ROME - The countdown for the canonization of Pedro Calungsod and six others begins.
No less than Pope Benedict the XVI will lead in the canonization rites scheduled Sunday morning, October 21 at St. Peters Square.
The teenage missionary is actually the youngest among those to be canonized, probably between 16 and 18 years old at the time of his death, while protecting his superior, Jesuit mission priest Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores of Spain in Guam.
This was way back in 1672 while evangelizing the natives of Ladrones Island now called Marianas Island.
In fact, Calungsod will be canonized earlier than Fr. San Vitores who was beatified in 1985 by Pope John Paul II.
Calungsod will become the second Filipino saint, after Lorenzo Ruiz, who was canonized in October 1987.
The series of masses and other religious activities have started.
An art exhibit with the theme, “Evangelizing Presence of Filipinos in the World”, depicting photos of united Filipino communities in Rome opened to the public with Cebu Archbishop Cardinal Ricardo Vidal leading the ceremony.
Cardinal Vidal likened the life of Calungsod to that of many overseas Filipino workers who propagate the teachings of Christ in other countries.
The art exhibit will run for one week.
Rome-based Filipinos are looking forward to the canonization of Calungsod.
There are more than 5,000 Filipino pilgrims expected to be in Sunday's historic occasion.
They are mostly from Cebu, said to be the home province of Calungsod, although there are other information that suggest that the young mission worker could have hailed also in Bohol, Iloilo or Leyte.
Vice President Jejomar Binay will lead the Philippine delegation. With reports from Diego Evangelista and Jocelyn Ruiz ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau