The Relics of St. Valentine
Venue: Whitefriar Street Church, 56 Aungier Street, Dublin 2 Website: http://www.carmelites.ie/Ireland/Whitefriar%20St/whitefriarstreet.htm Price: FREE Date: ongoing but particularly February 14th Time: various
Did you know that St.Valentine’s relics are on display here in our very own “dear, old, dirty Dublin”? It’s true! If you are game for a historical scavenger hunt and looking for an interesting way to mark the holiday—why not head down to Whitefriar Street Church located right next to DBS? There are special masses at 11:00 and 3:15 pm and a blessing of the rings for those about to be married. The relics include a vial of St. Valentine’s blood, his remains and some additional artifacts from his life. On his feast day (February 14th) , the relics are moved up to the front of the church and displayed prominently. Various competing versions of the legend of St. Valentine exist—some say he earned his status as a martyr after his execution for secretly marrying couples under the tyranny of Rome’s Emperor Claudius II who had banned marriage throughout the Roman empire. Others say that the real legacy of Valentine’s Day is friendship and affection—exhibited through St. Valentine’s befriending and tutoring of a little blind girl who later miraculously regained her vision. Wherever the truth of the legend lies–you know where to find his relics!
Want to read a bit more on how an Italian saint came to find his final resting place in Dublin? The following is an excerpt from the Irish Holy Order of the Carmelites website:
“In 1835 an Irish Carmelite by the name of John Spratt was visiting Rome. He was well known in Ireland for his skills as a preacher and also for his work among the poor and destitute in Dublin’s Liberties area. He was also responsible for the building of the new church to Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Whitefriar Street. While he was in Rome he was asked to preach at the famous Jesuit Church in the city, the Gesu. Apparently his fame as a preacher had gone before him, no doubt brought by some Jesuits who had been in Dublin. The elite of Rome flocked to hear him and he received many tokens of esteem from the doyens of the Church. One such token came from Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) and were the remains of Saint Valentine. On November 10, 1836, the Reliquary containing the remains arrived in Dublin and were brought in solemn procession to Whitefriar Street Church where they were received by Archbishop Murray of Dublin. With the death of Fr Spratt interest in the relics died away and they went into storage. During a major renovation in the church in the 1950s/60s they were returned to prominence with an altar and shrine being constructed to house them and enable them to be venerated. The statue was carved by Irene Broe and depicts the saint in the red vestments of a martyr and holding a crocus in his hand.”