1. What is the name of the Filipino who is going to be declared a saint on October 21, 2012?
His baptismal name is “Pedro”. He may have taken his name from the saint of the day when he was born, like for example, from Saint Peter the Apostle on June 29. His surname is variedly spelled in the manuscripts of his Spanish companions and contemporaries as “Calonsor”, “Calongsor”, “Calansor” and “Calangsor”. The present version of the surname is “Calungsod”, with the accent falling on the “u” – “Calúngsod”. The surname is of Visayan origin. It comes from the Visayan word “lúngsod” which means “town” or “citizenry”. The affix “Ca-” forms a noun which means “one’s co-[noun]”. Therefore, “Calungsod” means “one’s townmate” or “one’s fellow town citizen”. While today the Visayans normally use the word “katagilúngsod” (the “Ca-” is substituted with “ka-” plus the affix “tagi-” functioning as an indicative of a place of origin) to refer to one’s townmate, the surname remains to be “Calungsod”. The Spaniards may have written the surname according to how they could pronounce it, that is, perhaps with some difficulty in enunciating the “ng” and the terminal “d” – Calonsor – or it may have been the old version of the surname. In that case, the real surname of Pedro is “Calongsor”. Even today, when “lungsod” is inflected, the terminal “d” is alternated with an “r”; for example, “kalungsóran” (towns); “lungsoránon” (town citizen[s]). The same is true with other Visayan words that end in “d”, like for instance: “búkid” (mountain) ® “kabukíran” (mountains); “tubúd” (spring) ® “tuburán” (source, springs); “tíkad” (cultivate) ® “tikáron” (will cultivate; will be cultivated).
2. Who was Pedro Calungsod?
Pedro Calungsod was a teenage native of the Visayas region of the Philippines. Very little is known about him. We do not even know where exactly in the Visayas he came from or who his parents were. He was just one of 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.
3. What are our sources of information about Pedro?
Our sources of information about Pedro are the manuscripts of his companion missionaries and contemporaries that report about the first mission in the Ladrones Islands which were used during the process for the beatification of Fr. Diego. These documents are kept in different archives in Spain, Mexico, France and Rome.
4. Why can we not be certain of Pedro’s exact provenance in the Visayas?
The Visayas is the group of several islands in the central Philippines, the largest of which are Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar. There are no existing pertinent documents, like a baptismal record, that could serve as solid bases for identifying which island the birthplace of Pedro in the Visayas is. The documents written by his companion missionaries simply identify him as an “indio bisaya”, that is, a Visayan native.
5. Would Pedro’s surname help us make an inference about his birthplace in the Visayas?
There are three Visayan languages: Cebuano, which is spoken in Cebu, Bohol, southern Leyte and eastern Negros; Hiligaynon, which is spoken in Panay and western Negros; and Waray which is spoken in Samar and northern Leyte. The term “lungsod” for “town” is Cebuano, while in Hiligaynon it is rendered as “banwa” and in Waray “bongto”. Nevertheless, we cannot surely say that Pedro was a Cebuano since there are Calungsod families in the Visayan islands of Panay and Leyte. At the same time, we cannot verify if the Calungsod families had already migrated to Panay or Leyte during the time of Pedro.
6. Where in the Visayas are the Calungsod families densely found?
The Calungsod families are densely found in the Visayan towns of Ginatilan in Cebu, Hinunangan and Hinundayan in southern Leyte, and in Molo district of Iloilo City in Panay.
7. Could Pedro be from Molo, Panay?
There are Calunsod/Calonsod [sic] families in Molo district of Iloilo City. Basing on the argument of the Cebuano-Visayan origin of the surname “Calungsod”, one may easily conclude that the Calungsod clan cannot have originated in Panay where the language is Hiligaynon. But this does not mean that Pedro Calungsod must not be from there. Who knows, the Calunsod clan may have already migrated there in the 1600’s. Besides, there was a Jesuit residence in Arévalo in Panay where Pedro could have been recruited for the mission. However, on November 30, 1676 – just four years after the martyrdom of Pedro – when his immediate relatives or acquaintances would still be alive, a “Subrogatorial” process for the beatification of Fr. Diego Luís de San Vitores was conducted in Iloilo, Panay. It lasted until the following December 9. We know for a fact that the accounts of the martyrdom of Fr. Diego always carry the name of Pedro who was his lone companion. Nevertheless, during the process in Iloilo, there was no claim whatsoever that Pedro hailed from Panay. It was as if he was totally unknown there at that time. Or was it because the process was for Fr. Diego alone that is why Pedro was totally ignored? That would be strange especially on the part of his family, friends and the parish priest of Arévalo and Vicar Forane of the Province of Oton, Fr. Mateo Cuenca de Escobar, who was among the witnesses of the process.
