Sunday, 340 years after giving up his life for God, Pedro Calungsod joins the saints, with Pope Benedict XVI raising him to the altar at canonization rites in Rome.
President Benigno Aquino III has declared Sunday as National Day of Celebration in honor of Pedro Calungsod.
Malacañang calls it a “day of great spiritual joy” for the Filipino nation.
Four thousand Filipino pilgrims, including politicians and government officials, are in Rome to attend the canonization rites and Mass at St. Peter’s Square at 9:30 a.m. (4:30 p.m. Philippine time).
According to the records, Pedro Calungsod, a teenage mission helper from the Visayas, and Fr. Pedro Luis de Sanvitores were killed by villagers in Tumhom, Guam, for converting and baptizing the natives on April 2, 1672.
Aside from Calungsod, six other “blesseds” from different countries will be elevated to sainthood. They are Jacques Berthieu of France, Giovanni Battista Piamarta of Italy, Maria del Carmen of Spain, Anna Schaffer of Germany, and Kateri Tekakwitha and Maria Anna Cope, both from the United States.
“It’s all systems go. Everything is ready,” said Fr. Mhar Balili, chair of the liturgical committee for the Calungsod canonization in Rome, in a long distance interview with the Inquirer on Saturday.
Balili, who is from Cebu but is in Rome studying liturgy, said pilgrims started to flock to the Eternal City even before the start of the Triduum on Thursday.
World Mission Sunday
He said the canonization rites, which falls on World Mission Sunday, would run for about three hours.
“We should all be proud whether we’re Catholic or not because we will now have a second Filipino saint,” said Henrietta de Villa, secretary general of the church commission preparing for Calungsod’s canonization. “This is the reason why President Aquino also declared today National Day of Celebration in honor of Pedro Calungsod.”
“This is a day of great spiritual joy and national pride not only for Filipino Catholics but [also] for all those who call the Philippines their home,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on state-run radio on Saturday.
“In 12 short years, the canonical requirements for his canonization have been fulfilled,” Valte said, referring to the saint-making process followed by the Philippines in trying to have Blessed Pedro Calungsod enrolled in the catalog of saints. “We join the Catholic world on this day of solemn commemoration and celebration,” Valte said.
De Villa said Pope Benedict would bless a statue of St. Pedro Calungsod during the canonization rites. The statue will be returned to the Philippines for a month-long pilgrimage across the country, De Villa said.
The Visayan martyr becomes the second saint from the Philippines after San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, who was canonized by Blessed Pope John Paul II on Oct. 18, 1987.
Pope John Paul beatified Calungsod in 2000.
Calungsod qualified for sainthood last year after the Vatican officially recognized a “miracle” in which a woman in the Philippines, already declared dead from a massive stroke, was revived after a doctor prayed to Calungsod for help.
A delegation of government officials, led by Vice President Jejomar Binay and Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, is joining up with senior clergy from the Catholic Church in the Philippines and other Filipino pilgrims at the rites at St. Peter’s Square.
Binay is representing President Aquino, who is leaving Sunday night for state visits to Australia and New Zealand.
Church sources said former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. was also in Rome for the canonization rites.
Among the politicians on the Philippine delegation is Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, son of former President Joseph Estrada during whose term Calungsod was beatified.
Thirty-five prelates, led by retired Cardinals Ricardo Vidal of Cebu and Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, represent the Philippine Church at the canonization rites.
Among the seven “blesseds” who will be canonized on Sunday, Calungsod is the youngest.
One of the candidates, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was 24 years old when she died. Tekakwitha is the first native American to be canonized.
In Cebu, generally believed to be Calungsod’s origin, a Mass will be held at Blessed Pedro Calungsod Shrine located inside the Archbishop’s Residence compound on D. Jakosalem Street at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
The Mass will be followed by a procession around the vicinity of the Archbishop’s Residence.
A live telecast of the canonization rites will be shown on wide-screen television installed in a covered court near the shrine.
The canonization will also be seen live on television at Mandaue City Cultural and Sports Complex.
In Ginatilan, a town in southwest Cebu that claims to be the hometown of Calungsod, a Mass will be held at St. Gregory the Great Church, to be followed by a barrio fiesta and parlor games.
Church bells will ring to signal the canonization of Calungsod.
Msgr. Esteban Binghay, episcopal vicar of the Archdiocese of Cebu, described Calungsod as one of the young saints of the Catholic Church.
Binghay said Sunday’s rites at St. Peter’s Square would begin with the processional, with Pope Benedict and several cardinals and bishops from different countries making their way to the main altar.
After they kiss the altar, the Pope utters the usual greetings at the beginning of the Mass, said Binghay, a member of the Filipino delegation to the canonization rites.
The canonization begins after the greetings. Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will emerge and bring along the postulators or the vice postulators of the seven candidates for sainthood.
The postulators are the investigators and proponents of sainthood for the Church’s “blesseds.”
In Calungsod’s case, Binghay said, the chief postulator is Fr. Fernando Rojo, O.S.A., who had been tapped by Cardinal Vidal to investigate Calungsod’s cause for sainthood.
The vice postulator is Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson. Cardinal Vidal has been the promoter of Calungsod’s cause for sainthood.
Binghay said postulators or the vice postulators would be presented before the Holy Father.
Amato will then petition the Pope to formally canonize the seven blesseds and include them in the canon of the universal Church so people all over the world can seek their intercession as saints.
Subsequently, Binghay said Amato or the postulators will present a short biography of the seven candidates.
The names of the seven “blesseds” will be invoked and included in the Litany of Saints, which will be sung by the entire congregation.
After the chant, Binghay said, the Pope will declare the seven “blesseds” canonized.
After the applause from the crowd, Binghay said the names of the new saints will be called one after the other.
As their names are called, the veils that cover the huge tapestries on the basilica’s facade will be slowly rolled up, revealing their official portraits.
Binghay, who was present at the beatification of Calungsod on March 5, 2000, said the theme songs of the saints would be sung as their portraits were being uncovered.
He said the Sistine Chapel Choir might sing the “Way Sukod Ang Pagmahal,” one of the compositions of Msgr. Rudolfo Villanueva of Cebu, during the unveiling of St. Pedro Calungsod’s portrait.
Then, the postulators will come forward and bring relics of the new saints to the altar.
Since Calungsod has no relics because his body was thrown in the sea, Binghay said a sand or piece of stone taken from Tomhom, Guam, where the Visayan martyr was killed, may be presented either by the postulator, or the woman healed due to Calungsod’s intercession, or the doctor who prayed to Calungsod for help.
The Mass resumes after the canonization rites.
The canonization rites and Mass will be seen through the Eternal Word Television Network and the Cebu Catholic Television Network. With reports from Philip C. Tubeza, TJ Burgonio and Norman Bordadora in Manila; Jhunnex Napallacan and Carine M. Asutilla, Inquirer Visayas