Calungsod sainthood seen to spark holiness, faith revival
Pope Benedict XVI canonized the Philippines’ second saint yesterday, giving one of the church’s top honors to the 17th century teenage martyr Pedro Calungsod before a crowd of about 80,000 in St. Peter’s Square.
Cheers went up when the Pope declared Calungsod a saint along with six other “blesseds” from different countries as worthy of veneration by the entire Catholic Church.
Filipinos, especially those from the Visayas and Mindanao, were emotional when Cebu educator Mary Rose Villacastin Maghuyop, recited in fluent Bisaya the “prayers of that faithful” during the canonization Mass.
Maghuyop has two daughters singing in the Mandaue Children and Youth Chorus, who flew to Rome for the historic rites.
Many Filipinos are particularly devoted to Calungsod, who as a teenager went with Spanish Jesuit missionaries to Guam in 1668 to convert the Chamorros people. He was killed when natives resisted.
“May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!” the Pope said in his homily.
Around 5,000 Filipino pilgrims and Rome’s Filipino expat community came out in droves for the canonization, including Marianna Dieza, a 39-year-old housekeeper who said it was a day of pride for all Filipinos.
“We feel very happy and proud,” Dieza said. “We are especially proud because he is so young.”
The Philippines had one of the biggest delegations in St. Peter’s Square.
It may take decades to produce another saint but some Filipino bishops are hopeful that Sant Pedro Calungsod would spark an awareness of the call to holiness and “the age of saints” in the country.
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said Sunday’s canonization would make the path to sainthood easier for other Filipino candidates.
The key to Calungsod’s sainthood, after 30 years in the making, was his martyrdom for the Catholic faith, said Cruz, a canon law expert.
“Calungsod, like San Lorenzo Ruiz, had a very big advantage because of his martyrdom,” said Cruz in an interview.
Thousands of Filipinos at home celebrated Calungsod’s sainthood with Masses, processions, stage plays, religious shows and the launching of postal stamps bearing his image and a map of his journey as a young Catholic missionary to the Pacific islands, where he was killed while spreading his faith.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and Energy Secretary Rene Almendras represented President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in the rites which were particularly important to the Philippines, Asia’s largest predominantly Roman Catholic country.
Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Mercedes Arrastia-Tuason said Calungsod’s canonization would create a “multiplier effect” not only in Rome but also in the Philippines.
Tuason said “it should follow that Catholicism in the Philippines, especially the laity, would receive a great encouragement” from such a significant event.
The canonization was closely followed in the Philippines, with people either watching in live broadcast in covered courts, church grounds and in homes.
Celebrations were more elaborate in Cebu where the young saint is believed to have roots. (See stories on 4 and 6)
Philippine TV networks ran documentaries about Calungsod’s life and sainthood, and the country’s leading newspapers ran stories of his canonization, portraying him as a model for young Filipinos.
The first Filipino saint was St. Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila, who was canonized in 1987.
The Church hierarchy is also pushing for the beatification of Venerable Mother Ignacia Del Espiritu Santo, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Religious of the Virgin Mary.
Malolo Bishop Jose Oliveros said Calungsod’s sainthood would push forward the causes of other Filipino candidates, which have already been forwarded to the Vatican Congregation on the Cause of Saints.
“We hope and pray that this will be the unfolding of the awareness of the call to holiness and the age of saints for our country,” he said. /Reports from AP and Inquirer
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