8. Could Pedro be from Ginatilan, Cebu?
By the fact that his surname is Cebuano, Pedro may well be from Ginatilan, Cebu. Ginatilan was a very remote place in south-western Cebu during the time of Pedro. If he came from there, it is not surprising that his exact provenance in the Visayas was somehow unknown especially to the Jesuits who had no mission station there. But how did a boy from such a remote place come in contact with the Jesuit missionaries when there was no Jesuit mission station in that part of Cebu? The nearest Jesuit mission station was in Tanay in eastern Negros, though just across the channel from Ginatilan. It is interesting to note, however, that the first account we have about Pedro was written twenty-four days after his martyrdom by his companion missionary in Guam, Fr. Francisco Solano, who had worked in Negros since 1665 when Pedro would have been about ten years old. Moreover, on August 8, 1676 – four years after the death of Pedro – a “Rogatorial” process for the beatification of Fr. Diego Luís de San Vitores was opened in Cebu where two Jesuit priests made mention of Pedro: Fr. Jaime Bestart and Fr. Pedro de Casanova who was a companion missionary of Pedro in Guam for three years. Both priests were the only ones in the documentations who made a more specific indication of Pedro’s age by saying that Pedro was only a niño – more or less 16 to 17 years old – when he was martyred. Nevertheless, both witnesses did not explicitly say that Pedro was from Cebu.
9. Could Pedro be from Hinunangan or Hinundayan, Leyte?
During the time of Pedro, Hinunangan and Hinundayan in Leyte were part of the Jesuit mission station of Abuyog. If he were from one of these towns, it may easily be explained why he got in contact with the Jesuits. Leyte was entirely a Jesuit mission territory at that time. It may just be strange why his companion missionaries could not exactly identify which island in the Visayas he came from if indeed he was from the Jesuit mission in Leyte. Meanwhile, the same missionaries identified the exact provenance of their other Visayan companions like Pedro Basijan, saying that he was from Salug [Salong in Negros?] or like Francisco Maunahun, saying that he was from Indan [Hindang in Leyte or Jamindan in Panay?]. Nevertheless, this fact alone cannot make us conclude that Pedro cannot be from Leyte.
10. What is meant by “mission” and “evangelization”?
The term “mission” comes from the Latin word “missio” which means “sending off”, “sending away”. The word “mission” in its modern sense apparently goes back to St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century. By the fourth “vow of the mission”, certain Jesuits were sent to non-Christian lands (or to countries lost to Catholicism during the Protestant Reformation) as agents vested with the authority of the pope to propagate the Catholic faith. Those sent soon came to be called “missionaries” and the places they were sent, “missions”. The task of the missionaries is itself called “mission”. “Evangelization” on the other hand comes from the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον “euanggelion” (εὔ = “good”, ἀγγέλλω = “I bring a message”; the word “angel” [messenger] is of the same root). It originally meant a reward for good news given to the messenger and later "good news", thus, “Gospel” from “good” and “spell” meaning “words” or “speech”. In its precise sense, evangelization is the mission directed to those who do not know Christ. In a wider sense, it is used to describe ordinary pastoral work, while the phrase “new evangelization” designates pastoral outreach to those who no longer practice the Christian faith.
11. How did Pedro become part of the Jesuit Mission in the Ladrones?
It was the strategy of the Jesuits who were evangelizing the Visayas in the 1600’s to train young boys as assistants or catechists to help them in their missions. The training was done in Jesuit-run boarding schools for boys. Pedro may have attended one of the Jesuit boarding schools for boys and thus was among those brought by the Jesuit priest Fr. Diego Luís de San Vitores to start the Mission at the Ladrones Islands together with other Jesuits.
