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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pope canonizes Pedro Calungsod as second Filipino saint

Blessed Pedro Calungsod, a young Roman Catholic missionary who died in Guam more than three centuries ago, officially became the second Filipino saint on Sunday in canonization ceremonies officiated by Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican City.

Calungsod was proclaimed saint with six others during a public consistory, or an assembly of Roman Catholic cardinals, celebrated by the Pope at the St. Peter’s Square.

Vice President Jejomar Binay represented the Philippine government at Calungsod’s canonization rites.

Calungsod was made a saint a year after the Vatican officially recognized a second miracle attributed to him—the healing of a businesswoman from Leyte who fell into a coma in 2003.

Calungsod is the second saint to come from the Philippines, a predominantly Roman Catholic country. More than two decades ago, the Vatican proclaimed Lorenzo Ruiz, a missionary martyred in Japan in 1637, as the first Filipino saint.

The Archdiocese of Cebu explains the act of canonization as “an infallible and irrevocable decision of the Pope.” It signifies that a person “now reigns in eternal glory” and must be accorded honor due to a saint by the entire Roman Catholic Church.

Aside from Calungsod, also proclaimed saints were: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Blessed Maria Anna Cope, Blessed Jacques Berthieu, Blessed Maria Schaeffer, Blessed Giovanni Battista Piamarta, and Blessed Maria del Carmen.

Who is Pedro Calungsod?

Calungsod was a teenage native of the Visayas region who joined Spanish Jesuit missionaries, led by Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores, to a voyage to evangelize natives of the Mariana Islands in 1668.

On April 2, 1672, Calungsod, believed to be 17 years old at that time, went to Tumon village in Guam to aid San Vitores in baptizing a newborn baby.

The infant’s father and the village chief, Mata’pang, supposedly refused to have the sacrament performed based on the belief that the baptismal water was poisonous. The baby’s Christian mother, however, still gave her consent to the missionaries to baptize her child.

Upon learning about the baptism, Mata’pang and another villager named Hirao supposedly assaulted Calungsod and San Vitores. The Filipino martyr was hit by a spear, and ultimately killed by a blow to the head with a sword.

San Vitores was also killed during the encounter. The bodies of the missionaries were supposedly thrown into the sea and were never recovered.

During Calungsod’s beatification ceremonies in 2000, the late Pope John Paul II described the Filipino martyr as a “good soldier of Christ… who intercedes for the young, in particular those of his native Philippines.”

How he became a saint

Calungsod qualified for sainthood last year when the Vatican verified a “major miracle” reported by a doctor from Cebu City who supposedly invoked the Filipino martyr to heal a 49-year-old patient.

The patient, a woman from Leyte who had undergone heart surgery, was reportedly no longer moving, speaking or responding to any stimuli when the physician prayed to Calungsod.

The woman supposedly experienced “rapid recovery” during the next 48 hours after the doctor’s prayer, and is still living.

The patient’s recovery was reported to the Archdiocese of Cebu, which verified the incident as a “supernatural occurrence” in June 2005. The results were then forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Vatican City, which recognized the validity of the process in November 2005.

Calungsod’s feast day will be commemorated every April 2. MalacaƱang has described the Filipino martyr’s sainthood as a source of “great spiritual joy and national pride.” — BM, GMA News

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