Devotion to what could be the first saint of the Archdiocese of Cebu was expected to grow after Church officials here announced a favorable vote from the Vatican for the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, the final step toward sainthood in a process that took at least 20 years.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said members of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Cause of Saints, all cardinals, voted unanimously in favor of canonizing Calungsod.
Calungsod’s exact origin in the Visayas could not be ascertained, but it was the old diocese of Cebu that had jurisdiction over the places where Calungsod was believed to have lived and died. It was also the current Archdiocese of Cebu that worked hard for his sainthood.
Palma confirmed a text message received by Inquirer on Wednesday from Fr. Romeo Barcelona, of the Order of Discalced Augustinians.
“Affirmative votes from the cardinals…for the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod. Please ring all bells,” Barcelona’s message read.
The process to bestow the title Saint on Calungsod started in 1991.
The cardinals’ vote paves the way for Pope Benedict XVI to issue a “bull of canonization.” This officially recognizes Calungsod’s place in the Church’s roster of saints whom Catholics may pray to for help in asking God for favors.
The canonization will make Calungsod the second Filipino to be officially recognized as a saint by the Church after Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, whom Pope John Paul II canonized in 1987.
The cause for sainthood of the teenage Calungsod was introduced by Ricardo Cardinal Vidal when he was Archbishop of Cebu. Vidal retired last year.
Calungsod was martyred in 1672 with Jesuit priest now Saint Diego Luis de San Vitores for converting Guam natives to Catholicism. The two were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000.
Among the conditions set by the Church for sainthood is the attribution of at least two miracles to a candidate.
A miracle had been attributed to Calungsod in 2002. That year, a woman was declared clinically dead after a heart attack. The doctor, who was trying to revive the woman, sought help through prayers to Calungsod and the woman returned to life.
The Vatican, last May, was verifying if the woman’s recovery was miraculous or not, according to Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson, who was helping in the campaign for Calungsod’s sainthood.
Devotees welcomed Calungsod’s impending canonization. The looming canonization “should give us a sense of hope as a nation,” said Carlo Cabatingan, 19.
Cabatingan, who received his first Holy Communion just last year, said he was elated at the relatively short span of time it took for Calungsod to be declared blessed and take a step closer to the final stage of sainthood.
Pablo Muñoz, 37, said he was “filled with joy upon hearing the news.” A member of the Verbum Dei Catholic Missionary Fraternity, Muñoz had acted in skits portraying the life of Calungsod during trips to various Cebu towns.
“Cebuanos finally have a great model showing how giving one’s life for God is intrinsically connected with giving it for our brothers,” he said.