Dublin’s Shrine to Saint Valentine

The casket containing the reliquary of St. Valentine, Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin.
The casket containing the reliquary of St. Valentine, Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin.

February 14, 2012

The remains of the martyred saint are enshrined at Dublin’s Whitefriar Street Church

Each year on February 14th and in the days and weeks leading up to Valentine’s day, visitor’s flock to the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street in Dublin to visit the shrine of St. Valentine.

The shrine consists of an altar, above which stands a life-size statue of St.. Valentine. Below the altar lies a casket containing the reliquary, which includes some of the remains of the martyred saint in addition to a vessel with some of his blood. Once a year, on St. Valentine’s feast day, the reliquary is placed before the church’s main altar for special Valentine’s day sermons and a blessing of the rings for those with upcoming weddings.

In recent years, the question of whether the relics can be accurately attributed to St. Valentine has been raised, with churches in Rome, Terni and Glasgow also claiming to have the remains of St. Valentine enshrined.

Whitefriar Church acknowledges that its reliquary may not contain all of St. Valentine’s remains. The reliquary was given to the church following the 1835 visit of a Carmelite named John Spratt to Rome. A noted preacher, Spratt was asked to speak at Rome’s Gesu Church. In thanks and admiration, Pope Gregory XVI is said to have given him the reliquary of St. Valentine. The reliquary arrived in Dublin on November 10, 1936, in a wooden casket with Pope Gregory XVI’s coat of arms, accompanied by a letter attesting to the contents of the casket. The translation from Latin below is available on the website of the Carmelites of Ireland:

“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”

Video footage of Whitefriar Church’s St. Valentine Shrine:

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