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CEBU CITY - At least 5,000 Filipino pilgrims, many of them from Cebu and Cebuano-speaking provinces, are expected to attend the canonization rites for Blessed Pedro Calungsod at the Vatican on October 21.
The pilgrims will be led by some 200 priests, cardinals, bishops, and archbishops.
Calungsod is only the second Filipino, and the first from the Cebuano-speaking region, to be declared a saint by the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. The first was San Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila.
Thousands of Cebuanos are also expected to turn up along the procession and motorcade route for the send off of the image of Blessed Pedro Calungsod for Rome, Italy, on Tuesday, October 15.
The send-off activities are part of the final stretch of preparations for the canonization of the second Filipino saint at St. Peter's Basilica.
The image's flight out of Cebu will symbolize the many journeys taken by the teenage catechist who was killed for his faith in the Marianas Islands in the 17th century, said Duaw Lungsod Chairman Msgr. Marnell Mejia.
”The Calungsod saga is marked with voyages,” he said, referring to the journey of Calungsod aboard the galleon called San Diego, from Cavite to the Ladrones Islands, now known as Marianas Islands, where he was killed with Jesuit missionary Blessed Diego Luis de Sanvitores on April 2, 1672.
The voyage of Calungsod’s image on Tuesday will be more comfortable, since his image would be a passenger of a Cathay Pacific flight that will leave Cebu around noon.
Fr. Charles Jayme, the official custodian of the three-foot tall pilgrim image, will take the same flight, where they will be treated as VIPs.
The image will be enclosed in a red case lined with polystyrene and a white satin cloth. The case has handles for ease of transport.
Grace Ho, Cathay Pacific manager, said the container will be placed on the floor of a window seat and secured with a seatbelt.
She said the organizers complied with certain safety requirements, including the size and weight of the package.
The send-off procession on Tuesday will start at 4:30 a.m. from the Archdiocesan Shrine of Blessed Pedro Calungsod to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, where a mass will be celebrated by Msgr. Roberto Alesna at 5:30 a.m.
”This is the last farewell to Blessed Pedro. When he returns, he would already be San Pedro Calungsod,” he said.