This year the annual Celebration of Promise, which for centuries has gathered people from different countries and Italian cities, will be presided over by Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni. The city is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Rome.
The couples will receive a parchment as a memento of their avowal of faithful love. Bishop Paglia also will give them a copy of St. Luke´s Gospel.
Valentine, a bishop of Terni, suffered martyrdom about the year 268. For many years, there was confusion in the calendar of saints´ days among Christians with this same name in times of the Roman Empire. Stories vary on why he was made the patron of couples in love.
One legend says that Valentine opposed Emperor Claudius II´s prohibition against allowing Roman legionaries to marry, supposedly because single men were tougher in battle.
Valentine disobeyed the order and presided over the marriage of a pagan legionary to a young Christian woman. From that day on, says the legend, the bishop blessed the marriages of numerous soldiers.