The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel aka Whitefriar Street Church (est. 1826) is perhaps best-known as a special place of pilgrimage for people in love, especially on St. Valentine's Day. On February 14th, hundreds of couples will pass through its doors to have their rings blessed by the patron saint of lovers who rests here in Dublin.
Since 1836, the church has housed the remains of St. Valentine, which were gifted to the Rev. Fr John Spratt (1776-1871) by Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) upon whom this Dubliner had made a great impression.
The inner box of the shrine which contains "the sacred body of Saint Valentinus the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood" has never been opened nor seals broken to disturb his final resting place.
St Valentine's arrival in Dublin had a big impact on the modest chapel Fr John Spratt had founded here just a decade earlier (see news report). It soon became too small to house the growing congregation and had to be expanded in 1840.
It occupies the site of Dublin's first Carmelite Friary – the White Friar's of St. Mary's (founded 1280);
Nothing remains of these original medieval buildings (demolished 1539 during the Reformation);
Of the original chapel that welcomed St Valentine's relics, only the outer wall at Whitefriar Place was retained after expansion.
Due to Fr Spratt’s foresight, the ancient statue of Our Lady of Dublin (the Black Madonna from St Mary's Abbey, which had been desecrated in Reformation times) also finds its resting place in this Carmelite church. It is believed that this statue was the one from which the crown was taken to crown the pretender Lambert Simnel in 1487.
Following the death of Fr Spratt in 1871, interest in the relics waned and Saint Valentine went into storage until a major renovation in the church in the 1950s/60s returned them to prominence.
The altar and shrine, as we see it today, dates back to 1950 when Irene Broe (1923-1992) was commissioned to create the statue.
On St. Valentine's day, the Reliquary is removed from beneath the side-altar and placed before the high altar for veneration. On this day, many couples about to be married, attend mass for a special blessing of their wedding rings.
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|Whitefriar St RC Church - a brief history||Ireland||VIEW SOURCE|