Saint Pedro Calungsod
July 21, 1654 - April
Feastday: April 2
Pedro Calungsod (Latin: Petrus Calungsod, Italian: Pietro Calungsod; July 21,
1654 – April 2, 1672), also known as Peter Calungsod and Pedro Calonsor, was a
Roman Catholic Filipino migrant, sacristan and missionary catechist who, along
with the Spanish Jesuit missionary Diego Luis de San Vitores, suffered religious
persecution and martyrdom in Guam for their missionary work in 1672.
While in Guam, Calungsod preached
Christianity to the Chamorro people through catechism, while baptizing infants,
children and adults at the risk and expense of being persecuted and eventually
murdered. Through Calungsod and San Vitores' missionary efforts, many native
Chamorros converted to Roman Catholicism.
Calungsod was formally beatified on March
5, 2000, by Pope John Paul II. Calungsod was officially canonized by Pope
Benedict XVI at Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on October 21, 2012.
Early years and
details of the early life of Calungsod (spelled Calonsor in Spanish records) are
known. Historical records do not mention his exact birthplace or birth date and
merely identified him as "Pedro Calonsor, el Visayo". Historical research
identifies Ginatilan in Cebu, Hinunangan and Hinundayan in Southern Leyte, and
the Molo district of Iloilo City as possible places of origin; Loboc, Bohol also
makes a claim. Of these claims, the ones from Molo, Iloilo and Ginatilan, Cebu
are considered the strongest. The Cebu camp reasoned that Ginatilan contains the
highest concentrations of people surnamed Calungsod and that during the
beatification process, they were the original claimants to having been
Proponents of an Ilonggo origin argue that
in the early Spanish period, the term "Visayan" exclusively referred to people
from the islands of Negros or Panay, whereas people from Cebu, Bohol and Leyte
were called "Pintados". Thus, had he been born in Cebu he would have been
referred to as "Calonsor El Pintado" instead of "Calonsor El Visayo"; the term "Visayan"
received its present scope (i.e., including inhabitants of Cebu, Bohol and Leyte)
sometime the 1700s. The Calungsod family in Iloilo also claims to be the oldest
branch, based on baptismal records containing the surname "Calungsod" dating to
circa 1748, compared to branches in Cebu and Leyte who possess baptismal records
dating only to 1828 and 1903. Regardless of his precise origin, all four
locations were within the territory of the Diocese of Cebu at the time of
Training and arrival on
is probable that he received basic education at a Jesuit boarding school,
mastering the Catechism and learning to communicate in Spanish. He also likely
honed his skills in drawing, painting, singing, acting, and carpentry, as these
were necessary in missionary work.
In 1668, Calungsod, then around 14, was
amongst the exemplary young catechists chosen to accompany Spanish Jesuit
missionaries to the Islas de los Ladrones ("Isles of Thieves"), which have since
been renamed the Mariana Islands the year before to honor both the Virgin Mary
and the mission's benefactress, María Ana of Austria, Queen Regent of Spain.
Calungsod accompanied the priest Diego San Vitores to Guam to catechize the
native Chamorros. Missionary life on the island was difficult as provisions did
not arrive regularly, the jungles and terrain were difficult to traverse, and
the Marianas were frequently devastated by typhoons. The mission nevertheless
persevered, and a significant number of locals were baptized into the faith.
man named Choco, a criminal from Manila who was exiled in Guam began spreading
rumors that the baptismal water used by missionaries was poisonous. As some
sickly Chamorro infants who were baptized eventually died, many believed the
story and held the missionaries responsible. Choco was readily supported by the
macanjas (medicine men) and the urritaos (young males) who despised the
In their search for a runaway companion
named Esteban, Calungsod and San Vitores came to the village of Tumon, Guam on
April 2, 1672. There they learnt that the wife of the village's chief Mata'pang
had given birth to a daughter, and they immediately went to baptize the child.
Influenced by the calumnies of Choco, Chief Mata'pang strongly opposed; to give
him some time to calm down, the missionaries gathered the children and some
adults of the village at the nearby shore and started chanting with them the
tenets of the Catholic faith. They invited Mata'pang to join them, but he
shouted back that he was angry with God and was fed up with Christian teachings.
Determined to kill the missionaries,
Mata'pang went away and tried to enlist another villager, a pagan named Hirao.
The latter initially refused, mindful of the missionaries' kindness towards the
natives, but became piqued and eventually capitulated when Mata'pang branded him
a coward. While Mata'pang was away from his house, San Vitores and Calungsod
baptized the baby girl, with the consent of her Christian mother.
When Mata'pang learnt of his daughter's
baptism, he became even more furious. He violently hurled spears first at
Calungsod, who was able to dodge them. Witnesses claim that Calungsod could have
escaped the attack, but did not desert San Vitores. Those who knew personally
Calungsod considered his martial abilities and that he could have defeated the
aggressors with weapons; San Vitores had however banned his companions to bear
arms. Calungsod was struck in the chest by a spear and he fell to the ground,
then Hirao immediately charged towards him and finished him off with machete
blow to the head. San Vitores quickly absolved Calungsod before he too was
Mata'pang took San Vitores' crucifix and
pounded it with a stone whilst blaspheming God. Both assassins then undressed
the corpses of Calungsod and San Vitores, tied large stones to the feet, and
brought these on their proas out to Tumon Bay, dumping the bodies in the water.
