Pedro Calungsod (Journey to Canonization)

A lot of messages requesting me to feature some info about Blessed Pedro Calungsod so I did google about him and here are the essential info for people to get to know more about him.
And be inspired to Keep the faith.

Pedro Calungsod

Pedro Calungsod came from the Visayas region of the Philippines. His origin was not that popular but he joined the boy catechists who went with some Spanish Jesuit missionaries from the Philippines, headed by Fr. Diego Luís de San Vitores, S.J., to the Ladrones Islands in the western North Pacific Ocean in 1668 to evangelize the Chamorros. In that century, the Jesuits in the Philippines used to train and employ young boys as competent catechists and versatile assistants in their missions. The Ladrones at that time was part of the old Diocese of Cebu. Pedro worked with Fr. Diego in those islands from June 15, 1668 until April 2, 1672 when they were both killed by two natives on account of the Christian Faith.

He will be called Saint Pedro Calungsod, Lay Catechist and Martyr (in English); San Pedro Calungsod, Katekistang Layko ug Martir (in Cebuano); San Pedro Calungsod, Katekistang Layko at Martir.

The Journey

Overcoming all difficulties, the missionaries left with the ship named “San Diego” from the port of Cavite on August 7, 1667. They sailed first to Acapulco in Mexico to get some provisions for the Mission. They arrived in Acapulco on January 6, 1668 and stayed there until March 23, 1668 when they left for the Ladrones. They reached the island of Guam in the Ladrones on June 15, 1668.

The Mission

Life in the Ladrones was hard. The provisions for the Mission did not arrive regularly; the jungles were too thick to cross; the cliffs were very steep to climb, and the islands were frequently visited by devastating typhoons. Despite the hardships, the missionaries persevered, and the Mission was blessed with many conversions. The first mission residence and church were built in the town of Hagåtña [Agadña; Agaña; Agana] in the island of Guam and was dedicated to theDulce Nombre de Maria, the Sweet Name of Mary. Subsequently, the islands were renamed “Marianas” by the missionaries in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the then queen regent of Spain, Maria Ana, who was the benefactress of that Mission.

The Prosecution

A Chinese quack, named Choco, envious of the prestige that the missionaries were gaining among the Chamorros, started to spread the talk that the baptismal water of the missionaries was poisonous. And since some sickly Chamorro infants who were baptized died, many believed the calumniator and eventually apostatized. The evil campaign of Choco was readily supported by the Macanjas who were superstitious local herbal medicine men, and by the Urritaos, the young native men who were given into some immoral practices. These, along with the apostates, began to persecute the missionaries, many of whom were killed.

The Martyrdom

The most unforgettable assault happened on April 2, 1672, the Saturday just before the Passion Sunday of that year. At around seven o’clock in the morning, Pedro – by then already about seventeen years old, as can be gleaned from the written testimonies of his companion missionaries – and the superior of the Mission, Padre Diego, came to the village of Tomhom [Tumhon; Tumon], in Guam. There, they were told that a baby girl was recently born in the village; so they went to ask the child’s father, named Matapang, to bring out the infant for baptism. Matapang was a Christian and a friend of the missionaries, but having apostatized, he angrily refused to have his baby christened. To give Matapang some time to cool down, Padre Diego and Pedro gathered the children and some adults of the village at the nearby shore and started chanting with them the truths of the Catholic Faith. They invited Matapang to join them. Matapang shouted back that he was angry with God and was already fed up with the Christian teachings. Determined to kill the missionaries, Matapang went away and tried to enlist in his cause another villager, named Hirao, who was not a Christian. At first, Hirao refused, mindful of the kindness of the missionaries towards the natives; but, when Matapang branded him a coward, he got piqued and so he consented. During that brief absence of Matapang from his hut, Padre Diego and Pedro took the chance of baptizing the infant with the consent of the Christian mother.

The Death:

When Matapang learned of the baptism, he became even more furious. He violently hurled spears first at Pedro. The lad skirted the darting spears with remarkable dexterity. Witnesses said that Pedro had all the chances to escape because he was very agile, but he did not want to leave Padre Diego alone. Those who personally knew Pedro believed that he would have defeated his fierce aggressors and would have freed both himself and Padre Diego if only he had some weapon because he was a valiant boy; but Padre Diego never allowed his companions to carry arms because they were missionaries of peace. Finally, Pedro got hit by a spear at the chest and he fell to the ground. Hirao immediately charged towards him and finished him off with a blow of a cutlass on the head. Padre Diego could not do anything except to raise a crucifix and give Pedro the final sacramental absolution. After that, the assassins also killed Padre Diego. Matapang took the crucifix of Padre Diego and pounded it with a stone while blaspheming God. Both assassins denuded the bodies of Pedro and Padre Diego, dragged them to the edge of the shore, tied large stones to their feet, brought them on a proa to sea and threw them into the deep. Those remains of the martyrs were never to be found again.

The Memory
When the fellow missionaries of Pedro learned of his death, they exclaimed, “Fortunate youth! How well rewarded his four years of persevering service to God in the difficult Mission are; he has become the precursor of our superior, Padre Diego, in Heaven!” They remembered Pedro to be a boy with a very good disposition, a virtuous catechist, a faithful assistant, a good Catholic whose perseverance in the Faith even to the point of martyrdom proved him to be a good soldier of Christ. We may lament the “failure” of the companions and contemporaries of Pedro in indicating his place of origin in their manuscripts. However, “bissaya” may be just the perfect description of who Pedro was and who he should be to us today. For according to Fr. Ignacio Francisco Alcina, SJ, who worked in the Visayas during the time of Pedro, “bissaya” means “a happy man”, “a man of fine and pleasant disposition”. And this is how Pedro is described by his companions in their accounts of his martyrdom: that he was a lad of “very good disposition”, and that he was a “fortunate [happy] youth” because he lived and died for the Christian Faith. The Mariana Mission continued amid turmoil. Meanwhile, the surviving Jesuit missionaries managed to start the process for the beatification of their Mission superior Padre Diego on January 9, 1673. The Faith that was planted in the Marianas in 1668 did not die with Padre Diego, Pedro and the first missionaries. It remained. It survived. It grew, thanks to the blood of the martyrs and the perseverance of the succeeding missionaries. On September 17, 1902, the Marianas became an Apostolic Prefecture and was separated from the old Diocese of Cebu. On October 14, 1965, Guam became a diocese by the name of “Diocese of Agaña”. On March 8, 1984, Agaña became an archdiocese.

The Beatification
he Archdiocese of Cebu, where Pedro belonged by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, also started to process his beatification cause, inquiring about the authenticity of the documents pertinent to the martyrdom of Pedro and establishing the fact that he gave his life for the Christian Faith and that he was killed on account of the same Faith. The Diocesan process was opened on November 21, 1994 and concluded on December 28, 1994. The Vatican recognized the validity of the diocesan process on March 21, 1997. On June 25, 1998, Pedro’s Positio Super Martyrio was submitted to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. On October 5, 1999, the Vatican Historians gave a unanimous affirmative vote on the authenticity of the historical documents about Pedro while the Vatican Theologians gave a unanimous affirmative vote on the authenticity of the martyrdom of Pedro on January 4, 2000. Immediately, on January 11, 2000, Vatican Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops gave a unanimous affirmative vote for the beatification of Pedro. On January 27, 2000, Pope John Paul II promulgated the Decree on the Martyrdom of Pedro. The beatification endeavor was rewarded when, on 5 March 2000, Pedro Calungsod was beatified by Pope John Paul II at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. In his homily during the beatification, Pope John Paul said, “From his childhood, Pedro Calungsod declared himself unwaveringly for Christ and responded generously to his call. Young people today can draw encouragement and strength from the example of Pedro, whose love of Jesus inspired him to devote his teenage years to teaching the faith as a lay catechist. Leaving family and friends behind, Pedro willingly accepted the challenge put to him by Fr. Diego Luís de San Vitores to join him on the Mission to the Chamorros. In a spirit of faith, marked by strong Eucharistic and Marian devotion, Pedro undertook the demanding work asked of him and bravely faced the many obstacles and difficulties he met. In the face of imminent danger, Pedro would not forsake Fr. Diego but, as a ‘good soldier of Christ’, preferred to die at the missionary’s side. Today, Blessed Pedro Calungsod intercedes for the young, in particular those of his native Philippines, and he challenges them. Young friends, do not hesitate to follow the example of Pedro, who ‘pleased God and was loved by him’ and who, having come to perfection in so short a time, lived a full life.”

