Friday 22 September 2017

WATCH: How did the remains of St Valentine end up in a Dublin church?

Jason Kennedy

Jason Kennedy

Dublin couples will be spending St Valentine's Day a lot closer to the third-century saint than they may know.

The faithful come from far and wide to pray in the Carmelite Whitefriar Street Church. In the 18th century building, an alarmed casket contains a number of St Valentine's bones and a vial of his blood. A small inscription on the box reads: 'This shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood.'

The relics have been in the Dublin church since 1836, when Dublin preacher Fr. John Spratt was gifted them by Pope Gregory XVI.

Although the church regularly has visitors in to pay respects to the Patron Saint of Engagement, there is a notable rise in pilgrims at this time of year, according to the church's Sub-Prior Fr Bernard Murphy.

"A lot of young couples come in, especially after they just got engaged. I've also seen young couples come here and actually propose," he told Independent.ie.

"When I'm around the relics, I feel the care and concern people have for each other. That's what St Valentine was all about."

Ironically, while couples come into pray to St Valentine, they may not know that St Jude, the Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases, is staring down at them.

"The only hopelessness they have is that they're hopelessly in love," Fr Murphy joked.

"I always like to think St Jude gives them the nod to say 'it's okay'."

It's believed that on February 14 278AD, Valentine was beaten with clubs and then executed by beheading for defying Emperor Claudius II. The Emperor ruled that marriages and engagements were to be banned, but Valentine, then working as a holy priest, continued to marry couples in private.

He is also the Patron Saint of happy marriages, against fainting, beekeepers, love, plague and epilepsy.

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