Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cebu's First Saint.. San Pedro de Cebu

Cebu rejoices today, February 19, 2012 with the Vatican announcement that Blessed Pedro Calungsod will be officially canonized as a saint on October 21, 2012. He will be known as San Pedro de Cebu.

The story of Pedro Calungsod began sometime in 1654 or 1655. He was born somewhere in the Visayas and was christened Pedro Calungsod. Curiously, at least three towns lay claim as his birthplace – Ginatilan and Tuburan, Cebu and Loboc in Bohol.

When he was a thirteen year old catechist, he met Blessed Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores somewhere in Manila or Cavite in 1668. (Blessed Padre Diego was a martyr beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 6, 1985 as proto-martyr of the Marianas Islands). They became friends and he accompanied the priest in his missionary duties.

On the fateful morning of April 2, 1672 – a day before Passion Sunday, Pedro traveled with Blessed Padre Diego to the village of Tumhon in the island of Guam to recover a runaway servant and perform baptismal rites. “In hatred of the Faith,”, two natives maimed and killed them for being Christians who catechized the Chamorros and for administering the Sacrament of Baptism. Pedro could have fought back and saved themselves from their assailants had he been armed but he dutifully obeyed Padre Diego who prohibited that they be armed. He could have also fled for his life if he wanted to but he chose to stay and stand for his faith to die with Padre Diego. He was only seventeen or eighteen years old when he died a martyr.

Fellow missionaries remembered him as a good and valiant lad who served the Marianas Mission as a zealous, faithful and virtuous catechist and helper. They admired his perseverance in the Christian Faith and Apostolate despite the difficult and dangerous life in the Mission up to the day he was martyred.

He was a buen catolico – a good Catholic; a buen soldado de Cristo – a good soldier of Christ; a buen hijo – a good son; and a vertueux catechiste – a virtuous catechist. He was thus proclaimed a beatus – a saint for the Third Christian Millennium – who can serve as an inspiration to the youth of today, not only for the Philippines, Guam or Marianas Islands where he proclaimed and practiced his faith but also for the whole world.

Recognizing his martyrdom, His Holiness John Paul II beatified him at the St. Peter’s Square on March 5, 2000. That time, he was just a step away from sainthood that many Filipinos want to happen as soon as possible because his life served as a very good example on how to live according to established Christian virtues. Filipinos of today pray for his spirit to come alive to inspire young people to “fill out their lives with faith” and guide them in bearing witness to his faith as the Patron of the Filipino youth.

Now after years of waiting, he will soon be elevated as the first saint of Cebu and the second Filipino Saint next to San Lorenzo de Manila (Lorenzo Ruiz).

The images I included here are from my personal collection that included the stamps, souvenir sheet, official first day covers (the cachets are those shown here) and a signed souvenir program by Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal during the launching of the Pedro Calungsod stamp by the Archdiocese of Cebu and Philpost at Ayala Center Cebu on April 2, 2002. Cebu Stamp Club's John Paul II Celebration Exhibit that will again be shown soon in selected venues also includes these items.

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