LivingTravelCarmelite Church on Whitefriar Street

Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street

Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church (officially the church is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel) is one of the most important lesser-known places in Dublin, if only because the relics of Saint Valentine can be found here. Yes, the patron saint of lovers actually resides in the city of Dublin. Or, to be more precise, rest here in peace (comparative).

But there is more to the church than an eye-catching statue, a gilded shrine, and the annual pilgrimage offered on February 14, Valentine’s Day. Especially for the downtown community it serves, one of the less fortunate areas of the Irish capital, served by the Carmelite friars.

Why should you visit Whitefriar Street Church?

First of all, naturally there is the sanctuary of Saint Valentine, patron saint of lovers, the place to be on February 14th. And it really is a part of Dublin that many people have heard of, but not many have actually seen. Nearby is the medieval statue of Our Lady of Dublin, which has had a tumultuous history and is one of the few remaining pieces of medieval Dublin. And last but definitely not least, the richly decorated interior of the church reflected the revival of the Catholic Church in 19th century Ireland.

In amazing splendor.

What you should, however, know …

Whitefriar Street Church is not situated in the most touristy area of Dublin, it is actually quite a sad place for many days. Located on a busy street with no “glamor” around. Even the exterior of the church has more blue collar than anything else.

On the other hand, it’s just a short walk from Dublin Castle or St. Patrick’s Cathedral, so you really have no excuse, right?

What to Expect at Dublin’s Whitefriar Street Church

In one word:

  • The church originally opened in 1827, but was later extended and realigned.
  • The current entrance through the monastery is not original.
  • The splendid interior contrasts with the gloomy exterior.

But this can be easily missed …

Walking towards the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street, one can’t help but notice the changes: coming straight from Temple Bar and past George Street Arcade, most visitors will notice that the shops become smaller and decidedly less modern. Because now you are entering one of the less affluent areas of Dublin’s Southside. It is not a dangerous area, but it is not (yet) gentrified or ready for the tourist trade. It can be a bit gray at times, and on a rainy day it won’t seduce you into staying longer than necessary.

The underlying roots of the area’s working class are one of the main reasons Carmelites are here: Their mission in the inner city offers spiritual and practical support for the diverse community. Since the 19th century.

The interior of the Carmelite church (it opened in 1827, on land once owned by the Cistercian order) is in stark contrast to its gray and gloomy exterior (the splendid portal, of course), it is actually an explosion of color in some places. The Sanctuary of St. Valentine is a good example, with a brightly painted statue and gold metalwork. The relics of Valentine, now one of the Irish saints by adoption, were given to the Carmelites by the Pope to further Irish Catholicism. Instant credibility when importing a saint is not an unheard of practice.

However, the historically most important piece to look out for is Our Lady of Dublin, a 15th-century wooden statue of the Virgin, originally from St Mary’s Abbey. Perhaps even of German origin, but the attribution to Albrecht Dürer himself is very far-fetched.

Essential information about the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street

Address: 56 Aungier Street, Dublin 2
Phone: 01-4758821
More information about the Carmelites in Ireland.

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