Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will lead Filipino Catholics in a special tribute to Popes John XXIII and John Paul II Sunday as the two well-beloved leaders of the Catholic Church are canonized at the Vatican.
Of the two Popes, John Paul II is closest to Filipinos' hearts for his two visits to the Philippines, in February 1981 for the beatification of Lorenzo Ruiz, who would later become the first Filipino saint, and in January 1995 for the celebration of World Youth Day.
Tagle will celebrate a Mass at 4 p.m. at Smart-Araneta Coliseum, which Pope John Paul II declared a "colosseo of papal audiences" during his visit to the Philippines in 1981.
The faithful can also watch the canonization rites for the two Pontiffs at the Vatican before the Eucharistic celebration at the coliseum.
The event, called "Shepherds, Servants and Saints," is jointly organised by Araneta Center, Jesuit Communications and the Archdiocese of Manila.
According to organizers, the tribute is considered doubly meaningful, as Catholics are celebrating the Year of the Laity.
"John Paul II was known as the Pontiff who called everyone to holiness, regardless of stature in life. The Year of the Laity echoes Pope John Paul II's exhortation for everyone to be shepherds, servants and saints," the organizers said in a statement.
Call to holiness
Former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa said she believed the canonization of Pope John Paul II was a call for everyone to be holy.
"I think he is trying to show us that sainthood is not only exclusive to priests and nuns. He beatified and canonized a lot of holy people during his papacy to show us that we too can be holy. He wants us to realise that all of us can be saints," she said in an interview with reporters.
Among the country's church leaders who travelled to the Vatican for the canonization are Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar and Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes.
The canonization rites at the Vatican will also be shown live during a youth gathering at John Paul II Parish in Eastwood City.
Aside from the event in Araneta, other dioceses, like the Diocese of Legazpi in Albay and Diocese of Malolos in Bulacan, also prepared activities to celebrate the canonization of the two Pontiffs.
In Cebu City, a Mass will be celebrated at the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Pedro Calungsod at 6:30 p.m., to be followed by a candlelight procession to the life-size statue of Pope John Paul II at the Archbishop's Residence compound.
The late Cebu Archbishop Julio Cardinal Rosales had the statue made in September 1981 to commemorate John Paul II's visit to Cebu on Feb. 19 and 20 that year. The statue was repainted for today's big event in Rome.
Feast of Divine Mercy
Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson, rector of St. Pedro Calungsod Shrine, said Masses would be held at the shrine for three days starting Monday in thanksgiving for the two new saints.
Pope John Paul II beatified Pedro Calungsod in the Vatican on March 5, 2000. Pope Benedict XVI canonized Calungsod on Oct. 21, 2012.
At the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and in other parishes in Cebu, Masses will be celebrated today in honour of the two Popes in addition to the Mass marking the feast of the Divine Mercy, which was instituted by Pope John Paul II and celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.
In Bacolod City, Bishop Vicente Navarra will celebrate a thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of the two Popes at San Sebastian Cathedral this morning.
In the afternoon, the canonization rites at the Vatican will be shown live on wide TV screens set up at the public plaza.
The free public showing is part of the "Festival of New Saints" organised by the JPII Institute and GMA Network Inc. to celebrate the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II.