Francis K. Beirne explains why February 14th is a red-letter day for many Irish couples


Saint Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world as the day of love, but Ireland has some of the most romantic traditions to celebrate on 14th February. And so we should, as the relics of Saint Valentine reside in the Whitefriar Street Church, a beautiful church located in the heart of Dublin city. People come from all over Ireland and the world to visit Saint Valentine’s relics and pray in the hope that he will grant them love and happiness.

Saint Valentine was born in Terni, Italy, and famously preached and ministered to the Christians of Rome at a time when Christians were brutally persecuted within the Roman Empire. He performed baptisms as well as marriage ceremonies within the city walls of Rome, a practice that would ultimately cost him his life.

Legend says that he tried to convert the lifelong pagan Emperor Claudius II to Christianity. Claudius was outraged and condemned Valentine to death. On February 14th, 260 AD, Saint Valentine was brought to the Flaminian Gate in Rome, now Piazza del Puopolo. Here he was beaten and beheaded.

According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting message himself after he fell in love with a young girl, his jailor’s blind daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is said that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine”, and she miraculously gained sight so that she could read the note herself. It is from this that the tradition of giving cards on Valentine’s Day emerged.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own