Saint Pedro Calungsod, also known as Peter Calungsod or Pedro Calonsor, is a young Filipino Catholic migrant canonized Saint by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. He was an altar server and a missionary catechist who migrated to Guam with Spanish Jesuit Missionary, Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores. There, along with Father San Vitores, Calungsod “suffered religious persecution and martyrdom”.
Early Life and Education
There were only a few details known about the early life of Saint Pedro Calungsod. Historical research identified his Visayan origins, merely identifying his name as “Pedro Calonsor, el Visayo”. Calungsod received formal education at a Jesuit boarding school in Guam. There, he as well mastered Catechism while learning to communicate in Spanish. Skills necessary for missionary work were also learned by Calungsod such as carpentry, painting, drawing, singing, and acting.
In 1668, at the young age of 14, Calungsod was among the young catechists chosen to accompany Spanish Jesuit missionaries to the Ladrones Islands, which had been renamed the Mariana Islands in honor of the Virgin Mary and Maria Ana of Austria, Queen Regent of Spain, the mission’s benefactress.
Young Pedro Calungsod accompanied Father Diego Luis de San Vitores to catechize the Chamorros in Guam. Through their perseverance in the mission, a significant number of Chamorro locals were baptized.
Mission and Martyrdom
The mission was not an easy task for the missionaries as provisions were not sent regularly and traversing through terrain and jungles in the area was difficult. In addition, devastating typhoons frequently hit the islands of Ladrones. Being in a foreign land, the missionaries also had a hard time adapting to the native culture of Chamorros.
A Chinese criminal from Manila named Choco who was exiled to Guam began to spread rumors that the baptismal water used by the missionaries was poisonous resulting in the death of some baptized sickly Chamorro infants. Natives who despised the missionaries supported the story such as the macanjas (medicine men) and the urritaos (young males). In the end, many of the Chamorros believed the rumors and blamed the missionaries.
On April 2, 1972, Calungsod and Father San Vitores came to the village of Tumon, Guam to search for their runaway companion, Esteban. Here, they learned of the birth of the daughter of Matå’pang, the village’s chief. They immediately came to baptize the child but Matå’pang, influenced by false rumors at that time, strongly opposed the baptism; hence they gave him some time to calm down. At the nearby shore, the missionaries gathered the children and some adults of the village and chanted the tenets of the Catholic faith. They tried to invite Matå’pang but he rejected and “shouted back that he was angry with God and was fed up with Christian teachings.”
A pagan named Hirao was tasked by Matå’pang to kill the missionaries. Though the latter initially refused as he thought of the kindness of the missionaries, he then gave in to the task after being provoked by Matå’pang calling him a coward.
While Matå’pang was away from his house, Father San Vitores and Calungsod baptized his daughter with the consent of his Christian wife. Matå’pang soon learned this and “became even more furious”. He soon attacked the missionaries with spears, Calungsod dodged the attack and could have escaped but he chose not to leave Father San Vitores. Calungsod could have fought as well with weapons considering his abilities however, Father San Vitores did not allow his companions to bear arms. He was then hit in the chest with a spear and fell to the ground; the villager Hirao soon charged him and killed him with a machete. Father San Vitores quickly absolved the young missionary before he too was killed. Persecutors then brought the missionaries’ corpses to Tumon Bay, dumping them with large rocks tied to their feet.
The Catholic Church considered the young missionary’s martyrdom as committed In Odium Fidei (‘In Hatred of the Faith’).
Beatification and Sainthood
Pedro Calungsod was beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 5, 2000. And on October 21, 2012, in celebration of World Mission Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI canonized him into sainthood. He is the second Filipino to be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church. His feast day is celebrated annually on April 2, commemorating the day of his martyrdom.
Saint Pedro Calungsod: https://www.jesuits.global/saint-blessed/saint-pedro-calungsod/
St. Pedro Calungsod: https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=7581
The Biography of Pedro Calungsod: https://pedrocalungsod.page.tl/Biography.htm