Beato Pedro Calungsod






Personal Prayer

My Lord,

I am heartily sorry 

For the times I chose not to do
your will, 

for the times you knocked on
my heart and did not let you in,

for the times you poured forth
your gifts and did not
acknowledge your presence; 

Forgive me Lord, 

Embrace me, and let me follow
you, make me open my eyes
and see the beauty, the grace
and the privilege of loving
and serving you; 

May you continuously bless me,

And if I fail and falter, light a
beacon for me, that I may find
my way back to the arms that
eternally welcomes me. 

AMEN.

Back on top

 





The Essential Calungsod

Not much is known about this young martyr's early beginnings, except that he was a lay catechist from the Visayas (a group of islands in the heart of the Philippines) who accompanied the Jesuit missionary Blessed Diego Luis San Vitores in the 17th century in a "special call" to evangelize the Marianas. 

Blessed Pedro Calungsod was at the young age of 14 when he joined the local Jesuit catechists. He was only 18 when martyred together with Blessed San Vitores in Guam by two natives angered by the new faith being proclaimed.

Based on accounts, Blessed Calungsod died while trying to protect the priest from their assassins, however, both suffered the same fate under the spear and axe. Blessed San Vitores was beatified on October 4, 1984, while Blessed Pedro Calungsod on March 5, 2000. 

Back on top

 



A Young Filipino Martyr:
Pedro Calungsod

by Catalino G. Arevalo, S.J.

 

Sometime in the year 2000, Pope John Paul II's "great Year of Jubilee," we will most probably have a new Filipino "blessed." A beatus, one proclaimed by the Church as a Christian who lived a life of "heroic virtue," or who gave his life in martyrdom for his faith, is held up for the veneration of the faithful, usually of a given locality or place.  The candidate for this honor from the Philippines who is next in line is the youth, Pedro Calungsod, who was slain in odium fidei, "in hatred of the faith," on 2 April 1672.

Calungsod was a young man, "joven Bisayo" (as the 17th century documents say), when he was slain by two natives of the island of Guam (then called Guahan), while defending his priest-companion, the Jesuit mission-founder Father Diego Luis de San Vitores. San Vitores was on a mission trip, and he chose (as it seems he often did) this Filipino catechist and factotum to accompany him.  This mission assistant was only 18 in 1672 (or so most biographers of San Vitores believe). He had left the Philippines, it seems, at the age of 13 or 14.  The Jesuit priests, starting a new mission in Guam, had taken 17 Filipinos, many of them teen-aged boys, as catechists, sacristans, bearers of mass-kits and provision-bags on mission journeys.  They were to be all around workers in the mission. They would help construct chapels and temporary residences.  They were live together, in a community, with the priests and the soldiers.  They were considered oblates, people who had given their lives to be mission-assistants, serving without pay, sharing whatever food and lodging the priests had, living devotedly and piously, laboring indefatigably for the cause of the Lord.

The young men had been, in today's language, "minor seminarians." They had been taught Spanish and a little Latin; they were taught how to read and write.  They learned the catechism by heart (they learned it by singing it through!). They mastered a repertoire of religious hymns and learned the rubrics of sacred rites thoroughly.  They knew their tasks well. They were loyal and obedient to the missionary Fathers. They were usually "the brightest and best" among the young men, the most devout, the most faithful.  And also, blessed with good health.  The Jesuits, on recruiting them, had them travel with them to Mexico first, then to the mission territory; they were volunteers (or at least regarded a such).  It is good to note this: Pedro Calungsod was, by fact and in intent, an authentic missionary.

Pedro Calungsod was slain by a native chieftain, Matapang, once a Christian.  The chieftain was helped in this by a non-Christian fiend, Hirao. Matapang plotted to kill the Magas (their name for "the great teacher") because the Jesuit mission-superior had been baptizing the native babies, and only on that morning of 2 April, he had christened Matapang's own recently-born daughter.  Matapang's wife (it seems) had brought her baby for baptism, against her husband's wishes.  Hirao was persuaded by the chieftain to help him kill the priest.

