The Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Monsignor Gabriel Osu, on Sunday said that Valentine celebration should bring Nigerians closer to God.

Osu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that “Nigerians needed genuine love that would heal the broken hearts and melt the heart of stones so that lasting peace may permeate the whole of humanity’’.

NAN reports that Valentine Day or the feast of Saint Valentine is commemorated on Feb. 14 each year and celebrated in many countries though it remains a working day in most countries.

He said that the church frowned at a situation where people trivialised the importance of the celebration which should be a source of great joy to humanity.

“We believe strongly that a world devoid of true love will be an empty world. In the secular world, Valentine Day is associated with romantic love.

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“The feast of Saint Valentine is an occasion in which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering, confectionary and sending greeting cards.

“These days, unfortunately, valentine day has been turned into a money-making celebration with those in the entertainment and sundry businesses smiling all the way to the bank,’’ he said.

The cleric said that the true essence of Valentine Day should teach us about sacrifice and true love.

“Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day when lovers, married couples, reaffirm their love and genuine affection for one another.

“It is not only for married couples; singles also partake in the celebration by spreading what is called agape love.

“Valentine’s day should teach us about sacrifice like Saint Valentine did by showing and preaching love and as Christ did by laying down his life for us to gain salvation.

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“We must be ready to make meaningful sacrifices in lif; this also applies to marriages, couples must be ready to make the necessary sacrifices for their marriage to work and this comes with lots of responsibilities.

“It comes with lots of ups and downs. It is not easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage,’’ he said.

He said that popular account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against the command of Emperor Claudius the second.

“One of the men who were to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind.

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“He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became a Christian as a result.

“In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stance for Christian marriage.

“The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, from your Valentine.

“For performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.

“Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus,’’ Osu said. (NAN)