Homily of Pope Benedict XVI on the Canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod

Watch Video of the Canonization here

The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mk 10:45)

Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the Church listens again to these words of Jesus, spoken by the Lord during his journey to Jerusalem, where he was to accomplish the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection.  They are words which enshrine the meaning of Christ’s mission on earth, marked by his sacrifice, by his total self-giving.  On this third Sunday of October, on which we celebrate World Mission Sunday, the Church listens to them with special attention and renews her conviction that she should always be fully dedicated to serve mankind and the Gospel, after the example of the One who gave himself up even to the sacrifice of his life.

I extend warm greetings to all of you who fill Saint Peter’s Square, especially the official delegations and the pilgrims who have come to celebrate the seven new saints.  I greet with affection the Cardinals and Bishops who, during these days, are taking part in the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelization.  The coincidence between this ecclesiastical meeting and World Mission Sunday is a happy one; and the word of God that we have listened to sheds light on both subjects.  It shows how to be evangelizers, called to bear witness and to proclaim the Christian message, configuring ourselves to Christ and following his same way of life.  This is true both for the mission ad Gentes and for the new evangelization in places with ancient Christian roots.

The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mk 10:45)

These words were the blueprint for living of the seven Blessed men and women that the Church solemnly enrols this morning in the glorious ranks of the saints.  With heroic courage they spent their lives in total consecration to the Lord and in the generous service of their brethren.  They are sons and daughters of the Church who chose a life of service following the Lord.  Holiness always rises up in the Church from the well-spring of the mystery of redemption, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in the first reading: the Servant of the Lord is the righteous one who “shall make many to be accounted as righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Is 53:11); this Servant is Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and living in glory.  Today’s canonization is an eloquent confirmation of this mysterious saving reality.  The tenacious profession of faith of these seven generous disciples of Christ, their configuration to the Son of Man shines out brightly today in the whole Church.

Jacques Berthieu, born in 1838 in France, was passionate about Jesus Christ at an early age…. May God bless the Malagasy people!

Pedro Calungsod was born around the year 1654, in the Visayas region of the Philippines. His love for Christ inspired him to train as a catechist with the Jesuit missionaries there. In 1668, along with other young catechists, he accompanied Father Diego Luís de San Vitores to the Marianas Islands in order to evangelize the Chamorro people. Life there was hard and the missionaries also faced persecution arising from envy and slander. Pedro, however, displayed deep faith and charity and continued to catechize his many converts, giving witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel. Uppermost was his desire to win souls for Christ, and this made him resolute in accepting martyrdom. He died on the April 2nd 1672. Witnesses record that Pedro could have fled for safety but chose to stay at Father Diego’s side. The priest was able to give Pedro absolution before he himself was killed. May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!

Giovanni Battista Piamarta, priest of the Diocese of Brescia, was a great apostle of charity and of young people….

“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you” (Ps 32:22).  With these words, the liturgy invites us to make our own this hymn to God, creator and provider, accepting his plan into our lives.  María Carmelo Sallés y Barangueras, a religious born in Vic in Spain in 1848, did just so….

I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in 1838 in Heppenheim, Germany.  Only one year old when taken to the United States, in 1862 she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York….

Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in 1656 to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God.  She was baptized at twenty years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal….Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America!  May God bless the first nations!

Anna Schaeffer, from Mindelstetten, as a young woman wished to enter a missionary order.…

Dear brothers and sisters, these new saints, different in origin, language, nationality and social condition, are united among themselves and with the whole People of God in the mystery of salvation of Christ the Redeemer.  With them, we too, together with the Synod Fathers from all parts of the world, proclaim to the Lord in the words of the psalm that he “is our help and our shield” and we invoke him saying, “may your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you” (Ps 32:20.22).  May the witness of these new saints, and their lives generously spent for love of Christ, speak today to the whole Church, and may their intercession strengthen and sustain her in her mission to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.

From http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20121021_canonizzazioni_en.html

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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 8hope 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.

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.

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 Calungsod.


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Persecution and Devotion

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.

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.


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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.”


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What did the other Mariana missionaries say about Pedro?

Painting courtesy of the various associations of Angono, Rizal Artists headed by promotions and merchandise team for Calungsod’s canonization, Clarke Nebrao with artists Edwin Moreno and Bong Anore and others.

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.


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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.


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How did St. Pedro ….

How did Pedro become part of the Jesuit Mission in the Ladrones?

It was one of the apostolates 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.

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.


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