5. The relics of Saint Valentine at Whitefriar Street Church
The Irish Carmelite John Spratt gave such rousing sermons during his 1835 visit to Rome that an impressed Pope Gregory XVI decided to give him the remains of the Roman martyr Valentinius, popularly known as Saint Valentine. The officiate of illegal Christian marriages during one of the bloodiest reigns of the Roman Empire was beheaded around the year 270, and when the reliquary containing his remains (including a small vial tinged with his blood) made it to Dublin in 1836, his head was not included.
The unorthodox souvenir found a place in the gorgeous Whitefriar Street Church, but it wasn’t until the 1950s or ’60s that the remains were displayed prominently. A shrine was built to house them for public veneration, with the inevitable guestbook included. It might not be the most romantic place to visit to celebrate love, or the most uplifting story, but couples still journey here to pray before the saint every February 14th.
Also check out our past coverage of Catacombs Around the World and The Capucin Crypt: A Monument of Human Bones and Corpses in Rome. Get in touch with the author @laraelmayan.