|Written by Robert|
Forget Paris, Dublin is really the capital of love.
As Michael Caine reportedly once said, "Now there's not a lot of people who know that!" St Valentines remains have been lying around in Ireland's capital since 1836, given to Fr John Spratt by Pope Gregory XV as a token of esteem.
Fr Spratt, while on one of his speaking tours, was in Rome Italy. His appearances attracted the creme de la creme of Italian society, who turned out to hear him speak. He received all sorts of praise, presents and tokens of esteem. One such token was given to him by his Holiness Pope Gregory XVI which were the remains of Saint Valentine.
The Arrival of St Valentine in Dublin
On Fr Spratts return to Dublin on November 10, 1836, the remains were brought in a procession through the streets of Dublin to Whitefriar Street Church. Large crowds turned out to see the remains (nothing else to do in those days) where the Archbishop of Dublin received them.
The story goes that after the passing of Fr Spratt and the bishop, the remains were forgotten about and put into storage. These were bad times in Ireland and Dublin and with famine and rebellion to contend with, people had other things on their minds.
The Rediscovery of St Valentine
Over one hundred years pass by; we fast forward to Dublin of the 1950s. During renovations in the church, the remains are rediscovered and are removed from storage.
St Valentine's Shrine in Dublin
Worldwide, St Valentine is known as the patron saint of love and lovers, but not a lot of people know that the remains of St. Valentine have been lying around in a Dublin church since 1836. It is open daily to the public so you can drop in and say hello.
To honour his passing a special side altar and shrine were built to house St Valentine's remains and to allow people and lovers to come and pay their respects and to pray for him.
A new statue of the saint which was carved for the alter shows the Saint wearing the red cloth of the martyr and holding his symbolic crocus aloft in blessing all lovers.
The black casket which contains St Valentines remains is kept in a niche under the altar which is secured by a gate. On top of the casket is the coat of arms of Pope Gregory XVI inscribed with the words "This Shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus (Valentine) the Martyr, together with a small vessel said to be tinged with the saint's blood."
The Shrine of St Valentine today
Whitefriar Street Church is located right in the centre of the city and is open to the public daily.
Everyone is welcome to drop in and see the shrine for yourself as many people do from all over the world especially on February 14th.
Each year on St Valentine's day (14th February), the casket containing the remains of St Valentine is taken from the Shrine and placed before high alter of the church for a special Valentine's mass.
How did St Valentine become the patron saint of lovers?
The Christian priest Valentine rose to prominence during the reign of Claudius II who banned marriage for any of his soldiers to stop then leaving the ranks and to keep them focused.
Secretly behind the scenes St Valentine was blessing the marriages but was caught and beheaded on February 14 around 270 AD.
Finding Saint Valentine
It is not difficult to locate Whitefriar Street Church. But you will not find it on Whitefriar Street as it is located on Aungier Street and not Whitefriar Street. It is only a short walk from St Stephens Green and Trinity College.
So is Dublin the capital of Love.?
Well, I guess it should be, after all, it's the heart that counts.