10th November 1837
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Did you know that the remains of the patron saint of lovers, St. Valentine, rest in Dublin at Whitefriars Street Church?

In 1836, Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) gave Dublin's Fr John Spratt a reliquary containing the remains of Saint Valentine, as a gift of esteem.

On November 10, 1837, Saint Valentine's reliquary arrived in Dublin (with a letter from Cardinal Odescalchi confirming its authenticity) and was brought in solemn procession to the Whitefriar Street Church where it was received by Archbishop Murray of Dublin.

The following letter to the Dublin Record (via the Sligo Journal, 8 Dec 1837) gives fascinating insights into both the Catholic and Protestant response at the time...

RELIC-WORSHIP - ST. VALENTINE'S DAY 

The Church of Rome, if with no other view than in the ungodly traffic "in the blood of the Saints,’’ has been very busily engaged, since emancipation, with the importation of the dead bodies, mouldering bones, and other relics of her suppositious saints and martyrs. As what the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland are required by their priests to believe and do—at this present clay—and what thousands of them actually believe and practice, with respect to this monstrous and disgusting superstition, the most unexceptionable testimony will found in the following letter, addressed by the Rev. C. M. Fleury the editor of the Dublin Record:— 

To the editor of the Dublin Record

Sir —Some time since, my attention was directed to an account in your paper of a gift made by the present Pope, of the body or sacred relics of St. Valentinus to the Order of Carmelites in this city. Last week, a coarsely printed handbill was circulated about town, stating that the body had arrived, and was deposited in the Carmelite Chapel, in Whitefriarstreet—adding, also, that the Pope had attached plenary indulgence to the repetition of certain prayers in said chapel before the sacred relics.

Yesterday, I visited the chapel—and having passed through the crowd to the altar, to which I was led by one of the numerous attendants in the place, I saw grating fixed underneath the altar, and through this grating, what appeared to be coffin case covered with velvet, fringed with gold lace. There was a group of worshippers prostrate before the grating, whose actions surprised me not little. They continued to push their fingers through the grating, and to rub old gloves and fragments of linen cloth against the velvet covering of the coffin. Having inquired of the guide the meaning of this proceeding, informed me, with great animation, that the people were extracting holy virtues from the blessed saint's body, in order to cure, by those sanctified pieces of cloth, all manner of diseases!

Perfectly disgusted with the whole business, I left the chapel immediately and thought it right to give publicity thus to what I had witnessed. When such an imposition can be fearlessly practised on Roman Catholics of every rank by their Priests, I would ask what may they not be inclined to believe and do by the same masters? When such superstition openly prevails, are we not guilty, in the most awful degree, if we do not use every honest means in our power, by scriptural education and controversial preaching, to deliver our poor fellow-countrymen from such a system of iniquity?

I remain your obedient servant, C.M. Fleury, Dublin, November 1837

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Comments

  • I am no expert but recall reading in the Bible about a woman who suffered from a flow of blood. This woman touched the cloak of Christ and was cured. Christ, it is written, felt power go from himself and he asked "who touched me?". The woman came forward and was told her faith had cured her. So I would ask, is the action of these people an act of faith or as was expresed in the letter C.N. Fleury an act based on superstion ? The truth is probabley best known to the individual and not a judgment to be made by a casual observer. 

    Geoff

    Saturday 13th February 2021, 11:02PM
  • The letter writer (C.M.Fleury) was obviously a Protestant with their biased views of Roman Catholics (as they were called). After all, Protestant Churches only believe in 'Sola Scriptura' and as this type of veneration is not in the Bible, they would therefore ignore it and call it superstitious nonsense. Protestants only have the Bible but Catholics also have tradition as well to fall back on.

    The actions of the faithful are in perfect accord with the Catholic Church's teachings on the veneration of relics and dates back to the early days of the Catholic Church The pieces of cloth touched to the coffin would be regarded by the faithful as holy and to be venerated. After all, we have the Communion of Saints and this is another way of venerating (and praying) to them for assistance.

    I have a third class relic before me. It is a piece of cloth which has touched the sacred tongue of St Anthony of Padua. I include St Anthony in my daily prayers as he is one of my Patron Saints.

    So, to a Catholic it would be normal to want to touch the coffin to obtain a holy object which had touched his coffin.

    The Irish suffered enough under English rule and in 1837 they were still oppressing the Irish Catholics( and my ancestors) and it wouldn't be until 1922 until self rule was in place.

    I might add that I live in Australia and when our only Saint (Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop) was buried in the Gore Hill Cemetery in North Sydney (from 1909 to 1914), her grave was being undermined as the faithful were digging around it for pebbles to take home and venerate. As a result it was then interred in the altar of the Mary MacKillop Chapel at North Sydney, where many people visit each year.

    Richard

    Sydney NSW Australia

    Rechard

    Sunday 14th February 2021, 12:52AM
  • I recommend that everyone take a break and listen to "I touched the hem of his garment" by Sam Cooke.  I guarantee it will help.

    Jack Fallin [Ó Faoláin]

    Monday 15th February 2021, 06:57PM
  • Well Jack, I agree "I touched the hem of his garment" was worth listening to, pity Sam Cooke's life was cut short.

    My parents told me when I was young, words to the effect, "more things come by prayer than this world dreams of" I can asure you all this is true.

    Twenty odd years ago our daughter in a Scout troup were "lost' due to a compass error and over due at their collection point. That night my wife opened the Bible at random, the passage said something like, "I lay them down in green pasture by a stream of clear water". That is exactly where they camped that night. They were picked up in the morning by helicopter and they all said it was the best hike ever!

    Geoff

    Monday 15th February 2021, 11:39PM

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