Basta Valentine’s Day: Italians Celebrate ‘Single Saint’

Single Saint San FaustinoItalian singles, tired of being in the shadows for St. Valentine’s day celebrations, have proclaimed their own saint and feast day.

After all the hearts-and-flowers nonsense is over, the unattached fete themselves on February 15, the feast day of San Faustino.

The idea launched in 2002 by three single friends who formed a “Single Pride Association,” in which cross-dressing mascot Platinette crowned a “Single of the Year.” It stood for day of awareness of the ’status single’ with a special focus on the problems and discrimination faced by people who are not married.

Since then, the association and its portal are no longer — leaving San Faustino in the hands of club owners and lonely hearts agencies who organize speed dating nights from Sicily to Milan.

Still, singles couldn’t hope for a better protector.

San Faustino, not widely known before the festive resurrection, was a combative martyr who became a saint along with best friend San Giovita.

Both belonged to wealthy pagan families, became knights and converted during a battle in Roman times. They went into martyrdom together, placating the fierce animals meant to kill them, putting out the bonfire meant to burn them and weathering a storm at sea when sent to prison in Naples.

Co-patrons of the Northern Italian city of Brescia, they are credited, among other things, with liberating the city from Visconti troops through an apparition in 1438.

Today singles in Italy combat prejudice and issues like access to low-income housing, the right to adopt children and higher taxes. Nearly 25% of the Italian population is made up of singles and single-parent families.

Some 20% of men and 16% of Italian women consider marriage an “outdated institution,” according to data released in 2006 by national statistics institute ISTAT.