MANILA, Sept. 29, 2012—Right at the threshold of Calungsod’s canonization, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal revealed for the first time how unexpected ‘acts of Providence’ prepared the way for the Philippines’ second saint.
Talking at a symposium on September 28 to celebrate the culmination of National Laity Week, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu shared how, without God’s intervention, the Philippines would probably still be waiting for Calungsod’s beatification until today.
“There were books from the floor all the way to the ceiling,” Cardinal Vidal said, describing the documents and books on more than 3,000 candidates for beatification waiting for screening and approval in the Vatican in 1994.
Earlier, Cardinal Vidal had submitted a book written by Fr. Juan Ledesma, SJ on Calungsod to put the young, mostly unknown martyr in the running for the scheduled beatification in 2000.
But seemingly even Fr. Ledesma’s extensive research on Calungsod’s life and virtues, which took him from Spain, to Mexico, to Guam and Manila, would not be enough to support Calungsod’s case for beatification.
There was a glimmer of hope when then Pope John Paul II wrote all the bishops to submit new candidates’ names for beatification.
At some point, Cardinal Vidal got a chance to present the name of “his candidate” to the Holy Father himself.
When Pope John Paul II saw the name, he looked at Cardinal Vidal and asked, not hiding his curiosity, “A Filipino?”
Cardinal Vidal said the turning point for Calungsod’s beatification was when Pope John Paul II himself scribbled an “endorsement” of sorts on the margin of Calungsod’s document, telling the congregation in charge of the screening to “attend to this”.
True enough, Pedro Calungsod would go on to be beatified in 2000.
The process of canonization appeared to be another hurdle with 400 candidates on the wait list for canonization last year, many of whom were, according to Cardinal Vidal, were “big names in the Church” like Blessed Mother Theresa and Blessed John Paul II.
“Siyempre mauuna ang malalaking pangalan (For sure, the big names will be prioritized,” he said to himself at the time.
But the Cardinal, who talked to a packed auditorium in UST today, said, he remembers someone telling him, “No, no, you have little faith.”
He would go on to discover that Pope Benedict XVI would declare 2012 as a “Year of Faith” and Calungsod’s profile would fit the profile of a passionate person engaged in the transmission of the faith, which the Church wanted to promote.
This October 21, Calungsod will be canonized in Rome. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]