Aug 21, 2009, 6:23 AM
Speaking at the event, Augustina Ugbana said St. Valentine is (A priest in Roman Catholic Church) who had real love for God and mankind and gave from his heart all he had to assist the poor, needy, widows and widowers, orphans and vulnerable children in the Roman Empire.
She said he also encouraged the rich in his time to assist the less privileged in their communities.
He is patron of lovers (married couples) because he encouraged true love of marriage by discouraging sex before marriage or fornication therefore secretly was marrying young people who wanted to get married despite the Emperor Claudius 11 ban on marriage in 200 A.D in his empire believing that unmarried young men make better army.
She said St. Valentine was arrested because of this and was jailed by the Emperor.
He was later released because he healed blind Julia the daughter of his jailer as he prayed for her in Jesus name.
Valentine was a lover of children and children missed him and wrote messages of affection to him. They threw notes through the bars of his cells. He continued wedding people, and as a result he was rearrested and was executed on 14 February 269 A.D.
He was canonized as a Saint by Pope Gelasius and in the year 495 A.D the Pope also named 14th February, Valentine’s Day after him.
She said Valentine is not and can never be a social nor worldly idea or event as people assume it to be.
Many say it is world lovers day; yes, because it is a day dedicated by the Catholic church as a feast day for all married couples to remember their patron saint who encouraged them to get married rather than living together without being wedded, a status which is forbidden by God.
This day has been totally misinterpreted in the society that our young ones, especially the female gender, suffer most of the consequences of its negative effects such as sexual abuse and exploitation during these great celebrations.
She said Most of the youths freely celebrate this day by looking out for some to be their Val (as they term it). This often leads to quarrelling and fights.
She said many students save the hard-earned income of their parents given to them for lunch just to buy Valentine cards and gifts for their opposite sex youths.
She added that many use this medium to deceive their parents with non-genuine excuses to find a way out of the house on Valentine’s Day to engage in illicit sexual acts or parties that are detrimental to their lives and future.
She called on all to stand up against this misconception and work together to correct it. Majority of the youths celebrate it without knowing the origin and the true meaning of it and how best to celebrate the day.
Valentine means celebrating true love of God; therefore, celebrate Valentine everyday by continually showing the true love of God to the people around you, especially the rejected, the lonely, and the sick at home or in the hospital, the widows, the prisoners, the orphans, vulnerable children and every other child around you.
She urged them to visit some of these individuals and institutions and present gifts of true love of God to them.
“Pray with them and give some words of hope to them. Your smile and presence can make a positive change in their lives. A cup of water, a plate of food, a can of juice will go a long way,” she said, adding that youths and the unmarried adults should avoid indiscriminate sexual abuse and activities (fornication and romance), for sex is meant only for the married.
Do not fall a victim of sexual exploitation or engage in acts that could ruin your future. Married couples should renew and strengthen their love on such a great day.
She added: “Advise anyone who does not understand this celebration and let parents teach their children to love and fear God.”
Mariama Drammeh, a beneficiary from GOVI, said they had learnt that Valentine is beyond what they thought and would share all they had learnt with those who could not attend the march.
She thanked Augustina and her team for the food items given to them.