San Vitores and Calungsod were teaching the catechism to children and adults gathered at the beach in Tumhon, a few kilometers away from Aganda (today's Agaņa). Matapang and Hirao armed with spears and machete knives (called catanas, locally), came upon them.  They had to kill the catechist Pedro first.  He was strong and agile. He was brave and loyal to his priest-companion. Several darts and spears were flung at him. One finally struck his chest, Matapang's spear. Hirao ran toward him as he fell, and split his skull with the catana. San Vitores rushed to the dying boy's side.  Seeing Pedro already dying, the two attackers next turned on San Vitores, killing him in exactly the same way they had slain Calungsod.  The Jesuit, trying to the end to dissuade them, also fell at their feet in death, with words of forgiveness.

The slain priest and his companion were then stripped. Their bodies were tied together and a large rock attached to their remains. Then they were brought to the sea, and there dropped, so the waters and the sharks could finish them off.

Thus in the early morning of 2 April 1972, Diego Luis de San Vitores from Burgos, Jesuit son of a Spanish grandee, and his catechist-helper Pedro Calungsod, barrio boy from the Visayas, met death together, slain for the Christian faith.  Their bodies were consigned to the sea together, their fates linked in life and death by their loyalty to Jesus and his Church.

Who was Pedro Calungsod then? Where did he come from? At least four towns in the Visayas claim him: Ginatilan and Tuburan in Cebu, Loboc in Bohol, and Leon in Iloilo. Cebu and Bohol are rated "more probable" as places of origin, but Leon in Iloilo rates high in probability too. Loboc in Bohol had a Jesuit "minor seminary" where the boy could have been educated. But in Tigbauan near Villa de Arevalo, Iloilo, the Jesuit Pedro Chirino had established the first Jesuit school for native boys in the Philippines.  It is not unlikely that a boy could have come from nearby and joined the Tigbauan school. The Calunsods (written now, more commonly, without the "g") of the present tell us they have old family traditions that say a Calungsod boy, only 11 or 12, had gone to Mactan island, joined the Jesuit mission station, and then traveled with the priests to some islands "near Hawaii" and was later killed with the Fathers there.

What is indisputable is that he was a Visayan and a young man. "Joven Bisayo": all the documents of the time say this, repeatedly. He belonged to the Diocese of Cebu. At that time all the Visayas (Eastern and Western) --even the island of Guam --belonged to the Diocese of Cebu.

So the Pedro Calungsod who will be beatified was a "brown-skinned native" Visayan. It seems an outstanding young man of his time and place, "pride of his people." Perhaps it doesn't matter if he was ultimately form Cebu, Bohol or Iloilo. All the Visayans can rightly claim him as their own. All Filipinos will be proud to do so also.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz, our first canonized Filipino saint, was Chinese mestizo from Binondo, Manila. He was married and was father to a family. He died as a martyr in Japan, earlier in the 17th century. He was fleeing the Philippines, secretly joining the Dominican missionaries, seeking to evade the law for some crime we don't really know anything about.

Pedro Calungsod was young and unmarried, a teenager at death, a mission-volunteer. Almost certainly a barrio boy. The Iloilo Calunsods today claim Pedro's father was a skilled craftsman, a goldsmith. The skills of goldsmithing run in the family, they say. There are Calunsod goldsmith even today; one practices his craft at Molo, Iloilo. (A friend of Cardinal Sin, a Calunsod, once gifted him with an episcopal ring created by another Calunsod. This is a source of pride to the family.)

We hope that many more among Filipino Catholics will join the campaign of prayer that Pedro Calungsod may soon be beatified by Pope John Paul II. The Cebu archdiocese, under Cardinal Vidal's enthusiastic leadership, is "pushing the cause" with much intense prayer and preaching, publication and promotional activities. What we are asked to do now is storm heaven for this gift to our people as we welcome the year 2000, the year of the great Jubilee of the coming of God's Son, as man, into our world. Calungsod's beatification would be one of the real high points of the Jubilee for us Filipinos.

We have, then a religious event to look forward to. Saints are gifts from the Lord to a people. They become channels of many blessings. And, as this new year begins, blessings from the Father in heaven are what we need most of all. We trust "blessed" Pedro Calungsod will be a new intercessor for us all. Our young people need a timely role model and patron like this teen-aged martyr , who deserves a special place in the life of the Church in our country. After all, even in heaven, he remains one of our own.

If any favors from God are received through Pedro Calungsod's prayers, please communicate with the Archdiocesan Chanery, (attn: Fr. Ildebrando Leyson), Pastoral Center, P. Burgos St. 6000 Cebu City, Philippines. 

