Calungsod canonization sparks rush
Archbishop flooded with requests for visa help
At least 3,000 people have asked for an endorsement from Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu to get a visa to Italy and attend the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod next month. Archbishop Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said he has signed so many endorsements, the Italian embassy in Manila has contacted him. "They said, Archbishop you are signing too many endorsements," he said. "I said to them, it’s my duty to sign, it’s your duty to screen." Archbishop Palma said he is not surprised that thousands of people want to attend the ceremony. "Over in Cebu, we usually say sainthood is 'relative.' If you become a saint, you discover that you have many relatives." He cited an 85-year old man in Cebu who said he wanted to go to Rome, but his children told him he was too weak. But the man insisted that Blessed Calungsod is a relative. "So now his children have to accompany him," said Archbishop Palma. Historical records, however, do not mention Blessed Calungsod's exact place of origin. He is identified only as Bisaya, which refers to a native of Borneo. Conflicting research theories state that the future saint may have come from one of several places: Ginatilan in Cebu, Hinunangan and Hinundayan in Southern Leyte, the Molo district of Iloilo, or Loboc in Bohol. The Cebu prelate said the Filipino faithful who cannot get to Rome can attend a national celebration in Cebu on November 30. "That day, as a nation, we will thank the Lord for this new saint," Archbishop Palma said. Blessed Calungsod was born in 1654. He was doing missionary work in Guam in 1672 when he was killed. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000 and will be proclaimed a saint on October 21, 2012, in the Vatican.