The shrine of St. Valentine is found at the beautiful Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin, Ireland.
Fr. John Spratt was an Irish Carmelite and a well-known preacher, who worked among the poor in the Liberties in Dublin, Ireland. He built a church ‘Our Lady of Mount Carmel’ at Whitefriar Street. Fr. Spratt visited Rome in 1835 and while there he preached at the Gesu, a famous Jesuit church, where many of the Roman elite came to hear him. While there, he was given many gifts, including a gift from Pope Gregory XVI -- the remains of Saint Valentine, including a small vessel with this blood, which had been found during renovations of the basilica built over the site of his grave. It can be taken that Pope Gregory XVI was also anxious for Ireland to receive a holy relic then as the Roman Catholics were beginning to be allowed practice their religion again, but most ancient Irish relics had been destroyed.
Photo courtesy of The Irish Province of the Order of Carmelites (O.Carm.)
St. Valentine’s remains arrived in Dublin on 10th November 1836 and were brought by procession to Whitefriar Street Church, received by Archbishop Murray of Dublin. An accompanying letter, in Latin, read:
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.
Regd. Tom 3. Page 291
Philip Ludovici Pro-Custos
On the death of Fr. Spratt, local interest in the remains diminished and the relics were put into storage. In the 1950/60s the Whitefriar Street Church underwent extensive renovations and a special altar and shrine were built to house St. Valentine’s relics. A wooden casket with St. Valentine’s remains lies beneath a marble altar to the right side of the main altar. The top of the casket has the coat of arms of Gregory XVI and the letter of Cardinal Odescalchi inscribed in English on two large gold plates. Another smaller plate inscribed ‘This shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood.’
Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, Dublin. Wikimedia Commons Photo
A life-sized statue of St. Valentine stands in a marble mosaic alcove above the altar. The statue of the saint has red vestments and is holding a crocus. An ornate iron and glass gate surrounds the area.
Couples come to visit St. Valentine throughout the year to pray to him to watch over them. On St. Valentine’s Day, 14th February, the relics are placed on the high altar in the church and celebrated at the masses, with special sermons and a ‘Blessing of the Rings’ for couples about to be married.
Light a candle for your intentions at Whitefriar Street Church.
The priests at Whitefriar Street Church offer an online service to light a candle. So, from anywhere in the world you can log onto the Whitefriar website - click here - and you can choose the saint to light a candle to and leave details of your intentions. You will get a message back the next day to say a candle will be lit for your requested intentions and they will keep you and your family in their prayers. This service is free of charge, and, if you would like, you can give a donation online. What a great service -- thank you Whitefriar Street Church!
Prayer to St Valentine
O glorious advocate and protector,
look with pity upon our wants,
hear our requests,
attend to our prayers,
relieve by your intercession the miseries
under which we labour,
and obtain for us the divine blessing,
that we may be found worthy to join you
in praising the Almighty for all eternity:
through the merits of
Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Part 1: Origins of St. Valentine's Day
Stay tuned for 'Celebrating Love Worldwide,' Part 3 in our 4-part series on 'The Story of St. Valentine's Day.' Meanwhile, what better time to go shopping for a gift made in Ireland this Valentine's Day ... Browse Here
Check out more Valentine's features at our Grá XOXO headquarters page.