Religion is the cornerstone of faith for most Filipinos as the Philippines remains the third-largest Catholic population in the world with 80 percent of the population identifying themselves as Catholic.
Filipinos gather together in churches where priests preach the Word of God, choirs sing with devotion, and the church itself is adorned with images and mosaics of angels and various saints – a scene held together by a crucified Jesus Christ in the middle of the altar.
Holy Week in the Philippines comes with various traditions, rituals, and practices done by the devotees to commemorate the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ with a vast number trooping to churches for the Visita Iglesia.
The Vatican lists the path to Sainthood as a 4-step process:
- Begins with being called a Servant of God with the initialization of a Cause for Beatification and Canonization.
- Once the person’s Heroic Virtues have been recognized by the Pope, the person becomes a Venerable Servant of God.
- The Venerable Servant of God is declared Blessed in the beatification rite conducted on the authority of the Supreme Pontiff. Blesseds may receive public veneration at the local or regional level, usually restricted to those dioceses or religious institutes closely associated with the person’s life.
- By the Rite of Canonization the Supreme Pontiff elevates a person to the universal veneration of the Church. By canonization the Pope does not make the person a saint. Rather, he declares that the person is with God and is an example of following Christ worthy of imitation by the faithful. A Mass, Divine Office and other acts of veneration, may now be offered throughout the universal Church.
As the prayerful reflects upon the path to sainthood this Holy Week, Good News Pilipinas presents this guide about the Filipino Saints, Blesseds, and Servants of God:
Saint Pedro Calungsod also known as Peter is the second Saint of the Philippines, a Lay Catechist and a Martyr. He was born on July 21, 1654 in the Visayas, Philippines. Pedro Calungsod received basic education at a Jesuit boarding school in Guam, and mastered the Catechism, Spanish language and honed his skills in drawing, painting, singing, acting and carpentry for his missionary work. At the age of 14, he followed a mission group to the Mariana Islands led by the Spanish Jesuits where they converted the Chamorros to the Roman Catholic faith.
On April 2, 1672, Calungsod and Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores went to the village of Tumon, Guam. A Chinese criminal from Manila, named Choco, was exiled in Guam and began spreading rumors about the baptismal water used by missionaries being poisonous. Because of this, the local chief Mata’pang opposed the baptism of infants and faith instruction of the children.
Nevertheless, the missionaries gathered the children and some adults at the nearby shore and proceeded chanting the tenets of the Catholic faith. They invited the local chief, but he shouted back that he was angry with God and was fed up with Christian teachings.
Determined to kill the missionaries, Mata’pang went away and enlisted a pagan named Hirao. While he was away, San Vitores and Calungsod baptized Mata’pang’s baby girl, with the consent of her Christian mother. This made Mata’pang even more furious. He tried to attack Calungsod first with a spear, but he was able to dodge. Pedro Calungsod would have been able to flee, but he did not desert San Vitores. Calungsod could have defeated his attackers with his martial abilities but San Vitores had forbidden his companion to bear arms. A spear pierced Calungsod’s chest and he fell to the ground, then Hirao immediately charged towards him and killed him by breaching a machete to his skull. San Vitores was killed the same way. Their bodies were tied and burdened with a stone and was thrown into the sea.
He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 5, 2000 in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012. Saint Pedro Calungsod is the patron of Filipino youth, altar boys, the Philippines, OFWs, Guam. and the Cebuanos.
April 2 is the Liturgical Feast Day of Saint Pedro Calungsod.
The major shrine to St. Peter Calungsod is the Cebu Archdiocesan Shrine of Saint Pedro Calungsod found in the Archbishop’s Residence Compound, 234 D. Jakosalem St., Cebu City.
With reports from Aurora Quadra Balibay and Aleeyah Jowen Peñafiel
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