ucanews.com reporter, CebuUpdated: December 03, 2012 07:24 PM GMT
The gathering of at least half a millon people in Cebu City last Friday in honor of Saint Pedro Calungsod was a celebration of a young man's testament of love and sacrifice for his friends more than 300 years ago, a Cebu prelate has said.
Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, archbishop emeritus of Cebu, said the martyrdom of Saint Pedro Calungsod was a challenge for Christians to emulate.
The teenage Visayan martyr lived an exemplary life and was killed for his faith in a foreign land. "A life nipped in the bud but is now in full bloom," said Cardinal Vidal, who led the celebration that was attended by Church and government leaders.
Calungsod, who was 16 or 17 years old when he joined the Jesuit mission in Ladrones islands, now called the Marianas islands, was killed by indigenous islanders on April 2, 1672.
"There is no greater love than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends," said Vidal, quoting the Gospels. "Today, we honor a life brought out in love – love that is rooted in faith," he added.
President Benigno Aquino described Friday’s thanksgiving Mass as the embodiment of the Filipinos’ pride and gratitude for the canonization of the Visayan martyr.
"He chose to give his life to fulfill his duties as a missionary. In that particular moment of uncertainty, his faith in God becomes his pillar of strength," the president said.
Aquino said Calungsod’s life and martyrdom gives a “sense of selfless sacrifice for faith and principle, an outward offering of oneself for the greater good.”
He added: “These are the same principles we are called to uphold in our era. May the life of San Pedro Calungsod continue to be the guide and inspiration of our nation … together, let us remain ardent in our pursuit of the true Catholic way of life.”
Apostolic Nuncio Giussepe Pinto reminded the people to follow Calungsod's example "to make the decision to become disciples and proclaim the faith."
Four cardinals, 54 bishops and archbishops and some 700 priests from at least seven countries concelebrated the Mass.