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Sunday, February 14, 1999 Published at 19:18 GMT


St Valentine remembered

The remains of St Valentine?

If St Valentine's day proves nothing else it is that love can thrive in the unlikeliest of places.

Nuala Napier reports: "Relics on display"
And it does not come much more unlikely than a monastery in one of Scotland's most deprived inner city areas.

But friars at the church of Blessed St John Duns Scotus in Glasgow's Gorbals area have held a special Valentine's service on Sunday, putting on display what are thought to be the martyr's bones.

And they are hoping the relics could help make Glasgow Europe's city of love.

[ image: Blessed St John Duns Scotus Church]
Blessed St John Duns Scotus Church
The remains spent more than a century in a side aisle of St Francis' Church, Glasgow and for the last six years they were kept in a wooden casket in a cardboard box, on a wardrobe in a nearby chapel house.

The Franciscan friars were asked in 1868 to look after the remains by a French family who had owned other religious relics.

Father Brian McGrath: Remembering an early martyr
Confusion surrounds exactly who St Valentine was. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, at least three Saint Valentines are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February. One is described as a priest at Rome, another as a Bishop of Interamna (now Terni in Italy) and the other lived and died in Africa.

[ image: Remains were previously kept in a cupboard]
Remains were previously kept in a cupboard
The Bishop of Interamna is most widely accepted as the basis of the modern saint. He was an early Christian martyr who lived in northern Italy in the third century and was put to death on 14 February around 270AD on the orders of emperor Claudius the Second for flouting the ban on Christianity.

Dr Louise Yeoman: 'At least three St Valentines'
The date of his death is thought to have become linked with romance because it sees the first onset of spring and is said to be when birds select their mates.

However, the Scottish claims to his mortal remains do not find favour across the Irish Sea where the remains of St Valentine are said to repose in a casket held at Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin.

The Irish say they were passed on as a gift from Pope Gregory XVI to the respected Dublin Carmelite Father John Spratt.

While there is no way of telling whether the Scottish or Irish bones are the real remains of St Valentine, the Scottish monks hope the confusion will not detract from the true message of the saint's day - that martrydom is the highest form of love.

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