Back on top

 


Find out more of  Blessed Pedro Calungsod on the Society of Jesus website and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines website.



Books

  • Pedro Calungsod, Young Visayan Proto-Martyr
    a 40-page booklet published by the Archdiocese of Manila for Cardinal Sin, with 24 December 1998 as publication date
    cf. Archdiocese of Manila Youth Ministry, Archdiocesan Chancery, 121 Arzobispo St., Intramuros, Manila
    New edition from the Daughters of St. Paul, Manila, 2000

  • Pedro Calonsor Bisaya, Prospects of a Teenage Filipino
    the new and "definitive book" by the cause's Vice-Postulator, Rev. Ildebrando Aliņo Leyson
    Quezon City, Claretian Publications 1999. Available at the Pastoral Center, P. Burgos St., Cebu City

Back on top

 



Pedro Calungsod:
The Young Martyr of the Visayas

by Louie Jon A. Sanchez, The Varsitarian

 

It has been more than a decade since the first Filipino saint was beatified. Lorenzo Ruiz. He was martyred in Nagasaki along with eight other Dominican priests. Since then, the Philippine Church has been paving the way for other noble Filipinos who, through their past heroic faith and courage, are deemed worthy of being officially proclaimed beatus, blessed. There are Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, founder of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, the largest religious congregation for women in the Philippines, and Francisca del Espiritu Santo, founder of the Dominican Sisters of Siena in the Philippines. Both women lived in the 17th century.

It was faith, and fate that brought them to the church's mission of evangelization. They came from all walks of life; regardless of color, wealth or origin, their missionary zeal stood as a living witness to the faith even at the point of death.

Pedro Calungsod, a 15th century Visayan, was no exception. At about 13 or 15, he was already helping in the local Jesuit catechesis. At 18, he was martyred "in hatred of the faith" by two Guam natives, while trying to protect Jesuit priest Diego Luis San Vitores. San Vitores was later beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1985.

The road to sainthood

For many years, the figure of Calungsod had been left to oblivion, until the Archdiocese of Manila pushed for his elevation to the pantheon of saints.

The Archdiocese of Cebu has been working on Calungsod's case since the 80's. It has included in its masses a prayer for beatification before the final blessing. A growing number of literature is also being produced about Calungsod.

Many devotees feel that Calungsod's beatification is imminent, in time for the several beatifications scheduled on the great Jubilee Year 2000.

A report published in Today newspaper said the vice postulator for Calungsod's beatification, Father Ildebrando Aliņo Leyson, had recently been informed by the Roman Congregation for the Canonization of Saints, that the body would "take up the dossier on the young Filipino proto-martyr from the Visayas, formally discussing and passing at least a preliminary judgment on his case," an optimistic phase for Calungsod's speedy elevation. A plus factor in Calungsod's cause is that he died a teenager and he should thus stand as a model and inspiration for the Filipino youth. Calungsod is the perfect example to Pope John Paul II's idea of a youth dedicated to the Church's mission of evangelization.

Humble beginnings

Calungsod's beginnings haven't been solidly established, and there are disputes regarding his birthplace which could be Cebu, Bohol, or Iloilo, although the former already laid the process for beatification.

Based on accounts, Calungsod was taught in a Jesuit minor seminary in Loboc, Bohol. For young recruits like him, the training consisted of learning catechism, Spanish, and Latin. They would be later sent with the priests to the countryside to perform daily religious functions as altar boys or catechists. Some of them were even sent to missionary centers overseas to accompany the Jesuits in their arduous task of proclaiming the Good News and establishing the Catholic faith in foreign lands.

Heeding the call

On June 18, 1668, the zealous Jesuit superior San Vitores, answering a "special call," began a new mission composed of 17 young laymen and priests to the Isles de los Ladrones (The Robber Islands), which the Spaniard renamed as Marianas, after the Queen Maria Anan and the Virgin Mary.

The task of converting the islands was first successful. The missionaries reached out to the backward poblaciones and baptized over 13,000 natives. Capillas began to rise at various sites as Catholic instruction became extensive. A  school and church were even built and dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola in the City of Agadna in the northeast. Calungsod and other young missionaries were instrumental in realizing the Jesuits noble objectives.

