This Filipino layman martyr saint could be rightly called the patron of infant baptism because it was after the baptism of an infant through his instrumentality that on 2nd April 1672 Pedro was martyred along with his companion missionary Fr. Diego San Vitores who baptised the infant. This infant was of a mother who got converted to Catholicism.
Pedro (Peter) Calungsod was a 17th century Filipino lay Catholic who preached Christianity in the United States territory of Guam, where he was martyred at the age of 17.
He was born on July 21, 1654, at Ginatilan in Cebu province of the Philippines. Little is known about his family, early life and how he went on to become a lay missionary.
Calungsod was a skilled sacristan and catechism teacher who became a companion of Spanish Jesuit missionary Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores. In Guam, he had primary education in a Jesuit-run boarding school and learned Spanish. He also developed skills for drawing, painting, singing, acting, and carpentry, to embolden his missionary activities.
Together with Father Vitores, Calungsod preached Christianity to the Chamorro people through catechism. They baptized infants, children and adults, defying the risk of persecution and murder. Their efforts saw many Chamorro convert to Catholicism.
On April 2, 1672, shortly after Calungsod and the priest baptized an infant, a mob enraged by anti-Christian propaganda attacked them. Choco, an influential Chinese man, hatched a plot to eliminate the missionaries. He instigated the islanders by saying that the missionaries had mixed poison with the baptismal water and wine used in the Holy Mass.
A spear thrown by a native pierced the layman’s chest, and he collapsed on the ground. Father Vitores was also killed shortly. The bodies of the martyrs were dragged to the sea and were disposed of the water after stones were tied to their feet.
Pope John Paul II beatified Calungsod March 5, 2000, in the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him on Oct. 21, 2012, making him one of the youngest saints of the Church.
The shrine of Saint Pedro Calungsod at Cebu City is a major Catholic pilgrimage site in the Philippines.
St. Pedro Calungsod is the patron of Filipino youth, catechists, catechumens and altar servers.
During his beatification, Pope John Paul II hailed the teenage martyr for his great example of faith.
“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,” the pope said.
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