We almost didn’t make it, my team and I. We received our Schengen Visa just two days before our scheduled flight, and our plane tickets mere hours before takeoff. Everything, it seemed, was against our going to Rome to cover the historic canonization of the country’s second saint, San Pedro Calungsod. But with his intercession, things eventually fell into place. Letters of endorsement were signed, permits to shoot and Vatican media passes granted and most importantly, production funds released. All in the nick of time! Before we knew it, we were boarding a KLM flight to Rome, our hearts swelling with gratitude for being blessed with an opportunity of a lifetime.
On October 21, 2012, people lined up as early as four in the morning to witness the momentuous event at St. Peter’s Square. The boy Pedro, slain in the Marianas Islands because of his faith, was finally going to become a saint.
Aside from San Pedro, five other Beatos were also going to be canonized. They were:
1. Jacques Berthieu, a French martyr and priest of the Society of Jesus;
2. Giovanni Battista Piamarta, an Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth;
3. Maria del Carmen, Spanish Foundress of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching;
4. Marianne Cope, a German religious of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse, US;
5. Kateri Tekakwitha, an American laywoman and the first Native American saint; and
6. Anna Schaffer, a German laywoman.
Among the thousands of pilgrims present were of course Filipinos who made up 70% of the audience. Hailing from the Philippines and from all over the world, they crowded St. Peter Square, faces radiant and beaming with pride.
My team and I were stationed right at the steps fronting St. Peter’s Basilica.
But before the ceremony started, all of us were asked to go up the roof deck at the right side of the basilica. Dang!
When Pope Benedict finally made the announcement and mentioned the name ‘Pedro Calungsod’, the crowd was ecstatic! Philippine flags were waved and a soft chanting could be heard among them: “Viva San Pedro! Viva San Pedro!”
The ceremony ended with Pope Benedict riding his Pope-mobile to greet the audience at the square. A fine day indeed. And perhaps one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me so far.
Viva San Pedro!
To know more about San Pedro, visit http://www.pedrocalungsod.org/.