MANILA, Sept. 3, 2012— Thousands of Filipinos want to witness the historic canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod on October 21 in Rome, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said.
Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said he already has endorsed 3,000 visa applications to Italy.
“In fact, the Italian Embassy wrote to me about it and said that I’m signing too many endorsements,” Palma said. “I said to them that it’s my duty to sign, it’s your duty to screen.”
The archbishop of Cebu made the statement during the closing of the 2012 National Convention of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines in Pasay City last Friday.
According to him, he was no longer surprised why many are interested in joining the occasion, saying that Calungsod’s canonization draws many people claiming to be the latter’s relatives.
“Over in Cebu we usually say sainthood is relative. If you become a saint you discover that you have many relatives,” he said in jest, drawing laughter from the audience.
Archbishop Palma cited an 85-year old man as an example.
“An old man who is 85 said I have to go to Rome, but his children said he is too weak. He said no, he is my relative I should go. His children were forced to accompany him,” he said.
Very little is known about Calungsod. Fr. Ildebrando Leyson, postulator and co-chairman of the Commission on Blessed Pedro Calungsod’s Canonization, said that Calungsod’s exact place of origin remains unknown.
The country’s soon-to-be-second saint was only identified as a teenage native of Visayas because baptismal records from the 1660s no longer exist.
Historical research identifies Ginatilan in Cebu, Hinunangan and Hinundayan in Southern Leyte, Iloilo’s Molo district and Loboc in Bohol as probable places of origin.
Palma added that a national celebration will be held in Cebu City on November 30 for those who could not go to Rome.
“That day, as a nation, we will thank the Lord for this new saint,” he said. RL/CBCPNews]