Bishop Denis Nulty, President of Accord Catholic Marriage Care Service CLG, has blessed engaged couple Michelle Connolly and Jonathan Hanley at the Shrine of Saint Valentine in Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin.

Michelle is from Dublin and Jonathan is from Co Roscommon. Michelle works as a primary school teacher and Jonathan is a principal of a primary school in Dublin. The couple met in 2012 while they were both studying a Postgraduate Certificate of Education in Saint Mary’s University, a Catholic institution of higher education in Twickenham, London.

Speaking at today’s Blessing, Bishop Nulty remarked on how many of the symbols associated with Saint Valentine’s Day, notably flowers and chocolates, actually have very little to do with Saint Valentine himself, a priest who lived in the time of the great persecutor Claudius II.

Bishop Nulty said, “Claudius issued an edict prohibiting the marriage of young people, on the basis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married ones, who might fear for their wives or families if they died in battle. Saint Valentine seemed to operate in a very permissive society and people of faith did their very best to encourage the Church’s vision for marriage and relationships. In presenting that vision Valentine secretly married young couples. He was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for preforming these clandestine marriages.”

The relic of Saint Valentine arrived in Dublin in 1836, because of a Carmelite priest Father John Spratt. Bishop Nulty continued, “So what does a reliquary that contains the heart of a Saint say to us in the heart of Dublin this day? It speaks to us of love and the importance of love in a society that can be very cruel and callous.

“This annual blessing ceremony allows us in Accord to reflect on the valuable contribution marriage and the family offer the wider Irish society”, he said.

ENDS