The Relics of St. Valentine in Dublin
Ireland and the Catholic faith of the Emerald Isle pt. I
Valentine’s Day is best known as the holiday for romance, displays of affection, a dinner for two and giving flowers. Yet how many know that the actual holiday is Saint Valentine’s Day, and that there is an intriguing connection with the saint to the city of Dublin, capital of Ireland?
The Saint Behind the Holiday
Saint Valentine of Rome was an early Christian martyr from the mid-3rd century AD during the reign of the pagan Emperor Claudius. Little is known of the particulars of his life other than that he was a Latin-speaking priest elevated to the priesthood, but the acts of his ministry were recorded. Known for his steadfastness in faith, miraculous healing of blindness of the daughter of a judge, and his willingness to marry young Christian couples in the faith, he was ultimately arrested, beaten and beheaded by the Emperor after attempting to convert him to Christianity. The day of his martyrdom is set on February 14th, 269; which occurred at Piazza del Popolo, also known as the Fleminian Gate, in Rome. Canonized as a saint in the 5th century, Saint Valentine acquired a good number of patronages ranging from epilepsy and beekeeping to young people and marriages, but he ultimately became identified with courtly (romantic) love by the time of the Renaissance.
So where does “the Irish connection” fit into the story of Saint Valentine?
On bustling Whitefriar Street “in the heart of Dublin,” the Irish Province of the Carmelites maintain a large, stately church that has been a historic center of the Catholic faith in the city. Its cavernous but plainly adorned church interior offers simplistic beauty, but it is best known for its immeasurable wealth in relics of the saints. Out of the sixteen shrines dedicated to St. Jude, St. Therese of Lisieux, Saint Anne and Our Lady of Lourdes, the most prolific shrine is one of four side-altars of the church, where the relics of Saint Valentine are kept.
The Relics of St. Valentine
Brought to the church in the mid-19th century, the relics were forgotten until restorations in the early 1950’s brought to light the great treasure that the church had bequeathed to it. According to the original certificate in the possession of the church, the reliquary includes a small vessel tinged with the blood of Saint Valentine and some other artifacts associated with the martyr. Within a short period of time, a tradition of couples seeking to have the blessing of Saint Valentine in their lives through visiting the shrine has become a staple of the church life. Each February 14th, Whitefriar Street Church celebrates the feast of Saint Valentine with great enthusiasm and reverence, with local as well as out-of-city and international pilgrims coming to ask for the intercession of the saint in their lives and relationships.
A Prayer to Saint Valentine
Dear Lord, who art high in the Heavens,
Giver of Love and Passion,
And He who strings the heart's cords,
Lead the Lovers this day, February ten plus four.
The day during the month of two,
When the date is the perfect number of God
Greater two souls and two hearts.
Some Loves are fleeting,
But that which is built on you will never fail.
So guide the Lovers to know what is to be.
Your truths the Lovers' mouths should speak,
For Your truth is that which is honest to the heart.
Only this, then, should pass over the red lips of the Lovers.
Your art, the Lovers simply a medium.
It is only with True Hearts that You can create a Masterpiece,
So let the Lovers remember that their Soul's Desire
Is the one for which You light their Fire.
And let it be You who creates the Art of the Lovers;
The art of two into one.
Visit the website of the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church here: Whitefriar Carmelite Church.
Discover the Catholic faith of the Emerald Isle through a pilgrimage to Ireland! Don’t forget to For more information on how to plan your next pilgrimage, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.