The country’s first Visayan martyr may soon become its second saint after St. Lorenzo Ruiz.
This developed after the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints “unanimously” decided to endorse Blessed Pedro Calungsod’s canonization to Pope Benedict XVI.
It’s now up to the Pope to evaluate the recommendation of the cardinals, particularly the authenticity of a miracle, which is a requirement for the formal declaration of sainthood.
“The (congregation) has no further questions,” said Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson, a key lobbyist for the slain teenage catechist in the lengthy process of sainthood in the Catholic Church.
“Only the Holy Father can declare if there is a miracle (made through Calungsod’s intercession or not). We are hoping that Blessed Pedro Calungsod will become a saint,” said Leyson, who is vice postulator of the cause of Blessed Pedro Calungsod.
Text messages of the advance of Calungsod’s case circulated widely yesterday among devotees, including one in Italian.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma confirmed the report in a text message to CDN.
So did Fr. Mhar Balili, a Cebu diocesan priest who is in Rome studying for a Licentiate in Liturgy in the Pontifico San’t Anselmo.
“It’s been approved by the cardinals but not yet by the pope. The cause (for canonization) has to be forwarded to the pope. We still continue to pray,” said Fr. Balili.
Fr. Leyson likewise said the pope would have the final word and that the decision may come late this year or early next year.
The approval itself would have to be made in a Mass traditionally held in St. Peter’s Square where the pope would issue a document or “bull of canonization” that would recognize Calungsod as worthy of public worship in the entire Catholic Church.
Calungsod’s status was also mentioned in the Facebook fanpage of Cardinal Vidal. It read: “Il VATICANO – afirmativea vota dal tutti cardinali e dal santo padere per la canonizatione del beao Pedro Calungsod. We now have our second Filipino Saint.”
Many devotees look forward to seeing Calungsod, who is held up as a role model for youngsters, canonized and joining fellow Filipino Lorenzo Ruiz among the Church’s pantheon of saints. It took six years before Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, the first Filipino saint, was elevated to sainthood.
Ruiz and 15 companions were beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II on February 18, 1981. He was canonized six years after. Calungsod was beatified last March 5, 2005, in Rome.
Calungsod, a teenager from the Visayas, was among the first to serve on a mission organized by Fr. Diego de San Vitores to the Ladrones Islands, now known as Guam, in the Western Pacific, Marianas, on June 16, 1668.
Trained by the Jesuits, Calungsod mastered catechism and learned how to read, write, and speak in Visayan, Spanish and Chamorro.
Some natives in the island resented the work of missionaries, who faced physical danger in their day-to-day activities.
On April 2, 1672, Pedro and Fr. Diego were speared with a cutlass by two villagers in Tumhon, Guam, for catechizing and baptizing the natives. One of the killers was the father of the baby they baptized against his will.
A Chinese quack doctor named Choco had started rumors that the baptismal water used by the missionaries was poisonous after some sickly infants who were baptized died.
The bodies of Calungsod and the priest were thrown into the sea.
Little is known of Calungosd other than his mention in documents of Fr. De San Vitores, a Spanish priest.
Like beatification, a miracle should be attributed to the intercession of Calungsod for him to be declared a saint. The miracle can only be declared valid by the pope.
Fr. Leyson said accounts of possible miracles attributed to Calungsod were scrutinized by a group of experts including medical doctors.
Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, the postulator for the cause for Calungsod’s sainthood, earlier revealed that he submitted a case to the Vatican about a female patient in a Cebu hospital in 2003 who suffered cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead. The woman returned to life after her family prayed through Calungsod’s intercession.
The cardinal refused to reveal the woman’s name, saying only that she is working in Cebu. The cause for sainthood was passed on to a group of theologians who verified that the possible miracle was made through Calungsod’s intercession.
The group then endorsed it to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The congregation recently voted unanimously and passed on Calungsod’s cause to Pope Benedict XVI.
“Only the Holy Father can declare if there is miracle or not. The three groups that conducted the investigation before him can’t force the Holy Father to canonize Calungsod,” Leyson said.
Leyson said the group of medical experts, theologians and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints helped the Holy Father in deciding on Calungsod’s cause.
He declined to talk about the possible miracles attributed to Calungsod.
“If the process is over, we will talk about it,” Leyson said. Calungsod’s feast day is celebrated every April 2.
Msgr. Arthur Navales, chairman on the Commission on Youth, said Calungsod’s canonization would make a difference among the Cebuano youth.
“This time, our youth needs a role model. It shows that despite the struggles of the youth, you can be blessed and become a saint if you just show your faith,” he said.
Calungsod was declared the Patron Saint of Youth for the Archdiocese of Cebu by Vidal because “his virtues (need to be inculcated) to be the mind and the heart of the youth.”
Navales said the youth needed to be guided back by the teachings and values of the church since they are faced with many temptations brought by the prevalence of social media.
“His experience in Guam may be from a different time and situation but he overcame the challenges and expressed faith, belief and loyalty to the Lord,” he said.
Navales said they will celebrate Calungsod’s beatification through the blessing of the youth center on the side of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Nov. 12.
The two-story building will offer courses like Tourism and Hotel and Restaurant Management and will also house various formation activities.
For his part, Ginatilan Mayor Antonio Singco said he is proud that Blessed Pedro Calungsod will now become a saint.
In a phone interview, Singco said while there is no documentary proof that Calungsod came from their town, he is still proud that he will soon be canonized. “We feel proud. We admit him as the son of the town,” he said.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia welcomed the developments.
“It is truly a distinct honor for Cebu and a great blessing for all Cebuanos,” said Garcia in a text message.
She said it’s best for Cebuanos to honor Calungsod “by keeping the faith and recognize God’s indispensable presence in each of our lives. /With reports from Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus and Dale G. Israel