The St. Valentine altar in Dublin
By Irish Echo Staff
St. Valentine is an Italian saint.
But he rests in Dublin.
Some of him at any rate.
St. Valentine died in 269 AD.
The Catholic Church venerates him as the patron saint of couples in love, planning to be married, and of married life.
His remains were exhumed in 1835 from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina, near Rome.
A famous reforming Carmelite priest and prior of the order, John Spratt, was given the saint’s remains as a personal gift by Pope Gregory XVI and he took them back to Dublin in 1836.
They have been in the possession of the Carmelite White Friar fathers ever since and rest in the order’s church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Whitefriar Street.
The decorated lead casket, measuring about eighteen inches by twelve inches, containing the relics is kept in a glass case below a statue to the saint at a side altar in the church.
On St. Valentine’s Day, that being today, the reliquary is placed on a table at the high altar for people to venerate.
The feast of St. Valentine probably derives from the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalis on February 15.
It was originally a festival for shepherds to secure fertility for the fields, their flocks and themselves.
It gradually became associated with the February 14 feast day of the martyred saint.
Each year, on the day before the feast day, it has become traditional for a Catholic priest to bless an engaged couple in the Whitefriar Street church.
Yesterday, Anna Keegan from Dublin and Seamus Walsh from Mayo were the couple receiving the special blessing.
Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin was on hand to bless the engaged couple who plan on marrying in October this year.
“It was something very special that we know we now have for ourselves,” said Seamus Walsh.
Bishop Nulty ended the ceremony by telling the couple: “The commitment of the young couple getting married is so moving because they say it’s against all odds – no matter what happens – that we’ll be there for each other.”