The Catholic Church considers Calungsod's
martyrdom as committed In Odium Fidei ('In Hatred of the Faith'), referring to
the religious persecution endured by the person in evangelization.
after the martyrdom of San Vitores and Calunsod, a process for beatification was
initiated but only for San Vitores. Political and religious turmoil, however,
delayed and halted the process. When Hagåtña was preparing for its 20th
anniversary as a diocese in 1981, the 1673 beatification cause of Padre Diego
Luís de San Vitores was rediscovered in old manuscripts and revived until San
Vitores was finally beatified on October 6, 1985. This gave recognition to
Calungsod, paving the way for his own beatification.
In 1980, then-Cebu Archbishop Ricardo
Cardinal Vidal asked permission from the Vatican to initiate the beatification
and canonization cause of Pedro Calungsod. In March 1997, the Sacred
Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the acta of the diocesan
beatification process. That same year, Cardinal Vidal appointed Fr Ildebrando
Leyson as vice-postulator for the cause, tasked with compiling a Positio Super
Martyrio (position regarding the martyrdom) to be scrutinized by the
Congregation. The positio, which relied heavily on the documentation of San
Vitores' beatification, was completed in 1999.
Wanting to include young Asian laypersons
in his first beatification for the Jubilee Year 2000, John Paul II paid
particular attention to the cause of Calungsod. In January 2000, he approved the
decree super martyrio (concerning the martyrdom) of Calungsod, setting his
beatification for March 5, 2000 at Saint Peter's Square in Rome.
Regarding Calungsod's charitable works and
virtuous deeds, Pope John Paul II declared:
- “ ...From his childhood, Pedro Calungsod
declared himself unwaveringly for Christ and responded generously to his
call. Young people today can draw encouragement and strength from the
example of Pedro, whose love of Jesus inspired him to devote his teenage
years to teaching the faith as a lay catechist. Leaving family and friends
behind, Pedro willingly accepted the challenge put to him by Fr. Diego de
San Vitores to join him on the Mission to the Chamorros. In a spirit of
faith, marked by strong Eucharistic and Marian devotion, Pedro undertook the
demanding work asked of him and bravely faced the many obstacles and
difficulties he met. In the face of imminent danger, Pedro would not forsake
Fr. Diego, but as a "good soldier of Christ" preferred to die at the
On December 19, 2011, the Holy See
officially approved the miracle qualifying Calungsod for sainthood by the Roman
Catholic Church. The recognized miracle dates from March 26, 2003, when a woman
from Leyte who was pronounced clinically dead by accredited physicians two hours
after a heart attack was revived when an attending physician invoked Calungsod's
Cardinal Angelo Amato presided over the
declaration ceremony on behalf of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He
later revealed that Pope Benedict XVI approved and signed the official
promulgation decrees recognising the miracles as authentic and worthy of belief.
The College of Cardinals were then sent a dossier on the new saints, and they
were asked to indicate their approval. On February 18, 2012, after the
Consistory for the Creation of Cardinals, Cardinal Amato formally petitioned
Pope Benedict XVI to announce the canonization of the new saints. The Pope set
the date for the canonization ceremony to October 21, 2012 on World Mission
Sunday, 340 years after Calungsod's death.
On October 21, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI
canonised Calungsod in Saint Peter's Square. The pope donned a pearl-studded
mitre preciosa and a cream-colored, pleated Papal fanon, a special vestment
reserved only for the pontiff and used on the most solemn and rare liturgical
occasions. Filipino Cardinal Ricardo Jamin Vidal concelebrated at the
canonization Mass, and of note is that amongst the seven new saints, Calungsod
was the only one without first class relic exposed for veneration since his body
was thrown into the sea. The cutlass knife used to hack Calungsod's head and
neck was retrieved by Cardinal Vidal from Guam, and is currently venerated as a
second-class relic. During the homily, Benedict XVI maintained that Calungsod
received the Sacrament of Absolution from Diego Luis de San Vitores before his
martyrdom and death.
After Saint Lorenzo Ruíz of Manila,
Calungsod is the second Filipino to be declared a saint by the Roman Catholic
Church. The Roman Martyrology celebrates Calungsod's feast along with Blessed
Diego Luis de San Vitores every April 2, their dies natalis (heavenly birthdate).
However, whenever April 2 falls within Holy Week or within the Octave of Easter,
his feast is celebrated on the Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent, that is, the
Saturday before Palm Sunday.
