New Filipino saint becomes new-media star

“Pedrito” travels around Rome ahead of this Sunday’s canonization.

pedrito in st. peter's square ahead of this sunday's canonization ceremony.

This Sunday Pope Benedict XVI will canonize seven new saints, one of whom is Blessed Pedro Calungsod, a teenage catechist from the Philippines who was martyred in 17th-centry Guam. In an effort to spread the word about their country’s newest saint—the second Filipino to be canonized by the Church—the New Media Committee for the Philippines’ Catholic Bishops’ Conference distributed a limited number of 15-inch dolls, or “mini-Pedros,” encouraging people to take pictures in the days leading up to the canonization and post them on Facebook and Twitter.

pedrito in st. peter's square ahead of this sunday's canonization ceremony.

“Pedrito” met Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, archbishop emeritus of Cebu, Philippines, at the Pontifical Filipino College in Rome, and has been photographed in many other locations all over the Eternal City, including the Vatican Press Office, where he was pictured with his own tiny iPad.


Daughters of Immaculate Conception of Charity pose with Pedrito in Rome.


From the Catholic News Service’s article on the soon-to-be-canonized teenage saint: 

While little is known about the life of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, his canonization brings to light the role of the laity in the evangelization of the Pacific in the 17th century. 

Blessed Calungsod, among the seven people to be declared saints by Pope Benedict XVI Oct. 21, came to the Mariana Islands in 1668 and was one of a group of lay catechists who assisted the Jesuit missionaries in their Pacific mission. …

A Filipino native from the Visayas Islands, Calungsod was in his early teens when he arrived in Guam with Jesuit Father Diego Luis de San Vitores. …

On April 2, 1672, Calungsod was martyred alongside Father San Vitores after the Jesuit baptized the infant daughter of Chamorro Chief Mata’pang. While Father San Vitores baptized the girl in her mother’s presence, it was without the consent of the chief. After learning of the baptism, Mata’pang enlisted the assistance of Chamorro warrior Hirao, and together they attacked and killed Father San Vitores and Calungsod. Their deaths occurred on the Saturday before Passion Sunday.

Today, a monument depicting the baptism stands just off the coast of Tumon, Guam, near the site where the two were martyred. …

Blessed Calungsod’s cause represents the move by Pope John Paul to “raise up new models of holiness for the people of our time,” Father Hezel said. As a lay catechist who died for the faith, Blessed Calungsod fit that model.

The canonization is also a reminder of the role of the laity and of the Asia-Pacific people in the spreading of Catholicism in the Pacific islands, he said.

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.