Portrait of Calungsod not based on actual person, says Jesuit priest-A A +A
Saturday, August 25, 2012
THE image of Blessed Pedro Calungsod was an artist’s interpretation and not based on an actual person, said Jesuit priest Jose Quilongquilong.
The oil painting Rafael del Casal portrays Calungsod holding a palm with his right hand over his chest. It was painted in 1999.
There was confusion whether the official painting of the Visayan teenaged catechist was based on an actual person, Quilongquilong told Sun.Star Cebu.
The Jesuit priest had worked closely with then Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal on the cause for the beatification of Calungsod, including arranging for a trip to Guam to conduct an investigation.
Calungsod was a young man who joined a Jesuit mission to the Marianas Islands to teach the Catholic faith. He was killed with Blessed Diego Luis de Sanvitores by natives of Tumhon village in Guam in the Marianas Islands in 1672.
“Fr. Catalino Arevalo (SJ) published a book before Msgr. (Ildebrando) Leyson published his book. Father Arevalo had used an actual model for his book,” said Quilongquilong.
He was referring to “Pedro Calungsod: Young Visayan Proto-Martyr” that was first printed in early 1998, or two years before Calungsod was beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II.
In the book, Arevalo relates that he originally commissioned the official Calungsod portrait that was brought by Fr. Quilongquilong to Cebu for Vidal and Leyson.
In the same book, there are photos of a model who posed as Calungsod.
“When Rafael del Casal offered to paint Calungsod, Father Arevalo gave him pictures of his model. Del Casal told me he did not paint the (official) portrait based on an actual model,” said Quilongquilong, the rector of the largest Jesuit community in the country at the Loyola House of Studies in Quezon City.
“He (del Casal) will write a letter to clarify this issue,” he said.
Quilongquilong said there was no actual image of Pedro Calungsod, and the portrayal in religious art was based on the account of Fr. Alcina.
He was referring to the author of Historia de las Islas e indios de Bisayas, which is also the source cited by the postulator for the cause of Calungsod’s sainthood, Msgr. Leyson.
Leyson, in his own book “Pedro Calonsor Bissaya: Prospects of a Teenage Filipino,” states that “Alcina, who was a contemporary of Pedro Calungsod, described the male Visayan indios of his time as usually more corpulent, better built and somewhat taller than the Tagalogs in Luzon; that their skin was light brown in color; that their faces were usually round and of fine proportions; that their noses were flat; that their eyes and hair were black; that they, especially the youth, wore their hair a bit long; and that they already started to wear camisas (shirts) and calzones (knee breeches).”
Beyond the portraits of saints, these are images that should draw the faithful to a deeper sense of faith in God.
“The word icon means image. When it becomes an object of veneration, it (the image) becomes a window to something divine. As a saint is proclaimed by the Church, this means he had a life of holiness,” said Quilongquilong, a theology professor.
“For the person, the faithful looking at this icon, he is drawn to holiness. Like the Santo Niño, one is drawn to a window of joy of trust,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 26, 2012.