Dilemmas

The Marianas missions were eventually shaken by difficulties, conflicts of interests, and challenges from the natives themselves. Some converts broke away from the new faith and turned against the Jesuit for odd reasons, like fearing what some of the natives claimed as the "magical" rituals and ceremonies of the missionaries.

Choco, an influential Chinese who earlier came from a sunken wreck, misled the local folk about the religious practices of the priests, such as baptism, which he claimed to be a way of killing the children. He also claimed the Mass wine was poisonous. He was later arrested by San Vitores and converted to the faith.

Fierce native leaders made life hard for the Jesuits and their young helpers. Armed rebellions and movements took place in the localities. One major insurgency was the 40-day siege by a chieftain named Hurao of the Spanish garrison where the Jesuits were housed. The Spaniards overcame the insurrection and San Vitores revived their mission. The meek priest later forgave Hurao and asked authorities to release him.

The fighting did not stop there. The natives continuously seized and set afire the Spanish settlements. San Vitores and his companions were able to renew their evangelization only after a cease-fire agreement ended the hostilities.

Martyrdom

The Jesuit mission in Marianas gradually declined as member of the mission were killed.

On April 2, 1672, San Vitores and Calungsod went to Agadna after a mass, to baptized new-born children and to visit and bring back to the faith an elderly Filipino named Esteban, who was once hired by San Vitores as his tutor in the local dialect.

While passing in the area of Tumhon, the two encountered the native Matapang, who had converted to the faith but broke away after being influenced by anti-Christian macana groups. Matapang's wife had just given birth to a baby girl, and San Vitores offered her baptism. Matapang in disgust sent the priest and Calungsod away.

However, San Vitores and Calungsod stayed and went to the nearby beach. They gathered the children playing around and other adults for catechism. Like Christ gathering the little ones around him, San Vitores admonished Matapang to join them. Matapang resisted the call and left with a plan of getting back at the priest for good.

Matapang saw another native, Hirao, and asked for help in killing the priest and his companion. Hirao was at first hesitant, being aware of the priest's kindness. He even reminded Matapang of the big help San Vitores showed him when he was severely wounded. But Matapang was resolute and even convinced Hirao to turn against the priest. They looked for weapons and plotted the death of the missionaries.

Upon their return, Matapang and Hirao attacked Calungsod, but the young missionary was able to escape the spears aimed at him. He tried to get closer to San Vitores to protect the priest, until a spear suddenly pierced through his chest, wounding him. One of the killers breached his skill with a machete axe. the priest suffered the same fate, with only "May God have mercy on you," to utter.

News of the bloody sacrifice of the Jesuit missionary and his companion reached the Philippines and on May 3, 1672, a Te Deum and requiem was held in their memory in Manila.

Although he might have lived more than 300 years ago, Pedro Calungsod is perhaps representative of the Filipino's youth's dynamic commitment to the Catholic Church's mission of evangelization.

True "fishers of men" and "harvesters in the Lord's vineyard," modern day Pedro Calungsod are all around the globe. They risk their lives in foreign lands while proclaiming the Good News of salvation to everyone.

print: October 20, 1999, The Varsitarian, Vol. LXXI No. 6

Back on top

 



Note from the author

First edition note:

I created this site in the hope that Beato Pedro Calungsod would grant me a great favor and let me pass all my second year subjects :-) Visitors are requested to pray with me and in return, I pray that your supplications will also be favored by the young martyr. Remember, he needs to perform 2 miracles to be recognized as saint. By the way, the two prayers above are "personal prayers" and are not "officially" commissioned by the Church. 

Update note:

At last, I was able to find time to update the site, have been busy in school and extra-curriculars. Thanks to those who have previously visited this site, and their prayers. Well, I guess I got my prayers fulfilled since I am now in third year --uhmm... Unfortunately I still need a lot of your prayers since our subjects now are doubly hard. I hope Blessed Calungsod would favor me again and let me pass all my third year subjects. 

The two prayers I'm referring to in my first note are the "Personal Prayer" and "Prayer for Special Intentions."

I pray your prayers be answered too.


The portrait of Blessed Pedro Calungsod was conceived by artist Rafael del Casal. How I wish I could tell you more about it, like who the model was, but I forgot his name. He was featured on GMA News. Try snooping around their site and find out who he is.


Try also visiting my other web pages:
frogbites
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry
UST Faculty of Medicine & Surgery Section D Class 2002

Back on top

 

1