Throughout the centuries since Valentine received martyrdom there have been various basilicas, churches and monasteries built over the site of his grave. Therefore, over the years, many restorations and reconstructions took place at the site. In the early 1800’s, such work was taking place and the remains of Valentine were discovered along with a small vessel tinged with his blood and some other artifacts.
In 1835 an Irish Carmelite by the name of John Spratt was visiting Rome. Apparently his fame as a preacher had gone before him, no doubt brought by some Jesuits who had been in Dublin. The elite of Rome flocked to hear him and he received many tokens of esteem from the doyens of the Church. One such token came from Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) and were the remains of Saint Valentine.
On November 10th, 1836, the Reliquary containing the remains arrived in Dublin and were brought in solemn procession to Whitefriar Street Church where they were received by Archbishop Murray of Dublin. With the death of Fr. Spratt interest in the relics died away and they went into storage. During a major renovation in the church in the 1950s/60s they were returned to prominence with an altar and shrine being constructed to house them and enable them to be venerated. The statue was carved by Irene Broe and depicts the saint in the red vestments of a martyr and holding a crocus in his hand.
Today, the Shrine is visited throughout the year by couples who come to pray to Valentine and to ask him to watch over them in their lives together. The feast-day of the saint, February 14th, is a very popular one. On the feast-day, the Reliquary is removed from beneath the side-altar and is placed before the high altar in the church and there venerated at the Masses. At the 11.30am and 3.00pm Masses there are special sermons and also a short ceremony for the Blessing of Rings for those about to be married.