Pedro Calungsod was slain when he tried to bring Christianity to the natives of Guam

Pedro Calungsod was slain when he tried to bring Christianity to the natives of Guam

September 3, 2012
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Pedro Calungsod, born in Cebu, Philippines, in 1654, was a sacristan and a missionary catechist. He was also a martyr who stood along Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores in missionary work in Guam in 1672.

Few details of his early life prior to missionary work and death are known. It is probable that he received basic education at a Jesuit boarding school. He likely honed his expertise in drawing, painting, singing, acting and carpentry as these skills were deemed necessary in missionary work at the time.

YOUNG CATECHIST

An agile and athletic boy, he tagged along with Blessed San Vitores on his rough journeys. At age 14, he was among the youngest catechists to accompany the Jesuits in their mission to the Ladrones Islands, otherwise known as the Isles of Thieves, before Christian influence led the islands to be renamed the Mariana Islands.

Calungsod and San Vitores went to Guam to catechize the native Chamorros. Missionary life proved difficult as provisions did not arrive regularly, the jungle terrain was difficult to traverse and the islands were frequently devastated by typhoons.

Despite these hindrances, the mission continued, and they were able to convert many locals to Christianity.

Calungsod's mission in Guam tested his faith. He was determined to bring Christianity to the natives of Guam. However, when the priest, with Calungsod's assistance, baptized a chief's daughter without his consent, the furious chief, along with another chief, pursued and killed both Calungsod and San Vitores.

Witnesses claim that Calungsod could have escaped the spears thrown at him, but did not want to abandon San Vitores. Calungsod was hit in the chest and collapsed to the ground. A machete blow to the head finished him off. San Vitores absolved Calungsod before he too was killed.

The Catholic Church uses the phrase "in odium fidei" (in hatred of the faith) to describe the martyrdom of Calungsod. He endured sufferings for the sake of evangelizing.

In 1994, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal requested permission from the Vatican for the beatification and canonization of Calungsod. Pope John Paul II approved the request. Calungsod was beatified on March 5, 2000.

MIRACLE APPROVED

On Dec. 19, 2011, the Holy See officially approved the miracle qualifying for sainthood. The recognized miracle dates from 2002 when a woman who was pronounced clinically dead by doctors two hours after a heart attack was revived when a doctor prayed for Calungsod's intercession.

Pope Benedict set the date for Calungsod's canonization for Oct. 21, World Mission Sunday.