Though it’s hard to verify any of this, the question still remains – why is Saint Valentine in Ireland so far from home?
The story goes back to the 1800s. The then-famous preacher, Father John Spratt, had travelled to Rome where he was invited to speak at the Church of the Gesù where some of Rome’s most faithful had come to hear him preach. Many listeners also offered him ‘tokens’ of gratitude and respect – some of which came in the form of relics. One such admirer was Pope Gregory XVI, who bestowed upon Fr Spratt the gift of St Valentine’s remains and a vial of his blood. This simple wooden box trimmed with a silk ribbon and wax seal travelled back to Ireland with the good father, arriving on the island in November of 1836.
St Valentine’s shrine and final resting place of his relics in Dublin. Photo credit: Whitefriar Street Church
Since then, St Valentine’s relics have been set in a lovely little shrine in a small alcove to the right of the main altar of Whitefriar Street Church (also called Our Lady of Mount Carmel). On Valentine’s Day every year, St Valentine’s reliquary (the box containing his remains and the vial) are set in the place of honour on the high altar, amidst a blessing of the rings ceremony. Local and visiting couples alike are invited to attend this long-standing tradition! Throughout the year, others are welcome to visit St Valentine’s shrine, leaving him notes of gratitude or asking for his guidance and advice.
So there you have it – St Valentine’s epic journey from ancient Rome to modern Dublin.
St Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide on February – a remnant of celebrating saint’s days, or feast days. St Valentine is the patron saint of lovers, couples, and happy marriages.