There are many versions of the Legend of St Valentine, but a few things are known. That he was a priest martyred (as in beheaded) on 14th February, in either 269 AD or 270 AD by the Roman Emperor Claudius II, also known as Claudius the Cruel. Among Valentine’s crimes was secretly marrying Christian lovers.
Claudius, being a sexist as well as a tyrant, decided that those pesky women were the reason he was having so much trouble getting soldiers for his armies. His reasoning was that men didn’t want to leave their families, wives, or girlfriends to go to war. (Apparently it never occurred to him that they might not be all that willing to die for an emperor they detested.) So his solution was to ban engagements and marriages. An edict Valentine, who had a warm place in his heart for all lovers, ignored.
Many churches claim to be Valentine’s final resting place, including the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street in Dublin. According to the story told there, the Saint’s remains were given to Father John Sprat by Pope Gregory XVI and a shrine still exists there today.
Photo: Ashford Castle, Co Mayo