On February 14th, Whitefriar Church is visited by couples hoping that their relationship will be blessed, Harry Warren reveals more…
Ambling along in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Dublin’s streets, it is nice to take the opportunity to step into one of its many churches for a few moments of quiet contemplation away from the world. The Carmelite church at Whitefriar St. is one of my favourites especially when sunlight is shining and illuminating the church’s beautiful stained-glass windows casting beams of coloured light on the interior, creating a transcendent atmosphere perfect for reflection and introspection.
And for the romantically inclined around the 14th of February, St Valentine’s Day, perhaps consider a visit there as well. The church has an interesting history, as it is the resting place of the man himself, St. Valentine, the patron saint of love, and its story should be told.
Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin is located between Aungier Street and Wexford Street and is just a few minutes’ walk away from St. Patrick’s Cathedral and park. The church building has a rather modest exterior but the interior is quite beautiful. It was built by George Papworth, a noted architect who also designed St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, and was consecrated by Archbishop Dr. Murray on November 11th, 1827.
Built of stone and covered with Roman cement it measured 200 feet long, 34 feet wide and cost in those days a princely sum of £4,500.
In 1950, a statue and shrine were built to honour St. Valentine and they were installed in the church.
Walk halfway down the church on the right-hand side and you will find the statue and reliquary of the saint.
The reliquary contains Valentine’s bodily remains and a plaque informs, “a small vessel tinged with his blood and have deposited them in a wooden case covered with painted paper, well closed, tied with a red silk ribbon”.
Be mindful that on February 14th, the Reliquary is removed from beneath the shrine and is placed before the high altar in the church and venerated at the Masses where there is a ceremony of the Blessing of Rings for couples hoping to be married. Many couples attend the church believing their relationship will be blessed by a visit to the final resting place of the saint who risked so much for young lovers.
Believer or unbeliever, you would have to be a hardened cynic not to be moved by the loving comments made by visitors in notebooks placed beside the saint’s altar. Most commentators sign their surnames and note their country of origin, the visitors are from all over the globe.
Heartfelt petitions are wrote invoking the saint to heal and bless their loved ones and for love, “For Paula and Ben to be in love forever”, “To love one another always like today”, “That she will accept my proposal on St. Valentine’s Day”.
But how did the remains of a Roman St Valentine come to rest in Whitefriar Street in Ireland?