12. Fr. Diego Luís de San Vitores was assigned in Antipolo. How could he have recruited boys from the Visayas?
It is known that Fray Juan Lopez, OP, the bishop of Cebu at that time, manifested his willing support to the Mission organized by Fr. Diego since the Ladrones were then part of the ecclesiastical territory of the Diocese of Cebu. It is possible that the bishop himself may have sent boys from the Visayas to support the Mission. Another possibility is that the Jesuits in the Visayas themselves may have sent the boys to their confrere Fr. Diego.
13. How did the missionaries arrive in the Ladrones?
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.
14. How was life in the Ladrones 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 the Dulce 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.
15. How did the persecution against the missionaries in the Marianas begin?
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.
16. What sustained the perseverance of the missionaries in the Marianas?
The missionaries were able to persevere in the Mariana Mission because of their firm spiritual life. They were fervent in their prayers and sacrifices for the salvation of souls. They were faithful to the daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist. They regularly and frequently received the Sacrament of Confession, thus keeping themselves always at peace with God and always prepared for death. Moreover, they were so devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary as their inspiration and protector.
17. What were the circumstances of the martyrdom of Pedro?
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.
18. What did Padre Diego and Pedro do to show that they were missionaries of peace?
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.
19. What was the response of Matapang to the friendly gesture of Padre Diego and Pedro?
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.
20. How were Padre Diego and Pedro able to baptize the child of Matapang?
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.
21. How did Padre Diego and Pedro die?
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.
22. What did the assassins do to the remains of Padre Diego and Pedro?
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.
23. What did the other Mariana missionaries say about Pedro?
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.
24. What did the other Mariana missionaries do after the death of Padre Diego and Pedro?
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.
25. What is meant by “beatification”?
Beatification is the act by which the Church, through papal decree, permits a specified diocese, region, nation, or religious institute to honor with public cult under the title “Blessed” a Christian person who has died with a reputation for holiness. The cult usually consists of a Mass and Divine Office (liturgical prayers) in the person’s honor. Formal beatification is a positive declaration, following a canonical process, that a person did practice heroic Christian virtue, or suffered a true martyrdom, and after death worked authentic miracles upon being invoked in prayer. Besides witnesses’ testimony to his virtues, evidence of one first-class miracle is required, though this requirement may be waived in the case of a martyr, the martyrdom being itself the miracle. In proclaiming a person “Blessed”, the Pope does not exercise his infallibility but his magisterial authority, for he does not declare definitively that the person is in glory. Beatification, then, does not demand faith yet gives moral certainty of its truth, and to deny it would be temerarious.
26. What became of the beatification process of Padre Diego?
Written testimonies of the missionaries and of the Mariana natives were gathered to document the martyrdom of Padre Diego. Naturally, the documentation could not but mention also his lone companion in martyrdom, the boy from the Visayas, Pedro Calungsod. However, due to the difficult situation at that time and the eventual suppression of the Jesuits in the 18th century, the cause for the beatification of Padre Diego fell into oblivion and, together with it, the memory of Pedro which went hidden for centuries in the long-forgotten manuscripts of his companion missionaries.
27. What happened to the Mariana Mission?
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.
28. What brought the memory of Pedro to our day?
In 1981, when Agaña was preparing for its 20th anniversary as a diocese, the 1673 beatification cause of Padre Diego Luís de San Vitores was rediscovered in the old manuscripts and taken up anew until Padre Diego was finally beatified on October 6, 1985. It was his beatification that brought the memory of Pedro to our day.
29. What were the important moments of the cause for the beatification of Pedro?
The 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.
30. When was Pedro beatified?
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.
31. What did Pope John Paul II say about Pedro?
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.”
32. When is the feast of Blessed Pedro?
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.
