Whitefriar Street Church, a Carmelite Church in Dublin, has housed relics of St. Valentine since 1836, making the location a popular stop for Catholics to receive blessings around Valentine’s Day.

According to the Irish Province of Carmelites, tradition holds that St. Valentine, a 3rd-century priest or bishop, was arrested for performing marriages and aiding other Christians, which was illegal at the time. He was martyred and buried in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. 

In 496, Pope Gelasius I established a feast day in Valentine’s honor; Valentine continues to be honored on February 14 annually, and over the centuries, he has come to be identified as the patron saint of love.

But how did St. Valentine’s relics come to be held by a church in Dublin?

In 1835, Father Francis John Spratt, the Irish Carmelite who built the original Whitefriar Street Church, left Dublin to visit Rome. There, he preached in the Jesuit church and word of his eloquence reached Pope Gregory XVI, who gave him Saint Valentine’s relics as a mark of esteem. 

In November 1836, the metal casket housing a cedar box containing some bones and a vessel tinged with blood, sealed by the Vicar General in Rome, reached Dublin and was brought in procession from the North Wall to Whitefriar Street Church. 

On November 10, 1836, it was installed in the sanctuary during a High Mass presided over by Archbishop Murray with Father Spratt preaching the sermon. 

Some years later, the casket was placed under the high altar for safekeeping during renovations to the church and largely forgotten about.

After being re-discovered under the altar in 1940, a shrine was erected for St. Valentine's relics in 1956 with a statue by the Dublin artist Irene Broe. After a High Mass on February 14, 1956, presided over by Archbishop Levame, Apostolic Nuncio, the casket was placed in its current shrine.

February 13, 2023: The Shrine of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin. (RollingNews.ie)

February 13, 2023: The Shrine of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin. (RollingNews.ie)

Whitefriar Church in Dublin says that today, the Shrine is visited throughout the year by couples who come to pray to Valentine and ask the saint to watch over them in their lives together. 

More pictures from today’s @Accord_Ireland blessing of engaged couples and their rings, led by @BishopDNulty, in Whitefriar Street Church, @DublinDiocese.

Our thanks to @RMcGreevy1301 for these beautiful images.#stvalentine @KANDLEi pic.twitter.com/jIbNWgyVMr

— CatholicBishops (@CatholicBishops) February 12, 2024

Prayer to St Valentine, shared by Whitefriar Street Church

Saint Valentine,
true servant who shed his blood
in defence of the sacraments and faith in Jesus Christ,
intercede for us today, we pray.

Gain for us the strength to be steadfast like you
in witnessing to the true faith to the end of our days,
and help us never to lose hope in the Lord
who is always near us.

Intercede for those men and women who are preparing for marriage:
help them to know one another and the true meaning
of the sacramental bond they are preparing to enter.

Intercede for those who are joined together
in the sacrament of marriage,
that they may never give up when trials come their way
but may remain faithful to each other,
and to the Lord who blessed their union.

May your love for the Lord be an inspiration for
our love for each other, for the love between husband and wife,
and for the love and charity we extend to all whom we meet.