Category: Archive

Pol: saint’s relics can boost tourism

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A call has been made to boost tourism in Dublin by cashing in on its links with St. Valentine and establishing the city as one of the premier worldwide romantic holiday destinations.

Fianna Fail backbencher Martin Brady said Dublin should highlight the presence of the remains of St. Valentine in the city’s Whitefriar Street Church, where his relics already attract many devotees.

While promotion of Dublin as a city of love would focus on the saint’s remains, a special trail of romance could be signposted by pink heart-shaped signposts.

“We could rival Paris as one of the top cities for love and benefit from an increase in people seeking romantic holiday breaks,” he said.

St. Valentine’s relics have been in the possession of the Carmelite “White Friar” Fathers since they were brought back from Rome in 1836.

Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo

Subscribe to one of our great value packages.

A famous reforming Carmelite priest and prior of the order, John Spratt, was given the saint’s remains as a personal gift by the pope at the time.

The decorated lead casket measuring about 18 inches by 12 inches containing the relics is kept in a glass case below a statue to the saint at a side altar in the church.

Brother P.J. Breen of Whitefriar Street Church said traditionally on St. Valentine’s Day the reliquary is placed on a table at the high altar for people to venerate.

“It will be there for the day,” he said. “It is awkward to get him out and put him back again.

“We get couples coming in right throughout the year. At the start of February the numbers coming in build up and we also bless rings for couples who are getting married.

“It is surprising how many people realize he is here.”

There will be seven masses in the Church on Thursday. “We do special readings for St. Valentine, special prayers and the blessing of rings at all the Masses,” Breen said.

In 1999, Franciscan friars in Glasgow unveiled a wooden casket that they claimed also contained some relics of the saint, who died in 269 AD. The body was exhumed in 1835.

The festival of St. Valentine probably derives from the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalis on Feb. 15. It was originally a festival for shepherds to secure fertility for the fields, their flocks and themselves.

It gradually became associated with the Feb. 14 feast day of the martyred saint.

The Franciscans said their relics had been found in a dusty box on top of a cupboard in a chapel house. The friars had been asked in 1868 to look after the remains by a French family who had owned other religious relics.

“We are not told that we have the entire body and everything there is with it,” said Breen. “The body itself would be a first-class relic and anything which touched it is also a relic.”

He said he believed the heart of the saint was in the basilica in Rome.

“The letter we have tells that the casket contains the body of St. Valentine but it doesn’t go into any more details than that,” he said.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese