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Photo from AFP
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Philippines now has its second saint, a 17th-century teenage martyr seen as a model for the youth and migrant workers, as well as netizens.
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday afternoon, October 21, officially included Pedro Calungsod and 6 others in the canon or list of Catholic saints. Calungsod is the second Filipino saint after Lorenzo Ruiz, who was canonized in 1987.
In his homily, the Pope noted Calungsod's faith despite religious persecution. "Pedro... displayed deep faith and charity, and continued to catechize his many converts, giving witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel. Uppermost was his desire to win souls for Christ, and this made him resolute in accepting martyrdom."
"May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God," the Pope added, addressing a nation known for its migrant workers around the world.
Photo from AFP
When Calungsod was beatified in 2000, the late John Paul II, now a blessed himself, appealed more to the youth in his message on Calungsod.
“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,” John Paul said.
To fight 'isolation'
A missionary who worked with the Jesuits, Calungsod was killed by natives in the Mariana Islands in the 17th century. This was after an envious Chinese merchant accused his group, especially his superior Fr Diego Luis de San Vitores, of poisoning babies through the baptism ritual.
Calungsod is seen as a model for the youth. In an interview with Rappler, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) assistant secretary general Fr Marvin Mejia said netizens can also learn from Calungsod about relating with others. This can help the youth fight the "isolation" increasingly brought about by social media, Mejia added. (Watch more in the video below.)
In another interview, CBCP media director Msgr Pedro Quitorio told Rappler that various youth groups have adopted Calungsod as the “icon of this generation.”
One of these groups is behind the “Barkada ni Pedro” Facebook page, which has over 7,200 “fans” as of posting time.
Quitorio said the youth have been able to “relate” to Calungsod – “somebody who was faithful to something, somebody who would be willing to sacrifice for something.” “This generation, I think, is in search for models, probably because of the dearth of models in this generation, even in politics... even in entertainment,” he explained. (Watch more in the video below.)
“I can forecast, this will still spread,” Quitorio added in Filipino, referring to devotion to Calungsod.
He noted, for example, the huge crowd during last week's send-off for Calungsod's icon, which was flown from Cebu to Rome. Police estimated the crowd at 13,000. Quitorio said the turnout was “spontaneous” given that Church leaders had left for Rome by then.
“It was an outpouring of aspirations, probably sentiments,” he added. “It's not imposed.”
Photo by Ryan Christopher J Sorote
At the Vatican, Vice President Jejomar Binay led Filipinos in witnessing Calungsod's canonization. In a statement on Sunday, Binay said the event fills Catholics with pride, but is also a call to humility.
"Today, in various places around the world, 12-M of our people face daily challenges as they provide for their loved ones at home. I pray that like our first saint, St Lorenzo Ruiz who was martyred as a migrant, the heroism of St Pedro Calungsod will inspire Filipinos working overseas as they face their challenges. I hope that his life will serve as a model not only for our youth but our fellow Filipinos abroad, as their patron saint," Binay said.
In the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino III has declared Sunday a national day of celebration in honor of Calungsod.
Calungsod's canonization took place on World Mission Sunday, an event dedicated to Christian missionaries worldwide. It also happened at the start of the Catholic Church's Year of Faith, which it marks for the first time in 45 years to promote the faith amid rising secularism. – Rappler.com
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Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.