Sunday, October 21, 2012

ST. PEDRO CALUNGSOD: The Second Filipino Saint

October 21, 2012 is a very significant day for Filipino Catholics around the world.  Today is the canonization of the second Filipino saint, Blessed Pedro Calungsod who from now on will be known as St. Pedro Calungsod. But who is St. Pedro Calungsod?

Name:  Pedro Calungsod (Calonsor in Spanish records)
Date of Birth:  c. 1654
Birthplace:  Visayas region in the Philippines
Died:  April 2, 1672
Feast Day:  April 2

Stained glass image at the Archdiocesan Shrine
of Our Lady of Lourdes, Cebu City, Philippines
Pedro Calungsod was a teenage Filipino sacristan and missionary catechist who died a martyr's death in Guam in 1672.  His place of origin could not be ascertained since there was no record that could point to his exact birthplace. In historical records, he was merely known as "Bisaya" or in English, "Visayan". The Visayans are a Filipino ethnic group living in the Visayas group of islands in the Philippines.  Some of these Visayan islands are Cebu, Leyte, Iloilo and Bohol.  These islands were part of the Diocese of Cebu during the time of Calungsod. One of these islands is believed to be his place of origin. Presently, there are  numerous Calungsod families and individuals who live in Ginatilan, Cebu.

Road to Martyrdom

- On June 16, 1668, Calungsod accompanied the Spanish Jesuit missionaries to the Mariana Islands.  He and Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores went to Guam to catechise its locals, the Chamorros.

In spite of all the difficulties that the missionaries encounter:  irregular arrival of provisions, rough jungles and terrains, and frequent typhoons, they were still able to convert many natives.

Even though the missionaries were loved by the natives, there were still a handful of individuals who hated them.  Choco, a Chinese merchant spread rumors that the water used by the missionaries for baptism was poisonous and was the cause of eventual deaths of some sickly Chamorro babies.

- On April 2, 1672, at the village of Tumon, Guam, the wife of the village chieftain Mata'pang gave birth to a daughter.  Fr. San Vitores and Calungsod wanted to baptize the baby, but Mata'pang who was influenced by Choco strongly opposed the baptism.  He briefly went away to look for Hirao, a villager who was not a Christian.  He recruited Hirao for his plan of killing the priest and Calungsod. Meanwhile, with the consent of Mata'pang's Christian wife, Fr. San Vitores and Calungsod baptized Mata'pang's daughter.

When Mata'pang learned of his daughter's baptism, he was enraged and attacked Fr. San Vitores and Calungsod with spears.  At first, Calungsod was able to dodge the spears, he could have escaped but he did not want to leave Fr. San Vitores.  He was finally hit in the chest and fell to the ground.  Hirao finished him off with a blow to his head with a cutlass.  Fr. San Vitores immediately absolved Calungsod, but afterwards, the assassins killed him too.

Mata'pang took the priest's crucifix, crushed it with a stone while blaspheming God.  Then Mata'pang and Hirao tied large stones to the corpses' feet and brought them out to the sea on their proas (a type of sailing vessel).  They threw the corpses into the deep waters never to be seen again.  According to their fellow missionaries, Calungsod was either 17 or 18 years old when he died.

Road to Sainthood

  • October 6, 1985 - Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores was beatified. On the document of the priest's martyrdom, Pedro Calungsod's name was mentioned many times.  This led to the discovery of his life and death on the island.

  • November 21, 1994 - the cause for Calungsod's beatification process was opened when the then Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal asked permission from the Vatican to initiate the cause of Calungsod's beatification and canonization.

  • March 5, 2000 - Pedro Calungsod was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

  • December 19, 2011 - A miracle in 2002 which was attributed to the intercession of Blessed Pedro Calungsod was officially approved by the Vatican and qualified Calungsod for sainthood.

  • Today, October 21, 2012 is the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, the Philippines' second saint.

St. Pedro Calungsod, pray for us, especially the youth!


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