Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finding Saint Valentine In Dublin, Ireland

One afternoon, while walking back to our hotel from the Temple Bar area of Dublin, Ireland, we saw a street sigh arrow that pointed south west and stated " The relics of Saint Valentine." Intrigued, I looked in my Dorling Kindersley Travel Guide and saw that the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church (photo below) was the repository for these relics, and I paid a visit the next day.

The Whitefriar Street Carmelite Catholic Church is located at 56 Aungier St. It was built in 1827, and stands on the site of a 16th century Carmelite priory.

Inside the main body of the church, to the right side, is a shrine to St. Valentine. A casket sits beneath the marble altar in a niche which is protected by an ornate iron and glass gate. Above the altar stands a life-sized commemorative statue of the saint set into a marble mosaic alcove.

A casket sits beneath the marble altar in a niche which is protected by an ornate iron and glass gate. There is a sign on the casket that says: "This shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood."

According to the Irish Province of the Order of Carmelites web site:

"In 1835 an Irish Carmelite by the name of John Spratt was visiting Rome. He was well known in Ireland for his skills as a preacher and also for his work among the poor and destitute in Dublin’s Liberties area. He was also responsible for the building of the new church to Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Whitefriar Street. While he was in Rome he was asked to preach at the famous Jesuit Church in the city, the Gesu. Apparently his fame as a preacher had gone before him, no doubt brought by some Jesuits who had been in Dublin. The elite of Rome flocked to hear him and he received many tokens of esteem from the doyens of the Church. One such token came from Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) and were the remains of Saint Valentine."

The web site also states: "The Reliquary contains some of the remains of St Valentine – it is not claimed that all of his remains are found in this casket." It is thought that the Church of Praxedes, in Rome, Italy, also contains some of the remains of the saint.

The Irish Province of the Order of the Carmelites web site (same link as above) also has very interesting information about the legend of Saint Valentine. beginning with ancient Rome, as February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno - the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses and whom the Romans knew as the Goddess of women and marriage, and culminating with the martyrdom on February 14th, in either 269 or 270 of Valentinus for his belief in Christ. In 496 Pope Gelasius I named February 14 as Saint Valentine’s Day. From that day, on each Valentine’s Day, messages of affection, love and devotion have been exchanged all around the world.

After Mass is celebrated on St. Valentine's Day in the Whitefriar Church, a short ceremony for the "Blessing of Rings" is held for those about to be married. On the altar in front of the statue are open books where visitors can write their intentions for St. Valentine, and of course I added mine, and also a sincere thank you for almost 34 years of happy marriage!

Also of note in the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church was a beautiful shrine that contained a Flemish oak statue of Mary holding the Christ child that dates to the late 15th century or early 16th century and is called “Our Lady of Dublin.” It is believed to be the only wooden statue of its kind to escape destruction when Ireland's monasteries were sacked at the time of the Reformation. (click on photo to enlarge to see the statue's details)

Dublin was certainly a city full of wonderful surprises, and finding St. Valentine one was one of the most pleasant and unexpected!


Jeanne said...

Another great post about Ireland, and your visit to the Church was a great story. I enjoyed the history too. Ireland is so far away, but you bring it closer when you tell about your time there. Thanks for sharing.

Take care, Jeanne

dana said...

Good Morning New York!

What a treat it is to read about another one of your wonderful experiences in Ireland! I never knew the history of St. Valentine's Day---thanks. That place looked so beautiful, too.

Did I ever tell you how much I love the music selections you have? Have a great day--I'm going to see Mamma Mia AGAIN today!! :-)

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Hi Pat,
I'm so glad you found St. Valentine and shared him and this bit of history with us! Now if I ever go to Ireland, I'll know where to look!

Beverly said...

Happy day, dear Pat. I loved learning about the connection of Saint Valentine to this church.

And, my goodness. That altar to Our Lady of Dublin is breathtaking.

Anonymous said...

I love to encounter the pleasant and unexpected on my travels. This would be one of them. Thanks for sharing your travels with us. I'm enjoying your narration and photos.


Michelle said...

Once again, you tell a wonderful story and I love the pictures are fantastic.


Lenka said...

Beautiful... An old architecture and history... Lovely day in you blog!


Ruthie said...

Thanks for coming by my blog.
Enjoyed your posts about Ireland.
I, too, am a retired nurse.
I enjoy meeting new friends in blogland.

Strider said...

Some nice shots there.

Becca said...

