“Come live in my heart and pay no rent.” – Samuel Lover
Each country, depending on their culture, has their own customs when it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day. Being Irish, and part of a culture based on history and folklore; we feel we have a special connection to St. Valentine, the Patron Saint of Lovers.
Even though history is a little sketchy and not very exact; it is thought that St. Valentine was a Roman priest who went against the law of the Emperor Claudius, and secretly married young lovers because he could not bear the thought of them living in sin.
He was eventually caught and sentenced to death, and his remains were later handed to the Carmelite Order in Ireland in 1835 by Pope Gregory XVI; where a shrine has been erected to this Patron Saint of love in Whitefriars Street Carmelite Church in Dublin Ireland. In 270 AD (approximately) on the 14th February, he was martyred and subsequently this day is dedicated to Saint Valentine.
Being a hopeless romantic, the history of St. Valentine has in many ways struck a chord for me when it comes to celebrating this special day, which I feel has become too commercialised. In Ireland, the exchange of the Claddagh ring, which is the Irish symbol of friendship, love and loyalty has real meaning on St. Valentine’s day, and is believed to strengthen your relationship.
Many couples and visitors from abroad spend the day in Dublin visiting the Shrine of St. Valentine, and basking in the atmosphere of love, which this ancient symbol elicits. This is usually followed by a romantic dinner and the exchange of cards, with a verse composed by yourself, or a copy of a romantic poem. The fact that the card is hand-made adds a note of sincerity, and gives meaning to the Saint who forfeited his life in order that lovers were protected.
It has been many years since I celebrated St. Valentine’s day in Ireland, however, I take real pleasure in the knowledge that a very special Saint rests in the country I hold so dear to my heart.