The altar shrine to St. Valentine
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.
Those remains 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 containing the relics, and which measures about eighteen inches by twelve inches, is kept in a glass case below a statue of 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 be blessed 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.