CEBU CITY—She had no idea who Blessed Pedro Calungsod was until she benefited from a healing miracle attributed to the intercession of the young Visayan martyr.
The miracle, recorded in March 2003, had since led the woman to start a devotion to the 17th century catechist from Cebu, said Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson, a lead advocate for Calungsod’s sainthood.
Officials of the Archdiocese of Cebu have chosen not to disclose the woman’s name for now out of respect for her privacy.
But her identity will be made public when she accompanies the Philippine delegation to the Vatican for Calungsod’s canonization, now a certainty thanks to a papal decree issued last week.
Leyson described her as a businesswoman in her 50s, not a Cebuana but someone who hails from Eastern Visayas.
The woman knew nothing of Calungsod prior to her astounding recovery within hours after falling into a coma at around 2 p.m. on March 26, 2003, due to insufficient oxygen in the brain, Leyson told the Inquirer on Friday. The coma rated “3” on the Glasgow Coma Scale, meaning she had no verbal or motor response, and could not even open her eyes.
It was actually one of the doctors who prayed to Calungsod for help after the patient suffered complications a day after undergoing heart surgery in a Cebu City hospital, the monsignor recalled.
“Those who were looking at her brain data knew from experience that the woman would die the next day,” Leyson said.
It was at this point of near resignation that the doctor uttered a prayer to Calungsod.
At around 6 p.m., the woman woke up.
According to the doctors, if any recovery was still possible from such a comatose state, it would take weeks and the patient would be reduced to “a vegetable, paralyzed and unable to speak,” Leyson said.
And yet the woman recovered in just four hours and showed no signs of physical impairment whatsoever.
As word spread around the hospital, more doctors and other members of the medical staff rushed to the patient’s room.
‘Who is that?’
One of them wondered whether there had been a misreading of the patient’s brain data, but a check later showed that all measurements were accurate.
“That is the miracle,” Leyson said.
According to Leyson, when the doctor told the patient that she should thank Calungsod for her new lease on life, the woman asked with a puzzled look: “Who is that?”
The grateful woman has since devoted a part of her day saying novena prayers to Calungsod, who was beatified by then Pope John Paul II in 2000, three years before the miracle.
On Monday last week, Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree acknowledging the woman’s healing as a miracle obtained through Calungsod’s intercession.
During the long process of verification, it had to be established that only Calungsod was called out by the woman’s doctor and not any other saint or figure honored by Catholics, Leyson explained.
The monsignor said the Pope would meet with the cardinals in February next year to seek approval on the move to declare Calungsod a saint. Only after this stage can a date for the canonization rites be set, he added.
Lay catechist Calungsod was born in what was then the Diocese of Cebu which covered the Philippine islands of Panay and Mindanao as well as the Pacific island of Guam.
A lay catechist, Calungsod died in Guam while trying to defend his fellow mission worker, Jesuit priest and now Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, when the natives attacked them on April 2, 1672. Calungsod was 17 years old.
Calungsod was struck by a spear and his skull was split with a machete blow. Their bodies were then tied together and thrown into the sea.
On March 5, 2000, Pope John Paul II beatified Calungsod along with 43 other martyrs in ceremonies held at St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The Vatican officially set April 2 as Calungsod’s feast day.
In his homily during the beatification, John Paul called on the youth to emulate Calungsod: “From his childhood, Pedro Calungsod declared himself unwaveringly for Christ and responded generously to his call.”
“Young people today can draw encouragement and strength from the example of Pedro, whose love of Jesus inspired him to devote his teenage years to teaching the faith as a lay catechist,” John Paul said.
In October this year, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said members of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Cause of Saints and all the cardinals had voted unanimously in favor of canonizing Calungsod, who would be the second Filipino saint.
The first Filipino saint, Lorenzo Ruiz, a parish scribe and former altar boy born in Binondo, Manila, was martyred in Japan in 1637. Ruiz was elevated to sainthood in 1987. With a report from Inquirer Research