Now that we have sent out all our Valentines Day orders I have a chance to look at the history of this day of love! Since I'm always looking for an Irish connection I went to find out more about St. Valentine and see if any connection exists.
You'll be delighted to hear St. Valentine doesn't disappoint! The remains of this saint are buried in Whitefriar Street church in Dublin. Now I know names can be deceiving but I don't think Valentine is an Irish name so I wanted to discover how he came to find himself in Ireland. But before I answer that I'll give you a brief background to his life and why his feast day has become associated with declarations of love. In the 3rd century AD, Claudius II ruled Rome. He was trying to build an army but found it difficult to round up troops as many men were slow to leave their wives to go into battle.
To overcome this Claudius had the bright idea to ban all engagements and marriages, a tad extreme perhaps! St. Valentine was a priest in Rome at this time and would perform secret wedding ceremonies for couples wishing to get married. Claudius learnt of Valentine's disobedience and ordered to have him jailed and sentenced to death. Valentine was executed on 14th February 269 AD which has become the feast day of this martyr. He was buried in Rome but in 1835 an Irish priest, Fr John Spratt was given permission to exhume St. Valentine's remains. They were to be brought back to Ireland to be buried under Whitefriar Street church.
I'm not quite sure how these things happen, that a priest impresses a Pope so much that he's sent home with a saint's remains. Some make reference to his powers as a preacher and his charm which convinced the Pope to make a gift of St. Valentine's body to Ireland. Regardless of how it happened, the remains of St. Valentine were transferred to Dublin in 1836 where they remain to this day. Many people (especially on 14th February) visit the reliquary to have their wedding rings blessed or perhaps looking to find that special someone! Happy Valentines Day.