Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions, martyrs
The saint of the day for September 28 is Saint Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637), a husband and father, the first saint of the Philippines and the first Filipino martyred for the Christian Faith. He and 15 others were martyred at Nagasaki, Japan in 1637. The group included two consecrated women, two other laymen, two brothers and nine priests.
Lorenzo Ruiz was born at Binondo, Manila, Philippines to a Chinese Father and a Filipino mother who were both Catholic. Educated by the Dominicans, he was a devoted and active Catholic, a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, and a third order Dominican. He was a husband and father of two sons and a daughter.
In 1636, while working as a clerk for the Church, Lorenzo was falsely accused of murder and forced to leave his country. The Dominican fathers who knew Lorenzo arranged to have him take a ship to Japan. Soon after arriving in Japan, Lorenzo was captured for being Catholic and brought to Nagasaki, where he was tortured. He was promised a safe journey back to his family if he renounced his faith, but he refused. He was tortured for days and finally murdered on September 29, 1637 by a notorious Japanese torture tool known as “the pit.” Their bodies were crushed while hanging upside down for three days, then they were burned. The ashes were thrown into the Pacific Ocean.
On February 18, 1981, Lorenzo Ruiz became the first person beatified outside the Vatican, when Pope St. John Paul II beatified him in the Philippines. He and his companions were canonized on October 18, 1987, in Rome. Saint Lorenzo is patron saint of the Philippines and the Filipino people.
When government officials asked, “If we grant you life, will you renounce your faith?” Lorenzo replied: “That I will never do, because I am a Christian, and I shall die for God, and for him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so, do with me as you please.”
Grant us, we pray, Lord God, the same perseverance shown by your Martyrs Saint Lawrence Ruiz and his companions in serving you and their neighbor, since those persecuted for the sake of righteousness are blessed in your Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.