Who was Saint Valentine?
Saint Valentine was a 3rd century priest or bishop. Tradition holds that he was arrested for performing marriages and aiding other Christians, which was illegal at the time. He was martyred and buried in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Pope Gelasius I established a feast day in Valentine’s honour in 496 and the saint is remembered on the 14th of February each year. Over the centuries he has come to be identified as the patron saint of love.
How did the relics of Saint Valentine come to rest in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin?
Father Francis John Spratt, O.Carm (1795-1871) left Dublin to visit Rome in 1835. There he preached in the Jesuit church and word of his eloquence reached Pope Gregory XVI, who gave him Saint Valentine’s relics as a mark of esteem. In November 1836 the metal casket housing a cedar box containing some bones and a vessel tinged with blood, sealed by the Vicar General in Rome, reached Dublin and was brought in procession from the North Wall to Whitefriar Street Church. On the 10th of November it was installed in the sanctuary during a High Mass presided over by Archbishop Murray with Father Spratt preaching the sermon. Some years later the casket was placed under the high altar for safekeeping during renovations to the church and largely forgotten about.
Re-discovered in 1940 under the altar, a shrine was erected for the relics in 1956 with a statue by the Dublin artist Irene Broe. After a High Mass on the 14th of February 1956 presided over by Archbishop Levame, Apostolic Nuncio, the casket was placed in its current shrine.
Why do people visit the Shrine of Saint Valentine?
As tradition holds Saint Valentine is the patron saint of love, it may seem obvious why many people visit the shrine! However, in speaking to people on the Saint’s feastday, it is clear that people visit for a broad range of reasons. While some are looking for love themselves, others come to remember a deceased loved one, to pray for love for their children or siblings, or to seek a blessing on their relationship.
When should I visit St Valentine?
The Shrine can be visited all year round, however, on the feastday of Saint Valentine (February 14th), there are two special masses celebrated at 11.30 am and 3.00 pm, which include a blessing of rings. This year, the Celebrant and Preacher will be Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. All are welcome for these celebrations. For more information on Saint Valentine, visit www.whitefriarstreetchurch.ie