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Dublin, Ireland: Shrine of Saint Valentine & the Icon of Our Lady of Dublin

About Saint Valentine:

There are few hard facts around St. Valentine (known as St. Valentine of Rome) but we know he really did exist, because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to St. Valentine.  He was a priest who lived about 200 years after Christ in the Roman Empire.  The emperor, Claudius had made it illegal for couples to be married before a Catholic priest. Valentine was not dissuaded and helped couples to marry in the Church. This is probably why he has become associated with romantic love.

Eventually, he was caught and arrested for the crime of witnessing marriages. Valentine was thrown in prison and condemned to death. There, he learned that his jailer had a blind daughter. On the night before he died, he wrote her a note, telling her how much God loved her. But how could she read the note? She was blind. On the next day, when Valentine was martyred (hence the color red being associated with his feast day), the jailer’s daughter was healed. She could see. She read the love note, which was signed at the end, “From your Valentine.”

His life and words are a reflection of the total self-gift of Christ for his Church.

In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.

About the Shrine of Saint Valentine:

This Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church (Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) is unexpectedly one of the city’s most romantic spots. Many are drawn here because the church holds the relics of Saint Valentine, a gift from Pope Gregory XVI in 1836, a small vial of Saint Valentine’s blood.

This shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentine the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood. They were given to the church by Pope Gregory XVI. They’re kept in a casket on an altar to the right of the main altar.

Saint Valentine Shrine DublinThe Shrine to St. Valentine is found on the right hand side of the church as you enter. The casket sits beneath the marble altar in a niche which is protected by an ornate iron and glass gate. Above the altar stands the life-sized statue of the saint set into a marble mosaic alcove.

Today, the Shrine is visited throughout the year by couples who come to pray to Saint Valentine and to ask him to watch over them in their lives together.

The feast day of the Saint on February 14th 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 feast day, 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 held throughout the day.

Note: Although some of his relics are located here in Dublin, the skull of Saint Valentine is located in Rome at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin.

About the icon of Our Lady of Dublin:

Statue of Our Lady of DublinThe church also holds a statue known as Our Lady of Dublin, a 15th-century woodcarving that was rescued from a nearby farm.  Little is know for certain about its origin, but local tradition says that the statue originated in St. Mary’s Abbey on Mary Street in Dublin, which was dissolved as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1541.

The first concrete historical mention dates from 1749 in a survey of the Catholic Chapels of Dublin, which refers to a statue in St. Mary’s Lane Parochial Chapel. The chapel was torn down in 1816 to make way for a new school and no further mention of the statue is recorded until it was found by a Carmelite priest:  Father John Spratt in 1824.

The church was built in 1915 with the express purpose of housing the statue, and remains here to this day.

The feast-day of Our Lady of Dublin is celebrated on 8 September.The time-blackened statue of the Blessed Virgin, carrying the Infant Jesus in her arms.

Address: 56 Aungier St, Dublin 2

GPS coordinates: 53° 20′ 23.4132” N, 6° 16′ 0.2640” W

Tel:    +353 (01) 475 8821      Fax: +353 (01) 4758825

email: parish@ocarmwfrst.ie (parish office)

Click here for the Shrine of Saint Valentine official website.

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