Pedro Calungsod

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Pedro Calungsod
Official portrait of Calungsod painted by a Jesuit priest
Lay Catechist and Martyr [1]
BornJuly 21, 1654
Molo, Iloilo or Ginatilan, Cebu, Captaincy General of the Philippines
DiedApril 2, 1672(1672-04-02) (aged 17) [2]
Tumon, Guam, Captaincy General of the Philippines
Venerated in Catholic Church
Beatified March 5, 2000, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II
Canonized October 21, 2012, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City by Pope Benedict XVI
Major shrine Cebu Archdiocesan Shrine of Saint Pedro Calungsod, Archbishop's Residence Compound, 234 D. Jakosalem St., Cebu City 6000 PH
Feast April 2
Attributes Martyr's palm, spear, bolo, Catechism book, Rosary, Christogram, Crucifix
Patronage Filipino youth, Catechumens, altar boys, the Philippines, Overseas Filipino Workers, Guam, Cebuanos, Visayans, Archdiocese of Cebu Pury, San Antonio, Quezon Province

Saint Pedro Calungsod (Latin : Petrus Calungsod, Spanish : Pedro Calúñgsod or archaically Pedro Calonsor, Italian : Pietro Calungsod; July 21, 1654 [3] – April 2, 1672), also known as Peter Calungsod and Pedro Calonsor, was a 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. [4]


While in Guam, Pedro preached Christianity to the Chamorro people through catechesis, while baptizing infants, children and adults at the risk and expense of being persecuted and eventually murdered. Through Pedro and San Vitores' missionary efforts, many native Chamorros converted to Roman Catholicism.

Pedro was formally beatified on March 5, 2000, by Pope John Paul II. Pedro was officially canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on October 21, 2012. [5]

Early years and missionary work

Queen Mariana of Austria, Regent of Spain, the benefactress of the mission to the Ladrones Islands. Coello - Mariana of Austria as a Widow.jpg
Queen Mariana of Austria, Regent of Spain, the benefactress of the mission to the Ladrones Islands.

Disputed origin

Few details of the early life of Pedro 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 [4] as possible places of origin; Loboc, Bohol also makes a claim. [6] Of these claims, the ones from Molo, Iloilo and Ginatilan, Cebu are considered the strongest.

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". [7] 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. However, American historian and scholar John N. Schumacher, S.J. disputes the Bisaya/Pintados dichotomy claim as at that time the Pintados were also referred to as Visayans regardless of location and said Pedro "was a Visayan" and may have been but doubtfully "from the island of Cebu" or "could have come any other Visayas islands." [8]

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 Calungsod's birthplace. 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. [9] Regardless of his precise origin, all four locations were within the territory of the Diocese of Cebu at the time of Pedro's martyrdom.

Training and arrival in Guam

In Guam, Pedro 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, Pedro, 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. Pedro accompanied the priest Diego San Vitores to Guam to catechize the native Chamorros. [10] 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. [11]


A Chinese 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 missionaries.

In their search for a runaway companion named Esteban, Pedro 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; [12] 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, Father Diego and Pedro 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 Pedro, who was able to dodge them. Witnesses claim that Pedro could have escaped the attack, but did not desert Father Diego. Those who knew personally Pedro considered his martial abilities and that he could have defeated the aggressors with weapons; Father Diego had however banned his companions to bear arms. Pedro 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. Father Diego quickly absolved Pedro before he too was killed.

Mata'pang took Father Diego's crucifix and pounded it with a stone whilst blaspheming God. Both assassins then undressed the corpses of Pedro and Father Diego, tied large stones to the feet, and brought these on their proas out to Tumon Bay, dumping the bodies in the water. [11]

The Catholic Church considers Pedro's martyrdom as committed In Odium Fidei ('In Hatred of the Faith'), referring to the religious persecution endured by the person in evangelization. [13] [14]


A month after the martyrdom of Father Diego and Pedro, a process for beatification was initiated but only for Father Diego. 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 Father Diego was rediscovered in old manuscripts and revived until he was finally beatified on October 6, 1985. This gave recognition to Pedro, paving the way for his own beatification. [15]

In 1980, then-Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal asked permission from the Vatican to initiate the beatification and canonization cause of Pedro. 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 Father Diego's beatification, was completed in 1999. [16]

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 Pedro. In January 2000, he approved the decree super martyrio (concerning the martyrdom) of Pedro, setting his beatification for March 5, 2000, at Saint Peter's Square in Rome.

Regarding Pedro's charitable works and virtuous deeds, Pope John Paul II declared: [17]

...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 missionary's side.


A 2012 stamp of the Philippines dedicated to the canonization of Pedro Calungsod Pedro Calungsod 2012 stamp of the Philippines.jpg
A 2012 stamp of the Philippines dedicated to the canonization of Pedro Calungsod

On December 19, 2011, the Holy See officially approved the miracle qualifying Pedro for sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church. [18] 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 intercession. [19] [20] [21]

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. [22] The pope set the date for the canonization ceremony to October 21, 2012, on World Mission Sunday, 340 years after Calungsod's death. [23]

On October 21, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonised Pedro in Saint Peter's Square. [24] 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, Pedro was the only one without a first class relic exposed for veneration since his body was thrown into the sea. The cutlass knife used to hack Pedro'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 Pedro received the Sacrament of Absolution from Diego Luis de San Vitores before his martyrdom and death.

After Saint Lorenzo Ruíz of Manila, Pedro is the second Filipino to be declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Martyrology celebrates Pedro's feast along with Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores every April 2, their dies natalis (heavenly birthdate). [25] 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.

Birthplace issue

Various 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:

In a 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 Pedro'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 Filipino-Spanish era.


Calungsod is often portrayed holding a Catechism book, notably the "Doctrina Christiana". Only known surviving copy by Fray Juan de Plasencia. Library of Congress, Washington D.C. Circa 1590's. Doctrina-cristiana.jpg
Calungsod is often portrayed holding a Catechism book, notably the "Doctrina Christiana". Only known surviving copy by Fray Juan de Plasencia. Library of Congress, Washington D.C. Circa 1590's.

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. [26]

Pedro 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.

In art

The first portraits of Pedro Calungsod were drawings done by award-winning artist, sculptor, and designer Eduardo Castrillo [27] in 1994 for the Heritage of Cebu Monument in Parian. A bronze statue of Pedro 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 1999 respectively. [28]

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 Pedro. [29] 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 Pedro 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 Pedro 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 Pedro 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 Pedro. 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.

In film

Pedro 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.

Places and things named after Calungsod



Educational institutions


See also

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  12. ''Interea, illa infans puellula, christiana eius matre consentiente, sacramentali baptismatis lavacro est abluta.'' Translation: In the mean time, that an infant girl, Christian with the consent of her mother, cleansed by the washing of sacramental baptism. Retrieved on June 25, 2016.
  13. ''Pietro Calungsod, catechista, che per odio verso la fede cristiana furono uccisi e gettati in mare da alcuni apostati e seguaci locali di superstizioni pagane.'' Translation: Peter Calungsod, catechist, due to hatred of the Christian faith was killed and thrown overboard by some apostates and followers of local pagan superstitions. Retrieved on June 25, 2016.
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