The feast day

The feast of Blessed Pedro is celebrated every April 2, the anniversary of his martyrdom and it will remain as is after the canonization. If the date falls within Holy Week or Easter Week, the feast is observed on the Saturday before Passion Sunday. If the date falls on a Sunday of Lent or on a Sunday of Easter, the feast is observed on April 1.

The weekly devotion

The weekly devotion to Blessed Pedro is observed every Saturday because of its significance in his life: he set foot in Guam to begin his mission on Saturday June 16, 1668 and ended his mission with his martyrdom on Saturday April 2, 1672.

The Miracle

After the beatification of Pedro Calungsod on March 5, 2000, many different divine favors were reported by people who asked for his intercessory aid. Choosing a major miracle from among these favors was not an easy task. There had to be sufficient objective documentation. Such a criterion was met in a medical case that happened on March 26, 2003 at a hospital in Cebu City. The supernatural occurrence was reported by the doctor himself who was the one who invoked Blessed Pedro. The presumed miracle is about the rapid recovery of a 49-year-old patient from Glasgow Coma Scale score 3 and the absence of motor and sensory deficits thereof.

On March 26, knowing that the patient could die any moment, the attending physician, who is an internist and cardiologist at the same time, invoked the aid of the Visayan teenage martyr saying, “Blessed Pedro Calungsod, please save the life of this patient! Perform a miracle!” At 2:00 PM of the same day, the patient was subjected to an electroencephalogram (EEG), a test that measures and records brain waves representing electrical activity in the brain. It was done to find out if the patient in coma was brain dead or not. The EEG result was bad. Nevertheless, at around 6:00 PM, just four hours after the EEG test, the patient started to gain consciousness. In his testimony, the attending physician said, “It was rather a rapid recovery. Patients in such a situation would normally recover only after some weeks, if they ever recover; but, in the case of this patient, it was in less than 48 hours. It was a definitive recovery from Glasgow Coma score 3 to normal mental status and no motor and sensory deficits upon discharge. The patient survived and is still alive today.”

The Verification

Finding out that there could have been a supernatural occurrence, the attending physician reported the case to the postulator of the Cause for the Canonization of Blessed Pedro in Cebu. Subsequently, an Archdiocesan Canonical Process which involved physicians was instituted in Cebu to verify the presumed supernatural occurrence. The Process went through nine sessions from December 15, 2004 until June 6, 2005. Its positive result was presented to the Vatican which in turn recognized the validity of the Process on November 25, 2005. The Positio Super Miro which is a systematic presentation of documents and arguments on the presumed miracle was then prepared and submitted to the Vatican on May 18, 2006. During the following years, the Vatican made a series of clarifications to which the postulator in Cebu also made precise and exhaustive responses. Six Vatican consultor physicians had to gather three times to discuss and clarify some details of the reported case, first on May 29, 2008, then, on September 30, 2010, and finally on March 24, 2011 when they unanimously pronounced that the reported case was beyond natural or scientific explanation. On July 2, 2011, six Vatican consultor theologians authenticated that the supernatural healing was due solely to the intercession of Blessed Pedro. Then, on the following October 11, fifteen Vatican consultors, among which were 7 cardinals, 5 archbishops and 3 bishops, unanimously affirmed that what the consultor physicians and theologians declared could point to an authentic major miracle and that it is opportune to declare Blessed Pedro a saint. A Decree on the authentic major miracle was then drawn up by the Vatican. On December 19, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI received in audience His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorized the promulgation of the Decree concerning the miracle attributed to Blessed Pedro. By that decree, the Pope has made known to everyone that there is indeed an authentic major miracle performed by God through the intercession of Blessed Pedro. On February 18, during the Ordinary Public Consistory, the Pope received the unanimous vote of all the cardinals for the canonization of Blessed Pedro and indicated October 21, 2012 as the date of the canonization.