33. Why can we not celebrate the feast during Holy Week, Easter Week or on Sundays of Lent or of Easter?
We do not celebrate the feast of Blessed Pedro in Holy Week or Easter Week, or on a Sunday of Lent or of Easter because on these days we have a more important celebration – the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, otherwise known as the Paschal Mystery, which is at the heart of our Christian Faith. Instead, we celebrate the feast of Blessed Pedro on the Saturday before Passion/Palm Sunday because of its significance: Blessed Pedro was martyred on April 2, 1672 which was the Saturday before Passion/Palm Sunday of that year. In the case of April 2 falling on a Sunday of Lent or of Easter, the nearest Saturday is April 1. The proximity or coincidence of the feast of Blessed Pedro with the celebration of the Paschal Mystery helps us to remember that the life, martyrdom, beatification and canonization of Blessed Pedro can find its meaning only in the life, passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In Blessed Pedro, we find a concrete response to the words from the First Letter of John 3:16, “It is by this that we know what love is: that Christ laid down his life for us. We in turn are bound to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
34. What day of the week do we observe the weekly devotion to Blessed Pedro?
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.
35. What is meant by “canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod”?
The Canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod is the solemn act by which the Pope, with definitive sentence, inscribes in the catalogue (canon) of saints Blessed Pedro. By this act, the Pope declares that Blessed Pedro now reigns in eternal glory and decrees that the Universal Church show him the honor due to a saint. Thus, Blessed Pedro will henceforth be addressed as Saint Pedro Calungsod or San Pedro Calungsod. The solemn canonization is an infallible and irrevocable decision of the Pope. “By canonizing some of the faithful, that is, by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors. The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church’s history. Indeed, holiness is the hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and missionary zeal.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church 828.
36. What was required for the canonization process of Blessed Pedro?
For the Pope to decide for the canonization, he needs a divine sign of approval which we call a miracle. A miracle may be defined as an extraordinary religious occurrence that came about through a special and gratuitous intervention of God. It is contemporaneously a sign or a manifestation of a divine message to man and a call to conversion. A miracle is a supernatural occurrence, and so, it cannot be explained naturally or scientifically. A major miracle is required for the canonization.
37. Were there supernatural occurrences upon the invocation of Blessed Pedro’s help?
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.
38. What was the major miracle that God performed through the intercession of 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.
39. What is meant by “coma”?
Coma (from Greek “koma” = deep sleep) is a deep state of unconsciousness in which individuals do not consciously respond to stimuli in their environment. The Glasgow Coma Scale is used to measure the depth of coma based upon observations of eye opening, speech, and movement. When we say that the Glasgow Coma Scale score is 3, it means that the patient is in the deepest level of coma. The patient does not respond with any body movement to pain, does not have any speech, and does not open his eyes.
40. What caused the coma of the patient concerned?
It was caused by hypoxic encephalopathy which means a lack of oxygen supply to the brain (hypo = less + oxia = oxygen; encephalo = brain + pathy = disorder). In turn, the patient’s hypoxic encephalopathy was caused by a cardiac arrest which happened on March 24. The heart stopped pumping blood that carries oxygen to the brain. Three days earlier, on March 21, the patient underwent a heart surgery which was a mitral valve replacement and coronary artery bypass grafting. Both procedures went remarkably well. But, three days later the patient became so restless and had a hard time breathing that led to the cardiac arrest and, eventually, to hypoxic encephalopathy.
41. How serious was the situation of the patient?
Brain cells are extremely sensitive to oxygen deprivation. Some brain cells actually start dying less than five minutes after their oxygen supply disappears. As a result, hypoxic encephalopathy can rapidly cause death or severe brain damage. The longer the patient is unconscious, the higher risk for death or brain death, and the lower chances for a meaningful recovery. Complications of hypoxic encephalopathy include prolonged vegetative state – basic life functions such as breathing, blood pressure, sleep-wake cycle, and eye opening may be preserved, but the patient is not alert and does not respond to his surroundings. Such a patient usually dies within a year, although some may survive longer while having neurological deficits.
42. How was the intercession of Blessed Pedro invoked?
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!”
43. What happened after Blessed Pedro was invoked?
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.”
44. What was done to verify the supernatural incident?
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.
45. What was the process done at the Vatican regarding the reported supernatural occurrence?
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.
46. Is there any significance of the date of the canonization in the life of Blessed Pedro?
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.
47. What is the official title given by the Vatican by which we may call Blessed Pedro when he will have been declared a saint?
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.
