Faith, goods and works: Fruits of Calungsod’s canonization-A A +A
Sunday, October 21, 2012
TODAY, a teenager from the Visayas will have his name inscribed in the catalogue of saints, bringing untold pride and benefits to the Philippines as it welcomes only its second saint.
Pedro Calungsod will be canonized with six other blessed persons in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Italy and henceforth hold the title St. Pedro Calungsod, Lay Catechist and Martyr.
He will be the Philippines’ second saint after San Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila, who was canonized in 1987 by Pope John Paul II.
Calungsod was a teenage catechist who served in the Jesuit Mission in the Marianas with Spanish priest Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores in the 1600s.
He and the priest met their deaths on April 2, 1672 when two natives of Tumhon village in Guam, Marianas named Matapang and Hirao attacked them with spears and a cutlass for baptizing the baby girl of Matapang, a Christian who had apostatized.
Their bodies were thrown into the sea and never found.
San Vitores was beatified in October 1985 while Calungsod was beatified in March 2000.
The rewards of sainthood are great -- not only for the saint but also for the faithful.
A person declared by the Church as “blessed” is venerated only within his or her diocese, but a “saint” is venerated by the universal Church.
Fr. Mhar Balili, liturgy coordinator for the canonization’s Rome-based preparations, said with the new Filipino saint, “we have a saint in heaven whom we can call our own—from our native land.”
He voiced hope that with the canonization, more people would know about Calungsod and there would be an increase in devotion to him.
“Canonization will lead to conversion,” he said.
Fr. Carmelo Diola said having Calungsod for a saint would lead people to give more dignity to the youth and overseas Filipino workers, appreciating the value of their silent, humble service and dedication to duty.
Diola describes the pain Calungsod must have felt the last time he saw his family.
“He was only 13 years old then. One can imagine a final farewell. They had no planes or boats to ensure a return to Cebu after a period of time. Nor did they have Internet. So the goodbyes were final,” he said.
Tide of pilgrims
Balili said about 5,000 Filipino pilgrims will attend the liturgical services in Rome, Italy.
Aside from Calungsod, to be canonized are French martyr and Jesuit priest Jacques Berthieu, Italian founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Spanish foundress of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching Maria del Carmen (nee Maria Salles y Barangueras), German religious of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse, USA Maria Anna Cope (nee Barbara), American laywoman Kateri Tekakwitha and German laywoman Anna Schaffer.
“We encourage that there will be no masses on the day of canonization for all (50) Filipino communities in Rome and that they attend the celebration at St. Peter’s,” said Balili.
“I hope the pilgrims will bring with them the beautiful experience when they go back to their respective places,” he added.
After the elaborate liturgical celebrations in Rome, local and foreign visitors are expected to flock to Cebu to visit churches and shrines, said Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
“There are economic benefits, especially with foreigners coming. This would add to our coffers,” he told Sun.Star Cebu before he left for Rome last week.
In fact, the benefits of religious tourism are already being felt by the sellers of religious statues, novena prayer booklets, books, key chains and shirts.
Ten-inch-tall Pedro Calungsod statues are selling fast at the shop next to the Archdiocesan Shrine of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, said store manager Carlomagno Bacaltos.
He said sales had increased to six to seven pieces a day from only a piece or two.
There are posters that sell for P40 and P80 and medallions going for P100 to P180 depending on the design.
Last Friday, the store ran out of the novena prayer booklets to the soon-to-be saint, and only a few copies of the books authored by Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson, shrine rector and postulator for Calungsod’s sainthood, were left.
Bacaltos said the devotees who visit the shrine come from all walks of life, and many of them choose to buy a statue of the saint.
At the Sacred Heart Parish Resource Center, a three-foot-tall image sells for P15,000, while a smaller version sells for at least P3,000.
“The idea is not to make money but to make resources available to the people,” said Archdiocesan Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus parish priest Fr. Benjamin Sim S.J.
“(The canonization) is an important event. The people can’t pass up an opportunity to buy something that would remind them of this event,” he said.
He added that the statues and novenas help people to seek the intercession of Calungsod and to praise God for giving the people a model with good virtues to emulate.
Importance of symbols
Vidal said the image of Pedro Calungsod should have a brown complexion and a palm leaf, symbolizing his martyrdom. Calungsod should be carrying a Doctrina Cristiana (Christian Doctrine) book. And his right foot should be in front of his left.
These symbols represent the life of Pedro as a missionary catechist and a Filipino.
“Symbols or emblems are very, very important in iconography,” said iconographer Louie Nacorda. “These are the things that would properly identify the saint represented in the artwork.”
Public relations practitioner Jing-jing Farrarons said in secular terms merchandising is helpful in promoting an event or advocacy “as long as it is not overboard and out and out commercialism.”
While there are souvenir manufacturers that look only to the profit they can make, “if you take away the moneymaking aspect, (the merchandising of religious items) helps popularize devotions,” she said.
Pedrito and iPad
A new popular souvenir item is Pedrito, the 15-inch doll that carries a “missionary” sling bag and has an iPad-cum-Doctrina Cristiana. The doll is the personification of a missionary youth or a “lakwatserong misyonero.”
“The initial idea was to use it as a gimmick, to encourage people during the Duaw Nasud (visit of the official Calungsod statue around the country) to talk about Pedro Calungsod,” said Ehmelie Lallingat, website coordinator for the National Commission on the Promotion of the Devotion to Pedro Calungsod.
“But the manufacturer said they could not produce just three pieces. The minimum order was 40 pieces. We then decided to sell the rest of the dolls,” she said.
Many orders have been received through the contact number and email address posted on the Saint Pedro Calungsod Facebook account.
Lallingat said only a few orders were from Manila or Luzon. The bulk was from Cebu.
Nacorda said the doll of a saint is new and can be acceptable.
“The cute doll is okay for me. But, of course, hindi naman pwede ipa-bless dahil comic nga ang dating (you can’t have it blessed because it’s like a cartoon),” said the iconographer.
Boosting the faith
Sainthood is good for the Catholic faith in general. In “Economics of sainthood (a preliminary investigation),” Robert J. Barro and Rachel M. McCleary of Harvard University and Alexander McQuoid of Columbia University, who studied the canonizations conducted from the years 1234 to 2009, said saint making enhances the enthusiasm of Catholics to stay in their religion, helping the Catholic Church to fend off competition from rival religion providers.
With a saint having universal status, the saint’s site also becomes a pilgrimage destination, drawing the faithful worldwide “who come to worship and give donations,” discouraging the entry of rival missionaries, they added.
Challenge for all
Balili said it is a great challenge for the youth of today that they are not only “the recipients of the Word of God but that they too can be the instruments of evangelization.”
In Guam, Fr. Diego had a humble, faithful, energetic companion who may have also been his source of encouragement.
“We hope Blessed Pedro’s canonization will inspire the youth to find in the leaders of the Church a meaningful companion and vice versa. The youth and their elders need one another in the journey of faith,” said Diola. (With CTL/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 21, 2012.