Caceres celebrates Archdiocesan Patron, St. Peter Baptist
The Archdiocese of Caceres will celebrate the feast of the patron saint, St. Peter Baptist on Sunday, February 7, 2021.
A great but little known saint, illustrious leader of 25 protomartyrs who were executed on the cross in Nagasaki, Japan, on February 5, 1597, Titular Patron of the Archdiocese of Caceres, St. Peter Baptist is one of three saints hailing from the diocese of Avila.
The life of San Pedro Bautista
San Pedro Bautista is a model saint for us. He is a missionary who has stepped on our land and lived with our forefathers in the early communities in Bikol and the Philippine Islands.
He was born in San Esteban, Avila, Spain; he joined the Franciscan Order at the age of twenty in the Convent of San Andres del Monte de las Villas de Arena; he studied philosophy and theology in Salamanca, Spain and he gained fame as a preacher in the Cathedral of Toledo, Spain. He volunteered for an expedition to Mexico in 1581.
He was sent to the Philippines as Commisary Visitor for the Franciscans in the Island. He preached the word of God, taught music, and brought together the people, both children and adults, and formed them into Christian communities.
He was the spirit of the founding of the towns of San Bartolome de Bao (Baao), Buhi and Libmanan (in Camarines Sur today), and Cagsawa, Oas and Ligao (in Albay).
San Pedro Bautista, before his martyrdom in Japan, has already lived his life fully as a Franciscan missionary. But God has greater plan for him, when he was sent to Japan to be ambassador to the emperor who threatened to invade the Philippines. He succeed not only in forging a treaty of friendship and alliance with Japan, but more importantly, obtained permission for the friars to again teach their religion, build their churches and establish themselves comfortably. For three years, the friars laboured zealously spreading the faith with much success. But they soon aroused the envy of some locals who started misinforming the minds of the government officials against the Christians. San Pedro Bautista and the other missionaries (6 Franciscans, 3 Jesuits and 167 laymen) were sentenced to die on the cross.
It was on February 5, 1524, (423 years ago), when San Pedro Bautista won the crown of martyrdom in Japan at the age of 55. Together with the other witnesses of faith, he was last to be crucified after having seen the others die for their faith, in the mountain of Tatayema, now known as Holy Mountain, overlooking Nagasaki.
The seed was the blood of Christians
“The Blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church” said Tertullian in defending Christianity (Apologeticus, Ch 50). Through the faithful witnessing of our first fathers we enjoy today the gift of our faith. And the life of the Church is continuously propelled by the witnessing of those who faithfully follow Christ even to the point of shedding blood in witness to faith. San Pedro Bautista and the other martyrs present to us the kind of life that is so rich and found only in giving everything for the Kingdom of God.
Today when we strive to find for meaning of our life as Church, we look at the life of these martyrs who reflected the very life of Christ. These martyrs are witnesses of faith. And as witnesses, they bear the truth of Christ in their lives. Like Jesus who offered His life for his friends, San Pedro Bautista and his companions, have sowed in our soil in Bikol the seeds of their sweat and blood, to make our Church alive today.
What a joy to know that the Church is founded on the sacrifices of those who witness to their Faith in Christ! What a joy it is to know the love of Christ Jesus, who offered his life as a ransom for us all! This is the Church, a community of love we can call our home.