Six years ago today, Pedro Calungsod was declared as one of seven new saints by then Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square.
This Visayan teenager sprang steadily from obscurity to universal acclaim to become the second Filipino saint.
Having been buried from the memory of his contemporaries for more than three hundred years, he came back to life as a historical figure worth emulating. He is a proof that goodness never dies.
Back then, church bells pealed across the Philippines to welcome his sainthood.
While a big delegation from the country headed by Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal witnessed personally the solemn proceeding at Rome, millions of other faithful from all walks of life felt joy and pride as they followed the events in television or in big screen set up in many churches.
In naming this young missionary a saint, the Church would like to bring back the memory of his supreme sacrifice in defense of his faith and make him a model for youth.
Pedro Calungsod was one of the many boy-catechists who went with Spanish Jesuit missionaries to the Ladrones Islands now renamed “Marianas” in 1668 to evangelize the Chamorros.
Having received basic education from Jesuit boarding school mastering in catechesis and learning the Spanish language probably in Parian Area, he also acquired practical skills in drawing, singing, acting and carpentry since these were necessary in mission work.
Though life in the Ladrones was hard, the missionaries were blest with many conversions.
Soon however, their efforts were hindered by smear campaigns masterminded by Choco, an envious Chinese merchant who spread lies that the baptismal water was poisonous.
Driven by superstition, some furious natives began a spate of killings which reached its peak by plotting the killing of Jesuit priest Fr. Diego San Vitores and his companion Pedro. Both were slain by two natives on April 2, 1672.
St. Pedro Calungsod continues to be a relevant figure for our young people today as we continue to see them as the future both of church and society.
Statistics shows that only 37% of Catholics attend weekly church services.
There is a growing number of youth who disaffiliate themselves from the faith and the trend of young couples not getting married in church is up.
Pope Francis has called for a Synod on Youth at the Vatican in order for the Church to be closer to them.
The National Youth Day is set to be held in Cebu next year as part of the activities of 2019 Year of Youth.
The virtues of St. Pedro can still inspire our young people in hanging on to faith, developing the spirit of fortitude and growing in joyful service.
Learning from Jesus, the real measure of greatness is serving others.
As the line of a song goes, “it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
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