Hey, kids! Did you know that besides Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, another Filipino was named a saint a few years back? His name is Pedro Calungsod, and he used to be an altar boy. Now he is the patron saint of the Filipino youth!
Today, we tell you the story of how St. Pedro’s faith in God enabled him to bravely face his enemies. Read on!
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The young Pedro Calungsod was a sacristan and a catechist. Very little is known about him except that he was born around the year 1654 in the Visayan region. During that time, the Spanish Jesuits in the Philippines were training young boys to be catechists and assistants to the priests in their missions. When Pedro was just 13 years old, he joined a group of Jesuit missionaries and courageously left the Philippines to teach the natives in the Marianas Islands about the Catholic faith. However, life was difficult for the missionaries because the natives did not welcome their teachings. But despite this, Pedro and his companions continued to work hard and managed to convert many people.
Because of the many conversions, the natives who were not in favor of the missionaries began spreading rumors about them. They claimed that many baptized infants died because there was poison in the water used for baptism. In reality, many of the children who were baptized were of poor health and were near death. This “fake news” led to the persecution of the missionaries.
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On April 2, 1672, Pedro, who was now 17 years old, accompanied Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores to the village of Tomhom. They were told that a baby girl was recently born, so they went to ask the father, Matapang, to bring out the baby for baptism. An angry Matapang refused, saying he was fed up with Christian teachings. Padre Diego and Pedro gave Matapang some time to cool down—he was, after all, a friend of the missionaries. Instead, the two went to preach along a nearby shore. They invited Matapang to join them, but Matapang said no, and left for another village.
While Matapang was away, Padre Diego and Pedro baptized his baby girl with her mother’s consent. When he learned of the baptism, Matapang became even more furious and began hurling spears at Pedro, who at first nimbly avoided the sharp-tipped weapons. But eventually, an arrow struck the teenage boy in his chest, and he fell to ground. According to witnesses, Pedro still could have easily run off to save his life, but he refused to leave Padre Diego behind. After killing Pedro, the angry natives killed Padre Diego as well. They threw the bodies in the sea after tying large stones to their feet.
The other missionaries lamented their deaths. They looked back on Padre Diego’s life, and remembered Pedro as a virtuous and faithful assistant, and a good Catholic who—even in near death—proved to be a good soldier of Christ.
Pedro and Padre Diego became martyrs, or people who became saints because they died for their faith. Pedro’s story shows us that no matter how young we are, we can do great things to show our love for God. Today, Pedro is recognized as a brave young man who was willing to risk it all—even his life—to bring the Word of God to the world.