Cardinal Vidal recounts Calungsod’s journey to canonization

CEBU City—If there is anyone who has accompanied most closely St. Pedro Calungsod’s journey towards canonization —from near anonymity to become the Philippines’ second saint—it is Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal. 

Addressing guests at the Cebu International Convention Center on November 30, Cardinal Vidal recounted the twists and turns in St. Pedro Calungsod’s journey to official sainthood.

The 81-year old cardinal could only clarify that when people say the canonization happened because of him, he would reply,”No, it’s Divine Providence.”

As Calungsod’s story unfolded, apparently, Divine Providence would also appoint a human agent for his cause in the person of Cardinal Vidal.

Cardinal Vidal recounted that during the Synod of 1985, the Archbishop of Guam invited him to attend the beatification of Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, the priest Calungsod died with in 1672.

Then Guam Archbishop Felixberto Flores told Cardinal Vidal he would also give him “pertinent documents” about a “possible candidate” when he comes for the beatification. It was then that Cardinal Vidal would first read about the martyr from the Visayas who accompanied the Jesuit missionary.

Special endorsement 

Fast forward to 1999, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, wrote to all bishops asking for documentation on possible martyr candidates for beatification. The Cardinal complied, thinking immediately of the beatification cause of Calungsod. He then presented a petition letter for Calungsod to the Holy Father for his consideration. Right there and then, the Holy Father wrote on the margins of the petition, endorsing it to the Prefect of the Congregation of the Saints. This is why barely five years since Calungsod’s cause was introduced, Cebu’s martyr was already beatified, in March 2000.

A similar “heavenly intervention” happened this year for the canonization when the Cardinal asked  the Congregation of the Saints when Calungsod’s documents could be inspected.

Smiling and amused, Cardinal Vidal remembered how he was shown two big volumes, containing lists of those whose canonizations were pending. He was shown clearly that then Blessed Pedro Calungsod was far down the list.

In an unexpected turn of events, the Holy Father would agree that Pedro Calungsod would be a perfect candidate for canonization because of the declaration of the Year of Faith.

The all-but-forgotten martyr was eventually declared a saint last October 21, together with six others. [Aaron Veloso/Nirva'ana Ella Delacruz]