The Philippine Islands were discovered by Spain by explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. But it was in 1570 that Miguel de Legazpi that a Spanish settlement was built and the capital became Manila.
Through the influences of the Spanish Religious, many of the Filipino people were baptised into the Catholic Faith. The Philippines remained under Spanish control until the year 1815.
It was in 1655 that a young man was born, Pedro Calungsod, he lived for a time in the Visayas region, and it was here that the Jesuits touched this young man's heart.
And it was with the Jesuit Priests that the young Pedro learnt the Faith that he embraced with all his soul. He grew to love the Jesuit teachers and also reached out to his community as the more he learnt the more he wished to share with others.
Where Pedro lived could also prove to be very inhospitable, to those who wished to evangelise the region. They had to go through jungles and traverse huge cliffs as well as rivers and always with the threat of typhoons.
The Missions were doing well in teaching the Catholic Faith and baptising whole families into the Catholic Church, but wherever God's work is being done, there would be those who would try and disrupt this Mission and to try and destroy the Catholic Missionaries. One was a Chinese trouble maker, who planted stories among the villagers that the water used for Baptism was poisonous. This brought great fear to the village people as infant mortality was high due to unsanitary living conditions.
This lie would herald in a period of persecution to the Missions and those who supported the Catholic missionaries, such as the young Pedro, who truly loved and lived his Faith with great devotion towards our Blessed Mother.
But the persecutions were still thriving in the hearts of those who embraced the idea that the Catholics were to blame for anything that went wrong in their villagers and also if any sickness befell families. These erroneous ideas were able to gain a foothold due to the remaining superstitions that remained within many Filipino villagers.
Into this hotbed, the young Pedro who was about 17 years old and a Priest Diego De San Vitores travelled to the village of Tomhom on the island of Guam. And it was here upon hearing that a young baby was near death, both Pedro and Fr. Vitores requested that the baby be baptized this unfortunately began a sequence of events that would lead to a tragedy.
For the baby's father, Matapang had become an apostate and now denied the religion he had once embraced. And while Matapang tried to enlist other villagers to kill the Priest and his helper the young Pedro, it was during this absence that Fr. Vitores decided to baptize the young baby without the permission of Matapang.
Upon his return, Matapang was enraged that his wife had permitted the Baptism of his child, and took out his rage on Fr. Vitores and the young Pedro by hurling spears at them both. Pedro being so young was able to avoid getting hit by the spears but he refused to run and leave Fr Vitores behind. It was then that one of spears struck Pedro and he fell to the ground, where upon Pedro was hacked to death. Father Vitores as one of his last acts gave Pedro Absolution before he too was murdered.
Upon the death of these two holy men, both their bodies were mutilated and the Cross they wore was also desecrated by the enraged Matapang!
Pedro Calungsod died in 1672.
Blessed Pedro Calungsod was beatified in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
Peace of Christ to you ALL
Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.