There is rumor circulating among local Catholics in the Philippines, particularly in online groups, that Blessed Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino martyr beatified by the late Blessed Pope John Paul II in March 5, 2000, will soon be canonized as a Saint. If true, Blessed Pedro Calungsod will be the second Filipino to be proclaimed by the Catholic Church as Saint. The First one was of course, St. Lorenzo Ruiz. Both St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Bl. Pedro Calungsod were martyrs for the Catholic Faith. Lorenzo Ruiz's famous lines, "Even if I have a thousand lives more, I will still lay it down for my Faith" marked his loyalty to this faith and God in the midst of torture and oppression while he was an "accidental" missionary in Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz escaped the Philippines together with some missionaries because he was accused of a crime he did not commit. He had to leave incognito, through the help of the missionaries. Lorenzo Ruiz was beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II during his first visit to the Philippines. He was canonized in Rome. A majority of Filipino Catholics know San Lorenzo Ruiz but not many are familiar with Bl. Pedro Calungsod. In fact, there had been some debates as to his roots, with two provinces claiming for such an honor. According to information, Pedro Calungsod was born in Iloilo City, specifically in Molo, which was then a thriving Chinese district in Iloilo City. His birth date is unknown but he was born supposedly in the year 1654. He later relocated to Cebu City where he was then recruited to be one of the young Catechists. He then became a missionary to Guam and the Marianas Islands together with Father Diego Luis de San Vitores who was beatified on October 6, 1985. According to details, a Chinese man named Choco, envious of the prestige that the missionaries were gaining among the Chamorros, started to spread the rumours that the baptismal water of the missionaries was poisonous. Since some sickly Chamorro infants who were baptized died, many believed him and eventually apostatized. Choco was readily supported by the Macanjas (medicine men) and the Urritaos (male youths) who, along with the apostates, began persecuting the missionaries.
An assault took place on 2 April 1672, the Sunday just before the Passion Sunday of that year. At around seven o’clock in the morning, Pedro then about 17 years old and the superior of the mission, Padre Diego, came to the village of Tumon, in the Island of 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 Hurao, to bring out the infant for baptism. Hurao was a non-Christian missionary, but having apostatized, angrily refused to have his baby baptized. When the father went away to the next village to apparently seek help from other men to kill Pedro and Father Diego, the two secretly baptized the baby after the Christian mother gave her consent. When the father learned this upon his return, he became very angry. He violently hurled spears first at Pedro, who was able to dodge. The 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. Finally, Pedro got hit by a spear at the chest and he fell to the ground. Hurao immediately charged towards him and finished him off with a blow of a cutlass on the head. Padre Diego gave Pedro the sacramental absolution. After that, the assassins also killed Padre Diego.
During his beatification, Pope John Paul II 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 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"
Other than Pedro Calungsod and San Lorenzo Ruiz, there are a handful of other Filipinos in history who are, as of the moment, being considered as a "beato" or Blessed. They are referred to as "Servants of God", which is actually, in the Catholic Church, the first step into beatification.
Dionisia de Santa Maria Mitas Talangpaz is one of them. She is the co-founder of the Agustinian Recollect Sisters. She was born in Calumpit, Bulacan in 1691.
Most Rev. Alfredo Maria Aranda Obviar, the former Bishop of Lucena, is also declared a Servant of God. He died in Oct. 1, 1978, having founded the Missionary Catechists of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.
Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo is already a Venerable. She was the founder of Beaterio de la Compañía de Jesús, now known as Congregation of the Sisters of the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM), the first Filipino congregation for religious women in the Philippines. In a decree dated July 6, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the findings of the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and declared that “the Servant of God, Ignacia, foundress of the Religious of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is found to possess to a heroic degree the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity toward God and neighbor, as well as the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude.”
Hopefully, more Filipino saints will be declared. These saints are our role models, our heroes in the faith, whose almost perfect emulation of Christian virtues and values bring us to the way, teaching us how as ordinary persons we can fulfill our calling to be saints as well.
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