It is hard to beat the romantic gesture of presenting a Claddagh ring as a token of your affections on Saint Valentine’s Day. The heart, hands and crown that feature in this famous Irish ring give meaning to any relationship, regardless of whether a couple have been married for years or yet to go on a first date. Although the Claddagh Ring is widely regarded as the most romantic Irish icon, it is a little-known fact that Saint Valentine can now also be claimed as one of our own.
That’s right, the remains of St. Valentine are to be found in the crypt of a little known church in Dublin. The story of St. Valentine goes back to the Roman rule of Emperor Claudius II. Saint Valentine was a kind-hearted Roman priest who married young lovers against the wishes of Emperor. St Valentine became the patron saint of love because, despite the orders of Claudius II who banned marriage for any of his soldiers to stop them leaving the ranks, Valentine secretly still blessed the marriages of these soldiers. He was caught and beheaded on February 14 around 270 AD. The patron saint’s remains were given to an Irish Priest, Fr John Spratt by Pope Gregory XV as a token of esteem.
On Father Spratts return to Ireland’s capital in 1836, St Valentine’s remains were brought in a procession through the streets of Dublin to Whitefriar Street Church. Large crowds turned out to witness the remains being received by the Archbishop of Dublin.
To honor the patron of love a special side altar and shrine were built to house St Valentine’s remains. People and lovers from all over Ireland come to pay their respects and to pray before him. It is a known fact that many come to pray to the saint to help them find their significant other. The Shrine is also visited throughout the year by couples who come to pray to Valentine and to ask him to watch over them in their lives together.
The black casket which contains St Valentines remains is kept in a niche under the altar which is secured by a gate. On top of the casket is the coat of arms of Pope Gregory XVI inscribed with the words “This Shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus (Valentine) the Martyr, together with a small vessel said to be tinged with the saints blood.”
If you can’t make it to Dublin for Saint Valentine’s Day, you can still celebrate the occasion in a uniquely Irish way with a Claddagh ring from our store.
In this infographic we explore why the Irish can claim to be the most romantic people in the World.