St. Valentine’s Bones, Glasgow – Glasgow, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Glasgow, Scotland

St. Valentine’s Bones, Glasgow

Glasgow’s piece of the patron saint of love. 

In 1868, a wealthy French family made a donation to the the Franciscan church: a small wooden box labeled “Corpus Valentini Martyris,” or ‘the Body of Saint Valentine.’ The church sent the relic to Saint Francis’ Church, in the rundown neighborhood of Gorbals, Glasgow. It sat there in almost complete anonymity for over a century. In 1999, it was moved to the nearby, Blessed St John Duns Scotus, where it has been given a place of honor at the church’s entrance. Every Valentine’s Day, it is decorated with flowers while the friars say prayers for lovers. It has even led Glasgow to label itself the “City of Love.”

Little is really known of the real man (or men) behind the myth. What is known (more or less) is that at least two men by the name of Valentine (Valentinus) were known in Italy and died in the late 3rd century, and a third Valentine was located in North Africa around the same time. The two Italians were buried along Via Flaminia. As a saint, Valentine first gained real notoriety in 496 when Pope Gelasius I made February 14, originally part of the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a feast day dedicated to St. Valentine. The stories of the different men seem to have merged into one over time, with most of the mythology about Valentine being a patron of lovers, helping early Christian couples to marry in secret, only dating to the 14th century and the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer.

Today, there are no less than ten places claiming to house the relics, all around the world, including the Basilica of Santa Maria in Rome, Roquemaure, France, and Dublin, Ireland.

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