St. Valentine’s Shoulder Blade – Prague, Czechia - Atlas Obscura

Prague, Czechia

St. Valentine’s Shoulder Blade

Relic hidden in a Prague church basement. 

In 2002, while sorting through the basement at the Church of Saints Paul and Peter in Prague, members of the church stumbled upon several relics, one of which was labeled as the shoulder blade of Saint Valentine. It is believed to have been brought to Prague in the 1300s by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, who lived in Vyšehrad, the castle that houses the church. Saint Valentine’s bone is now on permanent display and celebrated with a mass every February 14th.

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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