Wonderful post! I love Ireland but never knew that St. Valentine's relics were in Dublin. While here ... I have read all your marvelous posts and enjoyed them very much!

Cori G. said...

It looks like a beautiful church, but the facade doesn't look that old. I guess I better check out thier website to see if there's anything on that:).
How are things in the East, Pat? We are overcast and hot and I'm very thankful my work week is over. I hope you have a wonderful Friday and weekend.
:) Cori

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Still here, Pat, just reading at breakneck speed and writing is impossible! Hope that you're heading into a wonderful weekend with plenty of sunshine.

Lisa B. said...


M.Kate said...

Fantastic post! I did go to Dublin once..many moons ago. I remember walking down the streets and finding so many little shops selling beautiful things. I still have my clover paper weight from Dublin on my table. this is another fab always do the best! Love it, have a fantastic weekend Pat, much love and HUGS :p

Willow said...

Very interesting post. I did not know the history of St Valentinus.

About the bunnies~~yes I do sell them :)

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

How interesting! I never knew the story behind St. Valentine. I fell like I visit Ireland whenever you take us there with you!

Donna said...

Great post about your travels in Ireland. I enjoyed the history and the beautiful photos.


Dee Dee said...

Oh Pat...another wonderful place you visited and I've so enjoyed seeing your photos and hearing the history...I love this kind of grand that you were able to see so many interesting and beautiful places...thank you Pat for sharing..

steviewren said...

I love it that you added your thanks for your happy marriage to the visitors book at the church. The statue is exquisite. Its patina is what makes it look like it has depth and a warm glow.

M.Kate said...

Dearest Pat, I've got an award for you coz your blog is a 'must see' one! Happy weekend, much love and hugs always :D

M.Kate said...

Dearest Pat, I've got an award for you coz your blog is a 'must see' one! Happy weekend, much love and hugs always :D

Joanne Kennedy said...

Again, another interesting post. I love reading your blog. I am always learning so much.

You have such a great way of writing that I feel like I've really been to visit these places.

You should write a travel book.


Nihal said...

Great article, carissima Pat!

Dublin is a great place to visit, and yours is the best Irish culture page to my view. The Irish connection with the church attracts me, and YES I should go to Dublin to find my Valentine without waiting for Feb 14th, lol:)

My wishes for Buon Ferragosto to you and your Family. Have the happiest and joyful day.

Warm greetings & Lots of Love.


Sandra Ree said...

Lovely post, Pat. I would love to travel to Ireland one day just to see the churches. I was brought up in the North and loved the Catholic churches there, they're breathtaking compared to the ones here in the South. I have heard the St. Valentine story before, however, you presented it here so beautifully.

Thank you for your visit today, I've definitely added you to my blog list as well! :)

Kathy said...

Hi Pat, We are back here for a few days and I have so enjoyed reading your last few posts on Ireland, WOW we missed so much, the art is incredible, I loved Paul Henry's pieces, and serving dinner which is very much like a Vermeer, and I actually loved the Harry Kernoff painting, It intriged me to find out more and I found out that it features a backdrop of over 50 Dublin pub names, including The Bailey, Shelbourne, and International but not O'Briens where it had hung for 30 years, maybe that is why it was sold, I wonder who bought it(more web research is needed). The watercolours and oils are beautiful, you were so lucky to be there on that evening. I can see I will have to return, and St. Valentine what a wonderful surprise. hugs, Kathy.

Junie Moon said...

It's so nice to read this. I think we've become somewhat removed from the whole concept of St. Valentine and the day we celebrate has transformed into a lot of commercial hype. Your post elevates St. Valentine back into a real living entity of honor.

Alex said...

Good afternoon. I hope you're having a good week.

Kathy said...

Hi again Pat, I send you an email re NYC. have a great weekend, Kathy.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Lovely story!

Tara said...


I find out new info all the time from nice you added your intention to the bk...34 yrs, wow!

Anonymous said...

How lovely Pat I didn't know part of St Valentine was there! It was common to divide relics especially if you wanted to become a site of pilgrimage and thus get money in offerings from people visiting in return for prayers for their souls.

Yes the Reformation was responsible for such wanton distruction of anything which people could use to hang on to their old beliefs. Such a terrible waste.

Daniela said...

Finally I've found the time to read this lovely post of yours dear Pat, thank you so much for having pointed it me out, it's really interesting, I didn't know that some relics of St Valentine were kept in Dublin !!
Have a wonderful Saturday, my friend xxoo