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Will the real St Valentine now please stand up..; BONES OF CONTENTION: THREE CHURCHES CLAIM THEY HAVE LOVE ICON'S REMAINS.

LOVE is all around ... well it is when it comes to the patron saint of romance, Saint Valentine.

Not content with resting his bones in Glasgow and Italy, it appears the love icon made it a triangle by leaving his relics in Dublin as well.

Last week, a Glasgow church told how it was about to put on display the remains of the third century saint.

Blessed John Duns Scotus in the Gorbals claimed it was home to the bones of the saint - but conceded another church in Trevi, Italy had "a bit" of St Valentine too.

Now a third church - Whitefriar Street in Dublin - has come forward to claim it too is the final resting place of St Valentine.

Father Frank O'Gara, Carmelite Prior at Whitefriar Street Church, said: "I have had several very annoyed phone calls over the last 24 hours.

"They have been from people who have said we have always professed to have the genuine remains here and suddenly another Valentine turns up elsewhere."

The St Valentine remains in Dublin have been in the possession of the Carmelite "White Friar" Fathers since they were brought back from Rome in 1836.

However, a wooden casket with the claimed remains of the martyr in Glasgow, will be unveiled in a ceremony on February 14 at the Blessed John Duns Scotus church.

Glasgow's relics have been in the city since 1868 when Franciscan Friars were asked by a French family to look after them.

Last night, Father Brian McGrath of Blessed John Duns said: "This is an interesting development.

"We have a substantial amount of bones here, so it might be interesting for us to get together and see if we have, between us, a complete saint.

"After all, it could be that when St Valentine was beheaded that different parts of the body went to different places."

In Dublin, Fr O'Gara said that a famous reforming Carmelite priest called John Spratt had been given the saint's remains as a gift when he went to Rome in 1836. He added that he still had copies of letters from the Vatican that Father Spratt brought home with him then.

He said: "They would prove without doubt that what we have here is authentic."

But he conceded: "It is possible that there are two sets of remains. It would not be unusual for relics to be broken into different sections.

"They say the relic of the true cross was multiplied throughout the world in earlier years.

"Quite a few people who frequent our church are upset because they always thought there was just one reliquery. The tradition of honouring of the saints has never diminished."

He added: "Some people who had a particular affection for St Valentine would be shocked because they considered this was the place where they thought their saint was."

But Father O'Gara said he did not want to "knock" the Glasgow relic, adding: "I would wish them well.

"Not in any way would I feel competed against. This isn't the World Cup after all."
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:McCOLM, EUAN
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 2, 1999
Words:507
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