“Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone”……W.B Yeats….Ah! Not for some….St.Valentine’s Day, February 14th is nearly upon us. Come and stay with us on this special occasion!
St Valentine’s Feast Day falls on 14 February, on which day lovers have customarily exchanged cards and other tokens of affection. It is not clear why Valentine should have been chosen as the patron saint of lovers, but it has been suggested that there may be a connection with the pagan Roman Festival of Lupercalia. During this Festival, which took place in the middle of February, young men and girls chose one another as partners. Legend, no doubt embellished if not entirely fictional, has it that the Roman Valentine resisted an edict of the Emperor forbidding the marriage of young men bound for military service, for which offence he was put to death.
Valentine’s Feast is also linked with the belief that birds are supposed to pair on 14 February, which legend provided the inspiration for Chaucer’s ‘Parliament of Fowls’. The crocus, which starts to bloom in February, is called St Valentine’s Flower. The earliest Valentine letter is found in the fifteenth-century collection of Paston Letters. The general custom of sending tokens on Valentine’s Day developed during the nineteenth century, and in the present century has spread to the east, where it appears to be particularly popular in Japan. The exchange of Valentine cards, flowers, sweets and other gifts has thus become a multi-million dollar international industry. It is estimated that in excess of one billion Valentine cards are sent each year in the United States of America alone.
It may not be widely known outside Ireland that the Carmelite Church in Whitefriar Street in Dublin City claims to hold the remains of St Valentine. The Carmelites first arrived in Ireland in 1271, and today there is a community of 17 in the Monastery attached to Whitefriar Street Church. The story of how the remains of St Valentine came to rest in Whitefriar Street is interesting, and involves a famous nineteenth-century Carmelite attached to the Church, Fr John Spratt. Fr Spratt visited Rome in 1835, and apparently largely on the strength of his powers as a preacher, Pope Gregory XVI decided to make his Church a gift of St Valentine’s body, then believed to be in the Cemetery of St Hippolitus in Rome. The remains of Valentine were duly transferred to Whitefriar Street Church in 1836, and since that date have been venerated there, especially around the time of the Saint’s Feast Day.
HAPPY ST. VALENTINE’S DAY TO EVERYONE WHO LOVES TO CELEBRATE THIS WONDERFUL DAY!
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