1. Who was Saint Valentine?
Saint Valentine, a revered figure worldwide as the patron Saint of love, had his relics housed in the Whitefriar Street Church in the heart of Dublin. Born in Terni, Italy, Valentine preached and ministered to Christians in Rome during a time of persecution. His acts of performing baptisms and marriage ceremonies within the city walls led to his tragic death on February 14th, 260 AD. Legends surrounding Valentine’s life include a compassionate gesture towards his jailer’s blind daughter, which is believed to have sparked the tradition of giving Valentine’s Day cards.
2. Where can you find the remains of Saint Valentine in Dublin?
The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel & Shrine of Saint Valentine, affectionately known as Whitefriar Street Church, stands on 56 Aungier Street, Dublin. This church is not just a historical landmark; it’s a place where, on Saint Valentine’s Day, couples have their rings blessed in a beautiful ceremony. Visiting this location is a unique opportunity to connect with the legacy of one of the world’s most revered Saints for love.
3. How Saint Valentine Came to Dublin
In 1835, Irish Carmelite priest Father John Spratt visited Rome and left an indelible mark with his sermons. His dedication to the poor in Dublin, especially in the Liberties area, was well-known. Pope Gregory XVI gifted Father Spratt the relics of St. Valentine in 1836, leading to their placement in the Whitefriar Street Church. Since then, people have visited the shrine to write messages to Saint Valentine in a special notebook.
4. Other Romantic Traditions in Ireland
Ireland boasts a rich tapestry of romantic traditions:
- Claddagh Ring: Originating from the Claddagh fishing village in County Galway, this ring symbolizes love, loyalty, and friendship. Wearing it on different hands and fingers conveys different relationship statuses.
- The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne: A tenth-century love story involving Gráinne, daughter of the High King of Ireland, who elopes with Fionn MacCumhaill’s warrior, Diarmuid.
- Leap Year Proposals: Traditionally, 29 February allows women to propose, a tradition rooted in 5th-century Ireland when St. Brigid complained about the wait for proposals.
- Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival: A 160-year-old festival in Lisdoonvarna, offering music, dancing, and the expertise of matchmaker Willie Daly, resulting in around 3,000 marriages.
- Irish Love Poems: Known for their eloquence, the Irish express their romantic side through lyrical poetry.
Ireland’s romantic traditions provide a rich backdrop for celebrating love, making it an enchanting destination for Saint Valentine’s Day. Whether visiting the resting place of Saint Valentine in Dublin or partaking in age-old traditions, Ireland offers a tapestry of love stories and rituals.
Discovering the Sacred Legacy: St. Valentine’s Resting Place in Dublin
By Travel Enthusiast
In the heart of Dublin lies a testament to love, a shrine that beckons both pilgrims and romantic souls alike. The Whitefriar Street Church, nestled on Aungier Street, holds the enshrined remains of Saint Valentine, the revered patron Saint of love. Each year, especially in the days leading up to February 14th, the church becomes a hub of devotion and admiration.
The Shrine of St. Valentine
As you step into the Whitefriar Street Church, you’re greeted by a serene ambiance that sets the stage for a unique encounter with history. The shrine dedicated to St. Valentine consists of an altar adorned with a life-size statue of the martyr. Beneath this altar rests a casket, a reliquary containing the remains of St. Valentine, accompanied by a vessel holding a portion of his blood.
On the feast day of St. Valentine, February 14th, the reliquary takes center stage. Placed before the church’s main altar, it becomes the focal point for special sermons and a heartfelt blessing of rings for couples preparing to embark on the journey of marriage.
The Historical Tale: St. Valentine’s Relics
Recent years have seen discussions about the authenticity of St. Valentine’s relics, with multiple locations claiming to house parts of the martyr’s remains. Rome, Terni, and Glasgow all boast such claims, but Dublin’s assertion stands alone as the only one officially certified by a pope.
Acknowledging the possibility that not all of St. Valentine’s remains might be in the reliquary, the Whitefriar Church recounts the story of how the relics arrived in Dublin. In 1835, Carmelite priest Father John Spratt visited Rome and, following his sermons at the Gesu Church, received the reliquary as a gift from Pope Gregory XVI. The wooden casket, bearing the Pope’s coat of arms, reached Dublin on November 10, 1836, accompanied by a letter attesting to its contents.
This letter, translated from Latin, offers a glimpse into the official certification by Bishop Charles Odescalchi, attesting to the authenticity of the relics and granting Father Spratt the authority to exhibit and venerate them.
Unveiling a Sacred Legacy
The shrine of St. Valentine at the Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin invites travelers, history enthusiasts, and romantics to connect with a sacred legacy. Whether you seek spiritual solace, a touch of history, or a romantic gesture, this hidden gem in Dublin provides a unique blend of all these elements. Plan your visit, follow the signs, and let the heart of hearts captivate you in the heart of Dublin.