Saint Valentine in Livorno's Santa Caterina Church

Valentine's Heart Valentine's Heart 13-2-2011 The Mystery of San Valentino in Livorno
For most of us La Festa degli Innamorati, or Valentine’s Day, has associations of hearts, chocolates and romance, both in Livorno and elsewhere in Italy.
But in our haste to buy gifts and cards for our loved ones, few of us are aware that Saint Valentine is much closer than we imagine: in fact right here in the heart of Livorno’s old Venezia district lie relics of that very saint most associated with love and romance, San Valentino Martire, carefully guarded in the lovely 18th-century Church of Santa Caterina.
Until a few years ago the saintly remains were preserved in a glass casket inside the church. I saw them myself when I went to see the acclaimed and then recently restored Vasari altar piece there.  The parish priest pointed the relics out to me, and they are mentioned briefly by the Livorno Diocese on their website.  Mysteriously though, since then the casket has been removed from public view.
Church of Santa Caterina, Livorno Church of Santa Caterina, Livorno The mystery deepens when looking for details of Saint Valentine himself.  Celebrated as the patron saint of happy marriages, love, lovers, young people, and travellers, not much is really known about the saint, except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia, north of Rome, on February 14th. There were probably several saints of the same name and many versions of their lives exist.
What's more,  Livorno is not the only city with a claim on St Valentine’s remains – his relics seem to be scattered around Europe, from Dublin, to Roquemaure (France), to Vienna, Glasgow,  Birmingham, and Sambir in the Ukraine.
Claims regarding saints’ remains may raise an eyebrow or two among sceptics,  but there is no room for scepticism where faith or romance is concerned. Just as the faithful will always be inspired by religious relics, so romantics will continue to be moved by Saint Valentine’s day on 14th February, in Livorno and elsewhere.
With or without its St Valentine relics, Saint Catherine’s Church is well worth a visit. It is found in Livorno's old Venezia quarter, just a short walk from the city centre and the town hall.