said. “For this reason, pray to St. Valentine for the help to be more united that ever in times of difficulty.”
Archbishop Paglia praised the couples for their belief that love is eternal and reminded them “above all that love requires attention, fidelity and stability.”
The ceremony each year at the Basilica of St. Valentine coincides with activities at local parishes for couples seeking to contract marriage.
The parish of St. Anthony of Terni will host an event on Feb. 16 entitled “Following St. Valentine, Putting our Hearts in the Right Place,” for young couples seeking more information about Christian love.