Hundreds of Catholics attended the raising of the tasseled red hat of the first Filipino cardinal to the rafters of Manila Cathedral on Sept. 3. The raising of late Manila archbishop Cardinal Rufino Santos'
"galero" was led by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who celebrated Mass before the ceremony. "We want to thank God for entrusting to us Cardinal Santos," said the Manila prelate as he also thanked the family of the late cardinal for "sharing [him] with the wide family of the church." Cardinal Tagle praised his predecessor for the numerous projects he initiated during his lifetime, especially the reconstruction of Manila Cathedral after World War II. "This beautiful cathedral, we owe to Cardinal Santos," said the current Manila archbishop. "He knew it was not his talent. It was God's. But what an enterprising steward Cardinal Santos was," he added. "I do not envy Cardinal Santos for having survived the challenges during his time, a time of war," said Cardinal Tagle. Father Reginald Malicdem, rector of Manila Cathedral
, said the raising of the "galero" was done to honor the memory of the late prelate and to recognize his efforts in rebuilding the cathedral in 1958. "This is a call for the church to continue this legacy and mission of rebuilding lives and of strengthening one another in faith and charity," said the priest. The galero is a red hat decorated with tassels that was used by cardinals in the past as a symbol of the responsibility given to them. The color red symbolizes their readiness to shed blood for the Gospel. Although the use of the galero was abolished in 1969, the tradition of suspending the hat in the cathedral church to honor a dead cardinal continues to this day. When Cardinal Jaime Sin
died in 2005, a galero was acquired and has since been hanging from the dome of Manila Cathedral. Cardinal Santos' galero used to hang in the cathedral but it fell some years back. It was recently discovered in the cathedral's stock room. The late cardinal served as archbishop of Manila from 1953, when the country was still recovering from the horrors of World War II. In the midst of the destruction brought about by the war, his leadership focused on rebuilding and fortifying structures to address the urgent needs of the church in the country.
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He established Catholic Charities, the predecessor of Caritas Manila, the social action arm of the archdiocese. He also started Radio Veritas, founded the Asian Social Institute, built the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary, and the Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome. During the Japanese occupation of Manila, the late Cardinal Santos, who was a priest at the time, saved the life of then Manila archbishop, Michael O'Doherty by volunteering to be imprisoned on the archbishop's behalf. The priest was in jail from Feb. 4, 1944, to Feb. 5, 1945 and endured torture. The liberation of Manila by the Americans began days before he was scheduled to be executed. He became an auxiliary bishop of Manila in 1947 before becoming archbishop in 1953. He received the red hat from Pope John XXIII in 1960 and became the first Filipino cardinal. He died at age 65 in 1973.