Ireland is a beautiful country.
Full of history, sweeping views and folklore; visiting here is truly an enchanting experience.
On my last visit there to celebrate my 30th birthday in March 2015; I fully expected to immerse myself in all of the Irish traditions and culture available. I wanted to learn all of the stories and myths; all of the histories of this country and its people. But even more so, I really wanted some of that good ole Irish luck to rub off, so I could take it away with me after I left.
After researching Dublin in particular; it was clear there was much to do in this tiny metropolis.
But after digging a little further however, I came across a news story about the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, which captivated my attention and ensured its place in my itinerary as a must stop – and made all of the enchanting folklore stories in the Emerald Isle that much more charming.
St.Valentine’s Remains At White Friar Church, Dublin
The story; involved the pilgrimage travelers (and even locals) make in visiting this church; most notably on Valentines Day, because of the prized possession it contains: the remains of St. Valentine, the patron Saint of love. The remains, originating in Rome, were gifted to a well-known Irish preacher named John Spratt, following a visit he made to Italy in the early 1800s. Upon his death, the remains were placed in storage until they were unearthed in the 1950s during renovations; and a shrine was finally constructed to house them for people to visit.
The clear glass casing of the shrine displays a large box, with the remains and a vessel of blood inside; making this shrine one of the most elaborate in the church. This shrine, it is believed by many, offers a blessing or luck to worshipers in their romantic lives, who come here to pray to St. Valentine.
Believing In The True Irish Tales At White Friar Church
Whilst many do not believe such things to be true, a good Irish friend of mine named Emily, once told me a story regarding this very church from many years ago that makes me believe in such power- in a time before social media existed. The Saint in this instance was not St. Valentine, but St.Jude, the patron saint of hope and impossible causes. The story, involved Emily’s frail grandmother taking 3 buses to this church when the family had not heard from the girlfriend of Emily’s brother for a number of weeks; which was concerning as she was traveling alone in another part of the world.
Frustrated, Emily’s grandmother paid Jude a visit, (they were on such good terms that he was known on a first name basis); she looked him square in the eye, and told him what HAD to happen immediately: not one more day could go by without hearing from this girl and knowing she was ok.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, that girl finally managed to call her boyfriend and let them all know she was ok the VERY. NEXT. DAY. This is a true story.
Now, as the ultimate single girl who was turning 30 in Ireland; I wasn’t one to dice with fate and not pay my respects to the Saint of love. I mean, I needed some luck in the romance department after FAR too many years as a singleton…and I was in Dublin. So, why not pay the patron Saint of love a little visit to hopefully bring me some luck?
Especially with stories like Emily’s grandmother and St. Jude in existence: Couples visit White Friar Church to have their unions blessed. On Valentines Day, those set to be married have their wedding rings blessed before they marry for good luck. Singles like me? We visit to ask St. Valentine to help us find our one. Our ‘person’. The person we have been looking for all along.
Praying For Love To St. Valentine
Now, I am not an overly religious person, but I do believe in superstitions and about luck. I honestly do. So, I made my way to the White Friar Street Church the day before my 30th birthday and lit a candle in prayer. I stood before the shrine and looked St. Valentine in the eye (just like Emily’s grandmother did to St. Jude), and said “C’mon already” in the hopes he was listening.
I wish I could say in the year since then, that my romantic fate has changed and I have found everlasting love…unfortunately I haven’t yet.
But I still have hope.
When it does finally happen, and I stop feeling like the last single girl; I may just pay St. Valentine a little visit next time I am in Dublin, offer my thanks and light a candle.
Do I love having to wait? No. But maybe any luck and blessing has been sprinkled on other areas of my life first, and this love thing is the last aspect to happen? Maybe it is all just right around the corner and I just don’t know it? Either way, I do hold onto the belief that it’s out there. I just have to find it. And anytime someone tells me to visit a Saint to put an end to my endless singledom?
I will do it. Every single time.
Because you just never know the luck that may find you. Even if it takes more than a day to actually come true.
You just gotta believe it will eventually.