Valentine's Day or St. Valentine's Day as it was known when I was growing up in Dublin, Ireland, has become a major industry with cards and gifts being exchanged. For me, it brings back memories of visiting the relics of St. Valentine in Dublin when I was a child.
For teens, it is both exciting and embarrassing as they test out the new world of relationships. For couples in a commited relationship, it is a time to reflect and celebrate the love that brought them together.
For the divorced, it has a mixed message. If you are newly divorced, it can be painful or you may just dismiss the day altogether. If you have ventured into a new relationship, it is a time of excitement and romance.
For me, it brings back memories of going to see the relics of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin when I was a kid. The church is in the heart of the city and on a busy street. The silence inside the church is quite a contrast. Pope Gregory XVI is said to have made a gift of relics of St. Valentine to this Irish Carmelite church in1836 after the visit to Rome of a famous Carmelite priest, Fr John Pratt from Whitefriar Street church.
This St. Valentine, one of two honored on February 14th, was believed to be a priest in Rome who gave aid to imprisoned martyrs. He was put in prison himself for these acts and while in prison is reputed to have restored the jailer's daughter whereupon the jailer converted to christianity.He was later executed around 269 AD and buried in Rome.
The connection to our modern view of Valentine's day is not clear but St. Valentine has been considered the patron saint of affianced couples, against fainting, bee keepers, betrothed couples, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greeting card manufacturers, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers and young people.
Today the church is a place of pilgrimage for those in love but also for those who have failed in love and those seeking love. If you are ever visiting Dublin, do stop by and pay a visit. It is close by St. Stephen's Green and easily accessible.