Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Why the San Pedro Calungsod Shrine is ‘Beautiful’

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — It is the shrine of the very first Visayan saint, San Pedro Calungsod. This chapel found in the Archbishop’s Residence compound along D. Jakosalem Street.

Finished and consecrated about two years after the beatification of Pedro Calungsod in 2000, the Cebu Archdiocesan Shrine of San Pedro Calungsod is unmistakenly the sacred place where the heritage of the saint from the Visayas is cultivated and nurtured.

From the facade to the frieze inside the chapel to the design of the altar down to the details of the architecture and the interior design, the shrine palpitates with the life and legacy of the young martyr.

Certain details, however, catches the eye and interest of the faithful, or even just the culturally-inclined. First and foremost is the altar, which depicts the theophany of the Holy Trinity, with the tabernacle as the centrepiece, with its huge golden rays and fire-colored glass with the name of Jesus. Interestingly, the tabernacle is revealed after Eucharistic celebrations are over, for the panels bearing the monogram of the Most Holy Name of Jesus are opened.

One also notices symbols of Calungsod’s martyrdom, especially the palm branch to mean triumph through martyrdom, or votive offerings, that proliferate inside the shrine.

One should note that the image of San Pedro Calungsod on the left side of the altar is an original painting of the official image of the saint, done by Rafael del Casal. The other image of San Pedro Calungsod, the free-standing one enclosed by a glass case, down by the communion rail on the left side, contains a stone. Located at the foot of the image, it is a portion of an old rock at Tomhon beach in Guam, a silent witness of the missionary-catechist’s martyrdom on April 2, 1672.

After the altar, one would be drawn next to the altar table which holds a reliquary. A bronze box, containing corals and sand from Tomhon, Guam, could be seen. The box also bears a piece of the cassock of San Diego Luis de San Vitores, the Jesuit priest whom Calungsod was accompanying and was martyred with. Behind the box lies a replica of the catana (cutlass), the weapon used to finish off San Pedro after being speared.

For certain, the shrine is a feast for the eyes. And it is one of the reasons why Fr. Allan Delima, the present rector of the shrine, at the same time of the Spiritual Pastoral Formation Year (SPFY) of local seminarians, has decided to include the shrine in this year’s “GabiisaKabilin.”

“If we adhere to the philosophy of the Greeks of what is ‘true, good and beautiful’, the Church has perfected itself by adhering to the truth and the good… this time we focus on the beautiful. And that includes heritage and culture. I’d like our seminarians to be introduced to this,” said Fr. Delima.

SPFY has now opened its Spirituality Center, which offers training and short term courses on spirituality. The first of its trainings is for altar servers of parishes in Cebu, wherein the sacristans are given a holistic and integrated values formation.

“We want the shrine and SPFY to be available… and San Pedro Calungsod more known to more people,” Fr. Delima added.

Tomorrow, May 25, “GabiisaKabilin” night, the shrine will not only be opened to visitors; there will also be an exhibit of Calungsod memorabilia and a 15-minute production emphasizing and establishing the characteristics of San Pedro Calungsod as characteristics of Filipino boys in pre-Hispanic period.

GabiisaKabilin opens the doors of 27 participating museums and sites from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight to visitors with the P150 ticket. The theme of this year’s “GabiisaKabilin” is “Balangay,” a tribute to Cebu’s pre-colonial culture and in preparation for the 500th anniversary of Magellan’s arrival and Chistianization of the Philippines. – HaideePalapar, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI)


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