The story of the relics of St Valentine

In the south of France, in the heart of the old district named the Coste Du Rhône, the town of Roquemaure has always lived in conjunction with its wine production.

 

The "CDR" Label

Roquemaure and its surrounding area have always produced quality wines, which the town officials authenticated by stamping the letters C D R (for Coste Du Rhône) on the barrels. In a sense, this was the first step towards today's AOC system.

As early as the 17th century, Roquemaure's prosperity was linked to its port, one of the busiest on the banks of the river Rhone. From there, the local wine was shipped to other parts of France and Europe.

 

The vineyard diseased

In 1866, a calamity destroyed the economic and social life of the village. For the first time in Europe, the vineyards became diseased with phylloxera, also know as the deadly pest or the Roquemaure stains. At first, despite every effort made, the winegrowers found their future compromised. Finally Maximilien Richard, a rich landowner of Roquemaure, decided to go to Rome with the hope to acquire the relics of a patron Saint that would save the town's economy. At that time people used to believe in the protecting value of Saint relics. They hoped that the relics would restore the health and vigour of their vineyards and protect them from any new harm.

 

A day of hope

On October 25th 1868, the Bishop of Nîmes, lord Plantier, celebrated the arrival of Saint Valentine?s relics acclaimed by the jubilant population of Roquemaure. In the Pousterle Square the virtues of Saint Valentine were extolled in the presence of a large crowd. In a long procession the relics were carried to the church where they would be kept in a shrine to the right of the altar.

Then a big party was given with people dancing and singing to the sound of shepherd?s pipes and drums in the village squares.

 

A romantic festival

This completely free romantic festival was created 23 years ago. It attracts more than 20,000 people every year to Roquemaure, making it one of the most crowded festivals in the Gard region, near Avignon and Orange.

The Saint Valentine association, along with several hundred village people, has imagined for you this year a romantic fête where the art of living, the art of music and entertainment, and the art of loving harmonize with happiness.

 

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