48. What is a lay catechist?
A lay person is a baptized member of the people of God who has neither received the Sacrament of Holy Orders nor become a member of a religious order. A catechist is one who engages in the instruction and formation in the Catholic Faith, both for those who are preparing to be baptized and for those who are already baptized but in need of continuing instruction and formation in the Christian life. The catechist uses the catechism which is a summary or manual containing the basics of Christian doctrine. The work of the catechist is called catechesis, a term derived from Ancient Greek: κατηχισμός from kata = "down" + echein = "to sound", literally "to sound down" (into the ears), that is, to indoctrinate. True catechesis is much more than merely instruction about Catholic Christian beliefs, values and practices. It is instruction of others plus a personal sharing of faith by committed Christians so that the entire people of God may be continually converted to a fully Christian life, that is, a life turned away from sinfulness, centered on the risen Jesus and living in hope for the everlasting reign of God.
49. What is a martyr?
The term “martyr” comes from the Greek μάρτυς, mártys, meaning “witness”. The stem of the word is μάρτυρ-, mártyr-. A martyr is somebody who voluntarily suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious. In its original meaning, the word “martyr” was used in the secular sphere as well as in the New Testament of the Bible. The process of bearing witness was not intended to lead to the death of the witness, although it is known from ancient writers (e.g. Josephus) and from the New Testament that witnesses often died for their testimonies. During the early Christian centuries, the term acquired the extended meaning of a believer who is called to witness for their religious belief, and on account of this witness, endures suffering and/or death. The term, in this latter sense, entered the English language as a loanword. The death of a martyr or the value attributed to it is called “martyrdom”. Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. The early Christians who first began to use the term “martyr” in its new sense saw Jesus as the first and greatest martyr, on account of his crucifixion. The early Christians appear to have seen Jesus as the archetypical martyr.
50. Why was Blessed Pedro a good catechist?
There are four main reasons why Blessed Pedro proved to be a good catechist. First, he knew very well at least the basic teachings of the Catholic Faith. As Saint Peter the Apostle admonishes all Christians, “always have your answers ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have.” (1 Peter 3:15). Second, he lived the Faith. “It is by doing something good, and not only by believing, that a man is justified.” (James 2:24). Third, he shared the Faith to others. This is the mandate of Christ to his disciples: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.” (Mark 16:15). Fourth, he died for the Faith. As Jesus says, “Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12) “The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God […] In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die […] but they are in peace.” (Wisdom 3:1-3). Blessed John Paul II himself said in his homily to catechists on December 10, 2000, “Your work, dear catechists and religion teachers, is more necessary than ever and requires on your part constant fidelity to Christ and to the Church. For all the faithful have a right to receive from those who, by office or mandate, are responsible for catechesis and preaching answers that are not subjective, but correspond with the Church's constant Magisterium, with the faith that has always been taught authoritatively by those appointed teachers and lived exemplarily by the saints. […] An intellectual knowledge of Christ and his Gospel is not enough. For believing in him means following him. Therefore we must learn from the Apostles, from the confessors of the faith, from the saints of every age who helped to spread Christ's name and to make it loved by the witness of a life generously and joyously spent for him and for their brethren.” Pope Benedict XVI says that “the secret of a good catechist is to live what you preach. […] Unite the transmission of right doctrine with personal testimony, with the firm commitment to live according to the commandments of the Lord and with the lived experience of being faithful and active members of the Church. This example of life is necessary so that your instruction does not stay in a mere transmission of theoretical knowledge about the mysteries of God, but that it leads to embracing a Christian way of life." (Benedict XVI, To the Bishops of Costa Rica, February 8, 2008)
51. Why is Blessed Pedro a martyr?
Blessed Pedro is a martyr because he gave witness to the Christian faith in word and deed as a teenage lay catechist in the Mariana Mission. He gave his life over to a cruel death because of his faith and the reason why he was killed was because he was a Christian and a catechist.
52. What is the official portrait of Blessed Pedro approved by the Vatican?
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.
53. Why is Blessed Pedro depicted in the portrait wearing white and holding a palm branch?
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)
54. Are there other symbols that may be depicted in the image of Blessed Pedro?
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.
55. Is there a comprehensive manual about Blessed Pedro?
A more detailed account on Blessed Pedro Calungsod is provided in the manual I. Leyson, Pedro Calonsor Bissaya: Prospects of a Teenage Filipino, The Archdiocese of Cebu, 2000.
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.
Sources: Msgr. Ildebrando Jesus Aliño Leyson, sanpedrocalungsod.com