THE PHILIPPINES will soon have its second Filipino saint.

Blessed Pedro Calungsod is expected to be proclaimed saint before the year ends after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints unanimously recommended his canonization, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said.

The Archdiocese of Cebu, where Calungsod was born, submitted this year an official petition for another review of Calungsod’s life and works to the congregation in Rome.

Palma, in a phone interview with the Varsitarian, said the cause of the Visayan lay companion of Jesuit missionaries to the Marianas passed three levels of votation needed for canonization.

“First was the medical team which found that the proposed miracle indeed happened. Then there was the group of theologians who also examined the link between the intercession of Blessed Pedro Calungsod and the proposed miracle, and they also voted in the affirmative. The last was a group of cardinals,” Palma said.

The bishops of Cebu are hoping that Pope Benedict XVI will announce the formal decree of canonization this month or in December, he said.

“Eventually, it’s the Pope’s announcement that is confirmatory and that is definitive. It is the Pope who will say the final words,” Palma said.

Once canonized, Calungsod would be the first Visayan and the second Filipino saint next to St. Lorenzo Ruiz, who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in the Vatican on Oct. 18, 1987.

Palma said the canonization process is “very tedious” as regards gathering historical evidence.

“There is also so much effort [needed] to dig [for] historical records and so much effort to stand by the committee to review. And also, let us admit that in many places like Rome or Spain, they have started the [canonization] process a long time ago. [While the Philippines may only have started gathering accounts] five hundred years ago, the others [have] started for the last two thousand years,” Palma said.

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Other Filipino candidates for sainthood include Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, founder of the Religious of the Virgin Mary; Mother Francisca del Espiritu Santo, founder of the Dominican Congregation of Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena; and Mother Maria Beatriz del Rosario Arroyo, founder of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines.

Calungsod was beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 5, 2000 at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

When Calungsod was 14 years old, he volunteered to accompany Diego Luis de San Vitores, a Jesuit priest, and other Catholics to Marianas Islands to help Christianize natives. In 1672, Calungsod and San Vitores were killed using a bone-tip lance by a native, who was against the Spanish monarchs.

For a blessed to be canonized, another miracle is required to be documented by the archdiocese that requested review. The records of the miracle would have to be passed on to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints where it would undergo the three levels of votation. Papal infallibility is involved as the Holy Father gives the final decision.

Palma said today’s youth should be inspired by the life of Calungsod, who was a young catechist. This was also timely for the 13th general assembly of the Synod of Bishops next year, which is about evangelization, he said.

“The point is, try to defend the faith. [The Church] appreciates youth ministries that work for the sake of preaching the Good News,” Palma said.

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