Does Ireland come to mind when you hear the name St. Valentine? If it doesn’t now, it likely will after you hear this tale.
During the 19th century, Father John Spratt was well known in Ireland. He was not only a notable preacher but also commended for his work with the poor. In addition, he is credited with building a new church to Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Whitefriar Street in Dublin. According to a history from the Carmelites, his notoriety followed him when he was asked to preach in Rome in 1835.
Pope Gregory XVI
During his time there many Romans came to hear him speak, and thus came to revere him. Due in part to this, Father Spratt was the recipient of what some might consider an unusual gift. Pope Gregory XVI presented him with a small vessel tinged with St. Valentine’s blood along with a reliquary that contains some of the remains of his body.
Today, the reliquary and vessel are housed in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin. A life-sized statue of the saint is recessed into an alcove in the wall above the place where the relics are kept. It should also be noted that not all of Saint Valentine’s remains are in this location, hence the claiming of other sites to have his relics.
According to the Carmelites website, today many engaged couples come to mass on this day to receive the a blessing on their rings and to pray to St. Valentine as they begin their lives together.