Madigan Muses: St. Valentine and the Irish
by Marilyn Madigan
Throughout the world, St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14. Did you know that there is a special relationship between St. Valentine and Dublin Ireland? Some of the Relics of St. Valentine are located in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church (Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel).
How did these Relics come to Dublin and the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church? The Relics were a gift from Pope Gregory XVI to Father John Spratt.
Fr. Spratt was a famous preacher who was invited to speak at the Jesuit’s Church of the Gesu in Rome. Many of Rome’s faithful heard him and offered him tokens of gratitude. One of his admirers was Pope Gregory XVI, who gave Fr. Spratt the Gift of St. Valentine’s Relics, including a vial of the Saint’s blood. The Relics were in a simple sealed wooden box that Fr. Spratt brought back to Dublin.
On November 10, 1836, the Relics were brought in solemn procession and received by Archbishop Murray to Whitefriar Street Church. During the 1950s, there was a major renovation of Whitefriar Street Church; a Shrine to St. Valentine was constructed including an Altar to house the Relics and a Statue of the Saint. The Statue depicts St, Valentine in the red vestments of a martyr.
The Shrine is visited by many to pray to the Saint, for love and happiness. Every St. Valentine’s Day, the Relics are brought to the main Altar. At the Mass on the Feast Day, there is a special ceremony to bless tings of those couples who are planning to be married.
If you are visiting Dublin, I recommend visiting this Church. I had the wonderful experience of attending Mass at this Church on Easter Sunday in 2016. It is a very peaceful and beautiful spot for a quiet moment of reflection in the busy inner city of Dublin.
Prayer to St Valentine
true servant who shed his blood
in defence of the sacraments and faith in Jesus Christ,
intercede for us today, we pray.
Gain for us the strength to be steadfast like you
in witnessing to the true faith to the end of our days,
and help us never to lose hope in the Lord
who is always near us.
Intercede for those men and women who are preparing for marriage:
help them to know one another and the true meaning
of the sacramental bond they are preparing to enter.
Intercede for those who are joined together
in the sacrament of marriage,
that they may never give up when trials come their way
but may remain faithful to each other,
and to the Lord who blessed their union.
May your love for the Lord be an inspiration for
our love for each other, for the love between husband and wife,
and for the love and charity we extend to all whom we meet.
*Marilyn Madigan is the National Vice President of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and a Deputy Director of the United Irish Societies of Cleveland. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. John College and retired from Nursing at University Hospitals of Cleveland.