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Philippines gets second saint, a teen martyr

VATICAN CITY--Pope Benedict XVI canonized the Philippines' second saint on Sunday, giving one of the church's top honors to the 17th-century teen martyr Pedro Calungsod before throngs of Filipinos in St. Peter's Square.

Cheers went up in the crowd of about 80,000 when Benedict declared Calungsod a saint and worthy of veneration by the entire Catholic Church. Benedict named six other saints Sunday, some of them missionaries like the devout boy from central Cebu province.

Many Filipino faithful are particularly devoted to Calungsod, who as a teenager went with some Spanish Jesuit missionaries to Guam in 1668 to convert the Chamorros people. He was killed when the natives resisted.

“May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!” Benedict said in his homily.

Rome's Filipino expat community came out in droves for the canonization, including Marianna Dieza, a 39-year-old housekeeper who said it was a day of pride for all Filipinos.

“We feel very happy and proud,” Dieza said. “We are especially proud because he is so young.”

Filipino Vice President Jejomar Binay arrived in the Italian capital last week to head the government delegation for the Mass, saying the canonization was particularly important to the Philippines, Asia's largest predominantly Roman Catholic country.

Thousands of Filipinos at home celebrated Calungsod's sainthood with Masses, processions, stage plays, religious shows and the launching of postal stamps bearing his image and a map of his journey as a young Catholic missionary to the Pacific islands, where he was killed while spreading his faith.

“This is a day of great spiritual joy and national pride,” Philippine President Benigno Aquino III's spokeswoman, Abigail Valte said. “We join the Catholic world on this day of solemn commemoration and celebration.”

Celebrations across the Philippines were centered in Manila, the capital, and in Cebu's town of Ginatilan. Large screens were installed in church compounds to allow Filipinos to watch Calungsod's canonization at the Vatican. Calungsod's portraits were displayed in churches and many bought and carried his statues.

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A statue and poster of Pedro Calungsod are pictured, left, on the stage in San Juan in suburban Manila, Sunday, Oct. 21, as actors re-enact and celebrate the life and times of ...

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