1-December-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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New saint inspires massive celebration in Philippines

Almost one million Catholics gathered in the Philippines Nov. 30 to celebrate the canonization of the 17th- century teenage missionary and martyr, Saint Pedro Calungsod.

"People are inspired because we have a new saint. People are looking for someone as a model whom they can emulate," said Father Eduardo Ventic, a committee chair for the National Day of Thanksgiving honoring the saint, in remarks to CBCP News.

Enthusiastic crowds gathered around St. Pedro Calungsod's shrine on 67 acres of land in central Cebu City. The crowd greeted a wooden statue of the saint with cries of "Viva San Pedro Calungsod," according to the Associated Press.

The celebrations included a boat parade that had a replica of the galleon the teenage saint traveled in to Guam. Thousands took part in a walking procession to the National Thanksgiving Mass at the shrine. The day concluded with a cultural celebration and a major fireworks display.

Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, the Archbishop emeritus of Cebu, celebrated the Mass and current Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma gave the homily. Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, attended the Mass with the papal nuncios to the Philippines and to Korea. Around 70 bishops attended the event.

Father Marvin Mejia, a school superintendent and assistant secretary general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said the teenage saint could be "a patron to the young."

"I think that it is natural now that the young people, especially Catholic youth may be embracing him" as one of their own, he told CBCP News. "I think Pedro Calungsod is now a household name, even (for) the young kids."

The saint was born in about 1655 in Cebu. In 1668 at the age of about 14, Spanish Jesuit missionaries chose him as a catechist to accompany them to the Mariana Islands, where they worked on the island of Guam.

With the Jesuit priest Bl. Diego Luis de San Vitores, Calungsod converted many locals. In the village of Tumon, Calungsod and the priest drew violent opposition from a chief whose baby daughter the missionaries baptized at the request of his Christian wife.

The chief threw spears at Calungsod, who dodged them. He did not flee because he did not want to abandon the priest. Finally a spear hit him in the chest, disabling him. A villager then killed Calungsod with a machete.

The priest was also killed.

The bodies of St. Pedro Calungsod and the priest were stripped and large stones were tied to their feet. Their bodies were taken out to sea and thrown into the water.

Bl. Diego Luis de San Vitores was beatified in 1985 and St. Pedro Calungsod was beatified in 2000.

Pope Benedict XVI canonized the young saint in October.

Attendees at the Mass included Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia, Cebu Mayor Michael Rama and other officials.

The saint's wooden statue has toured three dozen dioceses in the Philippines.

Fr. Mejia said devotees showed "joy in their faces" and expressed their veneration and their faith through their gestures like wiping handkerchiefs on the statue and waving flags.

"People are lining along the route, waving flags or branches as a sign of welcome, opening their arms in welcome; saying prayers while the motorcade was passing along - whatever time it was whether it's night, people were there with torches," he said.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/World.php?id=6641#ixzz2E2EWJQXi

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