Over 1 million attend mass for Calungsod

Devotees carry the image of Saint Pedro Calungsod during the procession on Friday around Cebu for the national thanksgiving mass to celebrate his recent canonization.

CEBU CITY—President Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday led other government officials and more than a million devotees in the National Thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod.

Four cardinals, 54 bishops and archbishops and some 700 priests from at least seven countries concelebrated the Mass held in a small temple built on the reclaimed South Road Properties.

The Thanksgiving Mass also drew devotees from more than 140 parishes in Cebu who braved the blistering sun and the long wait to join the procession to the temple.

In his Homily, Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal extolled the virtues of St. Pedro Calungsod and urged the faithful to make him an example of love, courage and obedience to God.

“Let (our) faith empower us to be faithful followers of Jesus and dutiful citizens of our country. Let us no longer live (in) dual citizenship, (being) good Christians but bad citizens. Such duality cannot exist. If we have to be Christians, let us be good citizens as well as observing every just law, practicing justice in all our affairs (and) being honest in word and in deed,” said the 81-year-old prelate.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma had asked Vidal to lead the Thanksgiving Mass since the cardinal was widely acknowledged as being the prime mover behind Calungsod’s canonization.

“Let our laws be directed to serve (the) common good as well as to the ultimate good, forming us to be good citizens in this country as well as the other life,” Cardinal Vidal added.

As early as 6 a.m., devotees started to converge at the fish port in Talisay City, Cebu and at the Basilica del Sto. Niño in downtown Cebu City, for the 5 p.m. Mass. Most of them joined the procession to the temple since the SRP had been closed to traffic since 10 p.m. of Thursday, and only vehicles with passes issued by the Archdiocese of Cebu could get through.

Also allowed to pass were the 18 shuttle buses that ferried people to the Mass and at least 20 golf carts and three electric cars from Mandaue City that were used to transport the elderly and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).

Amid the sea of people were 76 carrozas gaily decked in flowers from different parishes.

In nearby Mandaue City, the boat called San Diego left port at 2 p.m. to bring the three-foot wooden statue of St. Pedro Calungsod to SRP. The boat was remodeled to resemble a 17th century galleon and traveled in a fluvial procession with at least 35 other sea craft.

Among those who joined the fluvial procession were Felisa Juanico, a 59-year-old teacher, husband Federico and six others, including their children, in-laws and grandchildren, who came all the way from Biliran province on board a Navy Forces Central patrol gunboat commissioned to help secure the fluvial parade.

Juanico, a member of several church groups, said she came to ask St. Pedro Calungsod’s intercession so that youngsters who come to her Catholic ministries would heed her counsel.

At about 2:30 p.m., the devotees and their carrozas made their entrance to the 27-hectare SRP field to await the arrival of the image.

Security was tight at the site where 12 LCD screens were mounted to allow devotees to see the altar.

At half-past 3, the San Diego dropped anchor some 200 meters from the SRP port where the image was lowered onto a “proa,” the canoe-like boat from where natives of Guam threw the bodies of the teenage catechist and Fr. Diego de San Vitores after they were speared in the island on April 2, 1672.