Saint Lorenzo Ruiz – First Filipino Saint and Martyr
Feast Day: September 28
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II
Canonized By: Pope John Paul II
Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Binondo, Manila, around 1600. The exact date of his birth is unknown since the baptismal records of the church of Binondo were destroyed. Lorenzo had a Chinese father and a Filipino mother.
During his youth, he learned Spanish from the Dominican priests, whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He was exceptionally gifted with beautiful penmanship and became a professional calligrapher, earned the title of “escribano” who transcribe baptismal, confirmation and marriage documents into the church’s official books. Lorenzo was also a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, which was organized by the Dominicans in the Philippines when they arrived in 1587.
Lorenzo married a woman named Rosario. The happy couple had three children, two sons and one daughter.
In 1636, a grave crime was committed in Manila. Authorities conducted a manhunt for Lorenzo because they believed he knew something about the crime or was involved in it. To protect his safety at the time, he fled home and found refuge on board a ship with three Dominican priests, a Japanese priest and a leper.
Only when they were on the ship did Lorenzo learn that the missionaries were headed for Japan, to teach the people there about Jesus. At the time of their arrival, the rulers of Japan, the Tokugawa Shogunate, were persecuting Christians to prevent the spread of Christianity. When the boat landed at Okinawa, the group was arrested and imprisoned on basis of their Christian religion.
Lorenzo was imprisoned for two years and went through agonizing torture when he refused to renounce his faith. He was told that he would be put to death if he did not renounce his faith, Ruiz told them, “I will never do it. I am a Catholic and happy to die for God. If I have a thousand lives to offer, I will offer them to God.”
Pope John Paul II beatified Lorenzo Ruiz during the Papal visit in Manila on February 18, 1981, at Luneta Park. He was canonized on October 18, 1987, at the Vatican in Rome.
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz is the patron saint of Filipino youth, the Philippines, people working overseas, and altar servers.
Lorenzo Ruiz’s feast day falls on September 28.
For more information: Story of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz: Stories of Saints for Kids - EP84