The patron saint of Sorrento is Sant’Antonino, so it’s not surprising that there is a large church in his honour found on the square which also bears his name, Piazza Antonino. He died in AD 626 on February 14th and naturally in Sorrento this takes precedence for celebration over the commercialized St Valentine’s Day which gets pushed into the background as the silver statue of Antonino is taken from the church and marched through the streets.
Most statues of the saint depict him standing on a sea creature, and the famous story goes that on Sorrento beach he saved a child who had been swallowed by a whale; two whalebones in the church are said to come from this very creature. Within the basilica there are many other artefacts dedicated by sailors who survived shipwreck and wished to thank this patron saint of rescues.
Another legend is that the Archangel Michael appeared to Antonino and told him to build a church in Sorrento. This he did. Subsequently his tomb was built alongside it. In the 11th century this was rebuilt into the current Basilica, although Sant’Antonino’s crypt inside is more modern, rebuilt in the 18th century.