St. Valentine is known as the patron saint of Lovers, and his special day is February 14th.
Actually, there were three St. Valentines who lived during the 3rd Century. Two lived in Italy, and were executed during the reign of Roman Emperor, Claudius Gothieus. The third resided in a Roman province in North Africa.
In 1868, a wealthy French family donated a small wooden box to the Franciscan church. The label read “Corpus Valentini Martyris” or “The body of St. Valentine”.
The church sent the relic to Saint Francis Church in the Gorbals neighbourhood in Glasgow, Scotland, and there it sat for over 900 years in complete anonymity.
In 1909, the relic was moved to St. Joh Duns Scotus Church where it was given a place of honour at the entrance. It is decorated with flowers every year for the feast of St. Valentine, and on this day friars say prayers for lovers.
It is not known which St. Valentines’ remains are held in this wooden box, but the mere presence of the box has always lead to Glasgow being labeled “The City of Lovers”.
Dublin, Ireland has also laid claim to possessing some of the remains of St. Valentine. John Sprat was an Irish Carmelite. He was given some remains by Pope Gregory XVI, which had been uncovered during grave restorations and brought to Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin.
The church is popular with couples who come to pray, while asking God to watch over their lives together. Those who are to be married get a blessing of their rings.
Over in Wales, the Day of Lovers is January 25th. Couples exchange flowers, cards and gifts, but they are honoring a revered woman rather than a Roman monk. This is because 25 January is the Day of St. Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers.
Dwynwen lived during the 5th Century, and was the daughter of a South Wales King, Brychan of Brycheiniog. It is said that Dwynwen was the prettiest of his 24 daughters.
Dwynwen means “She who leads a blessed life.” Dwynwen had an arranged marriage to a man she did not love. She fell in love with a Prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father would not relent about the marriage he had arranged.
Dwynwen was so upset she could not marry someone else that she begged God to make her forget Maelon. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an Angel who appeared carrying a sweet potion that would erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.
God also gave Dwynwen three wishes. Her first wish was that Maelon would be thawed out. Her second wish was that God met the hopes and dreams of all true lovers, and her third was that she would never marry.
God granted all three wishes and as a mark of thanks, Dwynwen devoted herself to God’s service for the rest of her life
You can visit Saint Dwynwen’s church on the magical tiny island of Llanddwyn, off the west coast of Anglesey. Llanddwyn is a tidal island that remains attached to the mainland at all but the highest tide.
Happy Dwynwen’s and Valentine’s Day to all you lovers out there!
Alison A. MacRae is a self-taught writer and photographer born in Glasgow, Scotland. While attending secondary school In Yoker, Glasgow. Alison was introduced to the wonderful subject of History and the secrets it held. Throughout her life, she lived in U.A.E. Caribean, Texas and at the age of 17 took permanent residence In Canada. With her passion for writing and photography, Alison’s current residence is Hope Town Quebec. It is the ideal location to photograph wildlife. It is well worth the abundance of patience and stamina it takes to capture the perfect photos, some of which have been seen on National Television, Global National T.V. and the Weather Network.. To her credit Alison has written a Scottish Faerie novel, which she is looking to publish, as well her short story submission won first prize and a place in a book called Homegrown A collection of Gaspesian writings. . You may know Alison’s work from the Celtic Guide Magazine, no longer publishing. Currently, Alison writes for the Celtic Nations Magazine.