Ahead of the Feast of Saint Valentine this Thursday, 14 February, Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin and President of Accord Catholic Marriage Care Service CLG, has today blessed engaged couple Ms Emer Duffy from Rathfarnham, Dublin 16 and Mr Killian Casey from Ballyboden, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16 at the Shrine of the holy relics of Saint Valentine in Dublin.

The annual blessing took place in the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Whitefriar Street, in the Archdiocese of Dublin, where the holy relics of Saint Valentine are interred.

The couple met while they were both working for Dell EMC in 2012 but according to Killian, their friendship didn’t blossom until meeting up socially after a Dublin GAA game in Croke Park.  He said, “We soon became strongly emotionally attached and our relationship has grown over the intervening years.  We share many interests in life such as GAA, history, culture, travel and family.”  Killian proposed to Emer at a romantic restaurant in Spain in October 2018 with a ‘promise ring’.” The couple then booked a trip to Dubai in November where they shared some great moments including picking the real engagement ring.” They will be married in 2020 in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin.

Speaking at the blessing, Bishop Nulty said, “This blessing ceremony of an engaged couple at the Shrine of St. Valentine around Valentines Day, organised every year by ACCORD, Catholic Marriage Care Service, is a much-anticipated event. ACCORD have been organising this ceremony since 2008.

“We gather here at the Shrine dedicated to Saint Valentine, a third century Roman saint. It’s one feast day everyone knows, like St. Patrick’s Day on Marcy 17th or St. Stephens Day on December 26th. Everyone knows that February 14th celebrates Saint Valentine.

“Like all Saints that go back as far as Valentine, there is a significant piece of work to decipher the different legends associated with the saint. Was he an arranger of secret marriages? Did he fall in love with his jailer’s daughter? Did he cut out the symbol of the heart in parchment to tell persecuted Christians that God loved them? Did he send a note at the end of his life simply signed “from your Valentine”. What we do know is he is associated with love, and romantic love at that.”

Bishop Nulty continued, “The heart is very much the symbol of love and Valentines Day. It will feature on many a card or gift exchanged in two days time. The heart is at the centre of our work with Accord as we continue supporting and accompanying couples towards a deeper understanding of the gift of sacramental marriage. The love of a married couple is a very special kind of love, a love that is life-giving, permanent and exclusive.

“Emer and Killian met after a match in Croke Park. We don’t need to ask about the match result that day, we see the result today.”

Bishop Nulty went on to recall the words of Pope Francis in the same Croke Park at the WMOF2018 Festival of Families last August when he reminded us of the importance of supporting couples and families. “Our love and care must extend to all”, he said. “Accord are privileged to do that at different stages of a couple’s relationship”, Bishop Nulty said.

He said, “This annual blessing ceremony allows us in Accord to reflect on the valuable contribution marriage and the family offer the wider society. I thank all those who work in Accord – facilitators, counsellors and staff.”

Bishop Nulty concluded by saying, “It’s in all our interests that we support family life. Thank you for that support. Our prayer today at this shrine as couples from all over the world travel to it over the coming days, is that Saint Valentine may ask the Lord to shower all of us with his love, his blessings and his affection.”

Saint Valentine, a priest in ancient Rome, is regarded as the patron saint of couples in love, preparing for marriage and of married life.  According to tradition, Saint Valentine was martyred on 14 February 250 AD.  In 1836 relics that were exhumed from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina, near Rome, were identified as Saint Valentine’s.  These relics were placed in a casket, donated by Pope Gregory XVI, and transported to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin where they continue to be venerated by the faithful to this day.

ENDS