Vice President Jejomar C. Binay will lead the Philippine contingent to the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod on Oct. 21 at the Vatican City in Rome.

The Vice President will represent President Benigno S. Aquino III and witness Pope Benedict XVI install the country’s second saint.

The first Filipino saint, Lorenzo Ruiz, was canonized on Oct. 18, 1987.

“It is an honor to lead my fellow Filipino Catholics in witnessing this historic event. Blessed Pedro Calungsod’s life was one of service and I pray that his dedication and sacrifice will inspire the Filipino youth to live their lives in service of their fellowmen,” he said.

“I join the people of Cebu and the entire nation in this most joyous occasion and pray that the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod will further strengthen our faith in the Almighty and our unity as a people,” he added.

Calungsod was a teenage Cebuano catechist who accompanied Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores in Tumhon village in Guan, Marianas, where they were killed on April 2, 1672.

He was beatified in March 2000 by Blessed Pope John Paul II.

The canonization rites for Blessed Calungsod and six others will begin with a holy mass at Saint Peter’s Square. Vespers and a procession of the new saints’ icons will be held at the Chiesa di Santa Pudenziana later in the evening.

According to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), over a thousand Filipinos will fly to the Vatican to witness the canonization rites.

After the canonization, Binay, who is also the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ Concerns, will meet members of the Filipino community in Italy at the Pontifico Collegio Filippino.

“In all my trips abroad, I always make it a point to meet with our kababayans to personally hear from them their concerns and to assure them that our government is always looking after their welfare,” he said.

The Vice President will also attend the 8 a.m. thanksgiving mass to be celebrated on Oct. 22, the day after the canonization at the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Celebrations will also be held in Cebu after the canonization, with the Cebu Archdiocese expecting more than a million pilgrims to attend.

Processions in all parishes of Cebu City and a fluvial procession of Calungsod’s statue along the Mactan Channel are being set, along with a film festival similar to the Sto. Niño de Cebu film festival during the Sinulog.

The town of Ginatilan in Cebu, the hometown of Calungsod, has also created a committee to trace the Calungsod family tree.

The President earlier issued Proclamation No. 481, declaring Oct. 21 as a national day of celebration on the canonization of Calungsod.

Meanwhile, before going to Rome, the Vice President will be attending the 2012 European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels, Belgium on Oct. 16-17.

Organized by the European Commission, the EDD is Europe’s premier forum on international affairs and development cooperation.

The Vice President is also set to meet Jose Manuel Durao, president of the European Commission, for a bilateral discussion of common interests between the Philippines and Europe.

Among the key points that Binay is expected to discuss with Durao is the recently signed framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the creation of the Bangsamoro entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.