Saturday has been designated as the day of
devotion and novenas in his honour.
areas in the Visayan islands make the claim from which Pedro Calungsod was born
and raised. An extensive research provided by the census research of Ginatilan,
Cebu provided a longstanding record of Calonsor and Calungsod natives from their
area, from which a strong claim had the most Calungsod natives originating since
Filipino-Spanish era since the late 1700s. According to the Parish Pastoral
Council William Pancho of Ginatilan, Cebu, there is a strong claim that in the
mid-1600s, there were three Calungsod brothers:
- Valerio Calungsod who migrated to Iloilo
- Casimiro Calungsod who migrated to Bohol
- Pablo Calungsod who remained in
Ginatilan, Cebu and was the father of Pedro Calungsod.
public televised interview with ABS-CBN chief correspondent and newscaster
Korina Sanchez, Cardinal Ricardo Jamin Vidal emphasized his dismay that when the
original beatification of Pedro Calungsod began in 1980's, no province except
for Ginatilan, Cebu wanted to make a claim on his place of birth. Consequently,
when the canonization was approved, Catholic bishops from the provinces of Cebu,
Bohol, Leyte, Samar, and Iloilo and various Mindanao provinces wanted to claim
Calungsod's official birthplace.
As a result, Cardinal Vidal ruled that he
will not establish a definitive judgment on his birthplace, since Spanish
records only indicate the words "Pedro Calonsor, El Visayo" as his native
description. Furthermore, he stated that all Visayan provinces were under the
ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Cebu during the
It is not known exactly what Calungsod
looked like, as no contemporary depictions survive. The writer 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 little bit
long; and that they already started to wear camisas (shirts) and calzones (knee-breeches).
Pedro Chirino, S.J., who also worked in the Visayas in the 1590s, similarly
described the Visayans as well-built, of pleasing countenance and light-skinned.
Calungsod is often depicted as a teenaged
young man wearing a camisa de chino that is sometimes bloodied, and usually dark
loose trousers. His most popular attributes are the martyr's palm pressed to his
chest and the Doctrina Christiana. To indicate his missionary status, he is
depicted in mid-stride, occasionally also bearing a rosary or crucifix. In some
early statues, Calungsod is sometimes shown with a spear and catana (cutlass),
the instruments of his death.
first portraits of Pedro Calungsod were drawings done by award-winning artist,
sculptor, and designer Eduardo Castrillo in 1994 for the Heritage of Cebu
Monument in Parian. A bronze statue of Calungsod was made and now forms part of
the monument. Sculptors Francisco dela Victoria and Vicente Gulane of Cebu and
Justino Cagayat Jr. of Paete, Laguna, created statues of Calungsod in 1997 and
When the Archdiocese of Manila in 1998
published the pamphlet Pedro Calungsod: Young Visayan "Proto-Martyr" by Jesuit
theologian Catalino Arevalo, the 17-year-old Ronald Tubid of Oton, Iloilo, then
a student-athlete at the University of the East, was chosen to model for a
portrait of Calungsod. This then became the basis for Rafael del Casal's
painting in 1999, which was chosen as the official portrait for Calungsod. The
Del Casal portrait is the first to feature a Christogram, the seal of the
Society of Jesus with which he was affiliated. The original painting is now
enshrined at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Saint Pedro Calungsod in Cebu City.
Several statues of Calungsod were also
commissioned for the beatification, with one brought to Rome and blessed by John
Paul II. This became the "Pilgrim Image", now enshrined at the Archdiocesan
Shrine of the Black Nazarene of the Society of the Angel of Peace in Cansojong,
Talisay City, Cebu. Another image was enshrined at the Archdiocesan Shrine of
Saint Pedro Calungsod in Cebu City. Both images also depict Calungsod wearing a
white camisa (shirt) and trousers, with his characteristic palm, a rosary, and a
crucifix pressed to his breast. During the novena before his feast day, a
replica of the catana used to kill him is set into the arm of the statue.
For the Canonization celebrations, the
sculpture by Justino Cagayat Jr. depicting Calungsod in midstride and carrying
the Doctrina Christian and the martyr's palm pressed to his chest was chosen.
This image was brought to Rome for the Canonization festivities. Upon its return
to the Philippines, the image toured the country. These visits are currently
ongoing to promote devotion to Calungsod. When not on a pilgrimage tour, the
image is enshrined at the Cebu Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Pedro Calungsod inside
the Archbishop's Residence Compound, D. Jakosalem Street, Cebu City.
Calungsod: Batang Martir is a Filipino film released on December 25, 2013 as an
official entry to the 2013 Metro Manila Film Festival. It is produced by HPI
Synergy Group and Wings Entertainment, top-billed by actor Rocco Nacino and
written and directed by Francis O Villacorta.
- Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod – SM Aura
Premier, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City and SM Seaside City, Cebu
For the 2013 film, see Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir.
- Arevalo, Catalino. Pedro Calungsod,
Young Visayan Proto-Martyr, Archdiocese of Manila Youth Ministry 1998, New
edition from the Daughters of St. Paul, Manila 2000
- Leyson, Ildebrando Jesus. Pedro Calonsor
Bisaya, Prospects of a Teenage Filipino, Cebu City, Claretian Publications
- Leyson, Ildebrando Jesus A. Pedro
Calonsor Bissaya: Prospects of a Teenage Filipino. Second Edition. Cebu:
Basic Graphics, 2000. ISBN 971-501-834-3
- Diego Luís de San Vitores
- Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint
- List of Filipino Saints, Blesseds, and
Servants of God
- Roman Catholicism in Guam
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