CEBU CITY -- Roman Catholic leaders in Cebu and Metro Manila launched on Saturday the celebration of “100 days of grace” until the country’s second saint, Blessed Pedro Calungsod, is officially recognized.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma led the launch at the Fuente Osmeña in Cebu City of the countdown to October 21, when Calungsod will be canonized with six other blessed persons by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.
“In Manila, a similar activity was launched by Manila Archbishop Antonio Luis Tagle with former Ambassador (to Vatican City) Henrietta de Villa and others, who launched the countdown during the first Catholic Social Media Summit in Marikina City,” said Archbishop Palma.
In Fuente Osmeña, hundreds gathered, including university students, members of church-based organizations, catechists, priests, and religious congregations.
The Parian Youth presented a dance-drama presentation on the life of the Visayan martyr, choreographed by Val and Ofelia Sandiego of the Sandiego Dance Troupe.
By 5 p.m., Archbishop Palma led the countdown, followed by fireworks, applause, and the waving of small red flags.
A large LED screen showed photos and names of saints, including the future “San Pedro Calungsod.”
“These are days of grace and favor for the whole Cebuano community; indeed, for the whole country,” said Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal in his homily during the mass celebrated at the Basilica del Sto. Niño.
“Another Filipino is raised to the honor of the altar, a new intercessor is given us, a new model to emulate, a new name to invoke in heaven,” he added.
Cardinal Vidal said Calungsod was unknown to many for more than 300 years, until the late Archbishop Felixberto Flores of Guam informed him of a young man who had assisted Blessed Diego Luis de Sanvitores.
“The postulator for the cause of Blessed Diego did not include Pedro as a companion martyr because his inclusion might only delay the cause,” the cardinal related.
“As providence would have it, Pedro Calungsod was bound to have his own name invoked in the litany of the saints,” he added.
Calungsod was a teenaged catechist who served at the Jesuit mission in the Marianas from June 1668 until his death on April 2, 1672.
He was known to have quickly adapted to the Chamorro way of life and language so that he was an efficient guide to the priests, particularly Sanvitores.
Pedro was the sole companion of Sanvitores in the early morning of April 2, 1672 in the village of Tomhon, when two natives killed them one after the other.
Calungsod was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012, 25 years after Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized Lorenzo Ruiz, a calligrapher from Binondo, Manila who died for his faith in Nagasaki, Japan.
Cardinal Vidal, in his homily, challenged devotees to go beyond mere celebration of the honor bestowed on a katagilungsod (town mate).
“Should we not instead claim affinity with him in his love for the Lord and his courage to face persecution?” said the 81-year-old prelate.
“And while we relish the prospect of being fellow citizens of one who is in heaven, we must also nurture the hope of becoming a fellow citizen with him in heaven,” he added.
At the end of the mass, Archbishop Palma acknowledged Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, and thanked them for their support for the canonization.
Governor Garcia sat beside Mayor Rama during the mass. With them was Paul Hubahib, City Hall’s consultant on utilities and corporate relations.
The Capitol has expressed an offer of assistance to the Cebu Archdiocese.
But first, Lawyer Marino Martinquilla, provincial legal officer, will study the terms of the financial assistance in order not to violate the constitutional provision on the separation of church and state.
After Calungsod’s canonization on October 21, a thanksgiving mass will be held at the South Road Properties in Cebu City. (With Flornisa M. Gitgano/Sun.Star Cebu)