The Significance

The “Great War” in Guam, which started on September 11, 1671 (9/11!) between the missionaries and the pagan natives who wanted to stop the mission, ended with the victory of the missionaries, the establishment of peace and the resumption of the mission on October 21, 1671. Blessed Pedro was martyred and his body was thrown into the ocean in 1672 to stop his mission and to erase any trace of him on this earth; but his 340 long years of oblivion will now be ended by his triumphant canonization on October 21, 2012 when the whole Universal Church – including the inhabitants of Guam – will begin to invoke him as a saint.

The portrait
The official portrait of Blessed Pedro is the one painted by Rafael del Casal in 1999 and which is venerated at the main altar of the Cebu Archdiocesan Shrine of Blessed Pedro Calungsod in the Archbishop’s Compound. An enlarged photograph version of it was unveiled at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome during Blessed Pedro’s beatification on March 5, 2000. According to the painter, he made the portrait out of inspiration and that he did not use a model for the work.
The white vesture and the palm branch is the biblical symbol of martyrs. “I saw a huge number of people […] dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. […] These are the people who have been through the great persecution […] they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9, 14). It is also the symbol of victory. “Those who prove victorious will be dressed in white robes.” (Revelation 3:5)
The image of Blessed Pedro may also hold a copy of the catechism because he was a catechist, and rosary beads because of the strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary among the Mariana missionaries.

Petitions to Blessed Pedro Calungsod

We, your fellow citizens of this earth, call upon you: O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may learn to love God and our neighbor, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also be eager to know and defend the truths of our Catholic Faith taught to us by Holy Mother Church, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also strive to faithfully live the faith we have received at Baptism: O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also be zealous to share our Christian Faith to others, O Blessed Pedro help us!

That, like you, we may also be willing to offer our lives and talents in loving service to the Church, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also endeavor to develop our abilities so as to serve our society better, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also be poor in spirit by overcoming our attachment to worldly things and by being generous to others, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also gladly endure the daily trials of life for the love of God, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also be constant in prayer in order not to be overcome by temptation, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also keep our hearts and bodies chaste to be worthy temples of the Holy Spirit, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also be truly sorry for our sins and receive the Sacrament of Confession regularly and frequently, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also learn to forgive those who have hurt us, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also become instruments of God’s peace among people, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also be true to our friends, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also be deeply devoted to Our Blessed Mother Mary, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also love and adore our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also learn to accept and do the will of God our Father, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also be ready to die for our Christian Faith, O Blessed Pedro, help us!

That, like you, we may also become fellow citizens of the Saints in heaven. O Blessed Pedro, help us!

Pray for us, O Blessed Pedro Calungsod, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ!

Let us pray:

Almighty and ever-living God, * you are glorified in your saints. * Graciously hear the prayers we offer * through the intercession of your holy martyr * Blessed Pedro Calungsod. * Guide and protect your pilgrim Church on earth. * Grant your peace to our nation * and to the whole world. * Fill all our families with your grace. * Preserve us in love and unity. * Bless and guide our young people * so that they will not be led astray. * Help them to grow in faith, * hope * and charity. * Convert those whose hearts are far from you. *Comfort the sick and the lonely. * Protect the poor and the oppressed. * Welcome into your Kingdom * our departed brothers and sisters.* We thank you for the graces you have granted us * through the intercession of Blessed Pedro Calungsod. * We hope * that after our mortal bodies will have slept in death, * you will raise us up to new life on the last day as your saints * and join Blessed Pedro * in praising your Name forever in heaven. * Amen.

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