In the midst of all the build up, the cards, the red paper hearts and pink and red balloons appearing in shop windows country-wide, I got to thinking about the fact that The Granny had brought me to visit St. Valentine once, many years ago. I thought given the week that’s in it, it was time to go back and say hello.
The remains of St. Valentine are housed in the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Whitefriar Street in Dublin. They have been there since the 19th century but were only rediscovered in the 1950s during a renovation of the church. His remains, as well as a small vessel tinged with his blood, are beneath a small altar and a statue of him in a large alcove along the right hand side of the church. While I was there a few ladies and gents were cleaning and decorating the church. I was reminded of the lady in The Commitments scraping away at the candle wax in the foyer of the same church saying ‘If you wouldn’t do it for God, sure who would you do it for?’ Lol.
As I was standing admiring the altar and reading the visitors book for St. Valentine, one of the ladies came over with a bunch of beautiful red roses for it. I’m not sure if that’s the usual flower of choice or just this week. The visitors book is a funny thing…some people have put in prayers for help and guidance in their love lives.
“Please send my one true love St. Valentine, I’m ready now”.
A lady had put in a note to St. Valentine asking him to send her daughter someone cos “she’d love a boyfriend”. I guess Cupid and St. Valentine got mixed up somewhere along the way.
I was somewhat shocked to read the details beside the altar. In case you cannot read the text on the photo, it says:
St. Valentine was a holy priest
who lived in Rome
in the third century.
Having assisted the martyrs
in the persecution under
the Emperor Claudius II
he was taken prisoner in A.D. 268.
The Prefect of Rome tried
to induce Saint Valentine
to renounce his faith
but both his threats and
promises were in vain.
He then ordered that the saint
be beaten with clubs
and afterwards beheaded.
The sentence was carried out on
February 14th 290 A.D.
I’m not sure how the anniversary of the clubbing and beheading of a martyr became a cause for celebration but no doubt Mr. Hallmark and his cohorts have had a little something to do with the whole thing.
The remains of St. Valentine were gifted to an Irish preacher called Father John Spratt in 1835 in recognition of his wonderful preaching skills and they were received into the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Archbishop Murray on November 10, 1836*.
So when you are waking up to roses and chocolates and glasses of champagne and all sorts of random OTT-ness on Sunday morning, try to spare a thought for the humble origins of the day and poor oul’ Valentinus and his severed head 🙂
*You can read the full text of the story of how St. Valentine’s remains came to be in Dublin, below 🙂