Saturday, 17 February 2007

St Valentine's remains on the move after 150 years

This story has taken me a few days to get up, but it's a good one - article by Breda Heffernan in the Irish Indo':

AFTER more than 150 years ensconced in a Dublin church, the relics of St Valentine are on the move . . . to Kildare.
The small black and gold casket, which contains the remains of the martyr and a small vessel tinged with his blood, is to be transported in a limousine from the Carmelite Church in Whitefriar Street to Whiteabbey Carmelite Church in Kildare town this week.
While the journey will be a somewhat nervous one for the relic's custodians, because the items lose their authenticity if the seal is broken, there are no fears of a tiger raid.
"They're valueless monetary-wise. They are only of use to believers. The casket's so heavy that I don't think we need have any fears for it," chuckled Fr Christopher Crowley, prior of the Dublin monastery. The casket will remain on the altar before being transported to Kildare on Friday or Saturday.
The sacred relics arrived in Dublin in 1836 when Pope Gregory XVI, so impressed with the preaching of Irish Carmelite priest Dr John Spratt, offered them as a token of his esteem. But many Dubliners have no idea that the earthly remains of the patron saint of lovers are in their city.
Where locals fear to tread, however,the international media is blazing a trail. "We had an Australian television crew in yesterday. All day we have had people dribbling in. We're really delighted with the level of interest," said Fr Crowley.
"I had one woman who has seven children and 17 grandchildren, who comes in here every week, tell me this week that she never knew the relics were here."
A large number of tourists laid red roses at the foot of the shrine to St Valentine yesterday.
Friends Carl and Joseph from Washington DC were eager to catch a glimpse of the casket. "We were on a city tour and the bus driver told us about it. It's Valentine's Day so we thought we'd better come and have a look," said Carl.
Two popular Masses for blessing of the rings drew crowds of several hundred. They were asked to hold their rings while the priest gave a blessing before sprinkling the congregation with Holy Water.
The Christian priest Valentine rose to prominence during the reign of Emperor Claudius II who, having difficulty recruiting soldiers, outlawed marriage.
St Valentine secretly blessed the marriages of all those who flocked to him. When caught he was beaten and beheaded on February 14 in 269 or 270 AD.

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