Friday, February 8, 2013
Friday photo: Valentine's Day in Ireland
As most people probably knew -- and many men dread -- next Thursday is Valentine's Day. (May I help out here to suggest that a romance novel makes a perfect gift, particularly if accompanied by chocolate?)
There are many versions of the Legend of Saint Valentine, but a few things are known. That he was a priest martyred (as in beheaded) on February 14th, 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.
One story I personally like is that 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. Which, of course, is a big tourist destination this time of year because the Irish Tourism Bureau wouldn't be doing its job if it didn't promote Ireland as THE country for lovers!
The shrine is nice enough, but I really love how this castle in County Mayo celebrates Irish lovers!