The opulent interior of St Francis' Church, Gorbals, photographed in 1919. Relics of St Valentine are said to have been kept in a casket housed in a side aisle of the church, from 1868 until 1999.
A Franciscan friars' mission was established in Cumberland Street in 1868, and a temporary chapel built. A much larger Gothic style church, designed by Peter Paul Pugin, was opened in 1881. A French family is said to have given the remains of Saint Valentine, an early Christian martyr from northern Italy, to the Franciscans in 1868. They decided that a suitable home was the new church in the Gorbals. Churches in Terni, near Rome, and in Dublin also claim to hold the remains of Saint Valentine, and there is a story that the bones were divided between the three locations.
It was only when the Franciscans moved with the relics to the Blessed John Duns Scotus Church in Ballater Street in 1999 that the existence of the remains became widely known. Following extensive publicity, Glasgow proclaimed itself City of Love and in February 2002 launched to the City of Love Festival, an event which has been repeated in subsequent years.
Reference: Mitchell Library, 333249
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning