St. Valentine and Memories of Ireland

Photo Credit (c) 2014 Linda M. Rhinehart Neas

Whitefriar Street Church 

In the heart of Dublin, we found it - 
a sanctuary for saints – 
from Bernadette – patroness of the sick and 
the name Momma had chosen 
but Dad couldn’t spell, thereby 
giving me the nom of popular song – 
to Valentine, patron of sweethearts, 
martyred for Love. 
Wandering through the nooks 
filtered in stained-glass light 
I find my old friends, Anthony, 
patron of all things lost - 
Theresa, the Little Flower, 
gentle soul of small acts of kindness and 
Michael, protector of those who serve – 
police, firefighters, military.
To my surprise, Edith Stein, her portrait painted as Saint Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, 
converted philosopher of loving wisdom, 
meets me beside the smiling statue of 
Blessed Titus Brandsma, a fellow journalist, 
who gave himself joyfully to the workings 
of Freedom and Peace. 
Walking up and down the aisles, 
I feel like I have just met with friends, 
my soul nourished by stories told and remembered 
by relics shared and admired 
by burdens borne and released. 
As the priest prepared for the first afternoon service, 
we noticed how the pews filled 
with those on a late lunch break 
to street people seeking the warmth 
unconditionally given here at this sacred site.
Upon leaving, we see the sign for the coffee shop, 
within the walls of this blessed bethel – 
as holy a place as one can find, 
offering the communion of tea – 
feeding the bodies of those 
who have come to nurture their souls. 
© 2014 Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas


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