Dublin, the City of St. Valentine
Saint Valentine or Saint Valentinus refers to one of
at least three martyred saints of Ancient Rome. The feast of
Saint Valentine was formerly celebrated on February 14 by the
Roman Catholic Church until 1969.
The feast of St. Valentine was first decreed in 496 by Pope
Gelasius I, who also included Saint George among those "...whose
names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known
only to God." The creation of the feast may have been an attempt
to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia that was still
being celebrated in 5th century Rome, on February 15.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the saint whose feast
was celebrated on the day now known as Valentine's Day was
possibly one of the three martyred men who lived in the late 3rd
century during the reign of Emperor Claudius II:
- a priest in Rome
- a bishop of Interamna (modern Terni)
- a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.
It is believed that the priest and the bishop Valentinus are
buried along the Via Flaminia outside Rome, at different lengths
from the city. In the 12th century, the Roman city gate known in
ancient times as the Porta Flaminia (now known as the Porta del
Popolo) was known as the Gate of St. Valentine.
As Gelasius implied, nothing is known about the lives of any
of these martyrs. Many of the current legends surrounding them
were invented in the late Middle Ages in France and England,
when the feast day of February 14 became associated with
romantic love. However, no such sentiment appears in the Golden
Legend of Jacobus de Voragine, compiled about 1260 and one of
the most-read books of the High Middle Ages, which gives
sufficient details of the saints for each day of the liturgical
year to inspire a homily on the occasion. In the very brief vita
of St. Valentine, he refuses to deny Christ before the "Emperor
Claudius" in the year 280. Before his head was struck off, this
Valentine restored sight and hearing to the daughter of his
jailer. Jacobus makes a play with the etymology of "Valentine,"
"as containing valour", but there is nothing of hearts and last
notes signed "from your Valentine," as is sometimes suggested in
modern works of sentimental piety
Relics that were exhumed from the cemetery of Saint
Hyppolytus on the Tibertine Way near Rome, were identified with
St Valentine and placed in a golden casket and transported to
the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland, to
which they were donated by Pope Gregory XVI in 1836. Many
tourists visit the saint's remains on St. Valentine's Day, when
the casket is carried in solemn procession to the high altar for
a special Mass dedicated to young people and all those in love.
The saint's feast day was removed from the Church calendar in
1969 as part of a broader effort to remove saints of legendary
origin. The feast day is still celebrated locally in some
Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church
The Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church is a church in Dublin,
Ireland maintained by the Carmelite order. The church is noted
for having the relics of Saint Valentine, which were donated to
the church in the 19th century by Pope Gregory XVI from their
previous location in the cemetery of St. Hippolytus in Rome.
The church is on the site of a pre-Reformation Carmelite
priory built in 1539. The current structure dates from 1825 and
was designed by George Papworth, who also designed of the St.
Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin. It was extended and enlarged in
1856 and 1868.
The church also contains relics of St. Albert, a Sicilian who
died in 1306. On his feast day (August 7), a relic of the saint
is dipped into the water of St. Albert's Well and is said to
grant healing of body and mind those who use the water.
The church also contains a life-size oak figure of Our Lady
Valentine's Day, on February 14, is the traditional day on
which lovers in the West let each other know about their love.
Its obscure origins as a Catholic Church feast day, said to be
in honor of Saint Valentine are discussed below. Some readers
may also want to see the entry for Valentinius. The day could
not have become associated with romantic love before the High
Middle Ages when such concepts were formulated. In more recent
times has also become a day to tell anyone (including family and
friends) you love them in a friendly way.
The day is now most closely associated with the mutual
exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines". Modern
Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the
figure of the winged Cupid. Starting in the 19th century, the
practice of hand writing notes has largely given way to the
exchange of mass-produced greeting cards. The Greeting Card
Association estimates that world-wide approximately one billion
valentine cards are sent each year, making the day the second
largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The
association also estimates that women purchase approximately 85
percent of all valentines.
Source: Wikipedia (18th
We, Charles, by the divine mercy, Bishop of Sabina of the Holy Roman
Church, cardinal Odescalchi arch priest of the sacred Liberian Basilica,
Vicar General of our most Holy Father the Pope and Judge in ordinary of the
Roman Curia and of its districts, etc., etc.
To all and everyone who shall inspect these our present letters, we
certify and attest, that for the greater glory of the omnipotent God and
veneration of his saints, we have freely given to the Very Reverend Father
Spratt, Master of Sacred Theology of the Order of Calced Carmelites of the
convent of that Order at Dublin, in Ireland, the blessed body of St
Valentine, martyr, which we ourselves by the command of the most Holy Father
Pope Gregory XVI on the 27th day of December 1835, have taken out of the
cemetery of St Hippolytus in the Tiburtine Way, together with a small vessel
tinged with his blood and have deposited them in a wooden case covered with
painted paper, well closed, tied with a red silk ribbon and sealed with our
seals and we have so delivered and consigned to him, and we have granted
unto him power in the Lord, to the end that he may retain to himself, give
to others, transmit beyond the city (Rome) and in any church, oratory or
chapel, to expose and place the said blessed holy body for the public
veneration of the faithful without, however, an Office and Mass, conformably
to the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, promulgated on the 11th
day of August 1691.
In testimony whereof, these letters, testimonial subscribed with our hand,
and sealed with our seal, we have directed to be expedited by the
undersigned keeper of sacred relics.
Rome, from our Palace, the 29th day of the month of January 1836.
C.Cardinal vicar Regd. Tom 3. Page 291
Philip Ludovici Pro-Custos
Shrine of St. Valentine,
"Throughout the centuries since Valentine received martyrdom there have
been various basilicas, churches and monasteries built over the site of his
grave. Many restorations and reconstructions took place at the site,
therefore over the years. In the early 1800s such work was taking place and
the remains of Valentine were discovered along with a small vessel tinged
with his blood and some other artefacts.
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 Dublinís 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.
On November 10, 1836, the Reliquary containing the remains arrived in
Dublin and were brought in solemn procession to Whitefriar Street Church
where they were received by Archbishop Murray of Dublin. With the death of
Fr Spratt interest in the relics died away and they went into storage.
During a major renovation in the church in the 1950s/60s they were returned
to prominence with an altar and shrine being constructed to house them and
enable them to be venerated. The statue was carved by Irene Broe and depicts
the saint in the red vestments of a martyr and holding a crocus in his hand."
"Today, the Shrine is visited throughout the year by couples who come to
pray to Valentine and to ask him to watch over them in their lives together.
The feastday of the saint on February 14 is a very popular one and many
couples come to the Eucharistic celebrations that day which also includes a
Blessing of Rings for those about to be married. On the feastday, the
Reliquary is removed from beneath the side-altar and is placed before the
high altar in the church and there venerated at the Masses. At the 11.00am
and 3.15pm Masses there are special sermons and also a short ceremony for
the Blessing of Rings for those about to be married." The Irish
Province of the Order of Carmelites