Saint Lorenzo is patron saint of, among others, the Philippines and Filipinos.
Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Binondo, Manila to a Chinese father and a Filipino mother who were both Catholic. His father taught him Chinese while his mother taught him Tagalog.
Ruiz served as an altar boy at the convent of Binondo church. After being educated by the Dominican friars for a few years, Ruiz earned the title of escribano (calligrapher) because of his skillful penmanship. He became a member of the Cofradia del Santissimo Rosario (Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary). He married Rosario, a native, and they had two sons and a daughter. The Ruiz family lead a generally peaceful, religious and content life.
The Tokugawa shogunate was persecuting Christians by the time Ruiz had arrived in Japan. The missionaries were arrested and thrown into prison, and after two years, they were transferred to Nagasaki to face trial by torture. He and his companions faced different types of torture. One of these was the insertion of needles inside their fingernails.
On 27 September 1637, Ruiz and his companions were taken to the Nishizaka Hill, where they were tortured by being hung upside down a pit. This form of torture was known as tsurushi (釣殺し) in Japanese or horca y hoya in Spanish. The method was supposed to be extremely painful: though the victim was bound, one hand is always left free so that victims may be able to signal that they recanted, and they would be freed. Ruiz refused to renounce Christianity and died from blood loss and suffocation. His body was cremated and his ashes thrown into the sea.
According to Latin missionary accounts sent back to Manila, Ruiz declared these words upon his death:
"Ego Catholicus sum et animo prompto paratoque pro Deo mortem obibo. Si mille vitas haberem, cunctas ei offerrem."
"Isa akong Katoliko at buong-pusong tinatanggap ang kamatayan para sa Panginoon. Kung ako man ay may isanlibong buhay, lahat ng iyon ay iaalay ko sa Kanya."
The Positio Super Introductione Causae or the cause of beatification of St. Lorenzo Ruiz was authored by respected historian, Fr. Fidel Villarroel, O.P., which led to his beatification during Pope John Paul IIs papal visit to the Philippines. It was the first beatification ceremony to be held outside the Vatican in history. San Lorenzo Ruiz was canonized by the same pope in Vatican City on 18 October 1987, making him the first Filipino saint.
The miracle that led to his canonization took place in 1983, when Cecilia Alegria Policarpio, a 2-year-old girl suffering brain atrophy (hydrocephalus) was cured through the intercession of the family and supporters to Lorenzo Ruiz. She was diagnosed shortly after her birth and was treated at Magsaysay Medical Center.
St. Lorenzo Ruizs image is included among the images by John Nava of 135 saints and blessed from around the world in the Communion of Saints Tapestries which hangs inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.
On 28 September 2007, the Catholic Church celebrated the 20th anniversary of Ruizs canonization. Manila Cardinal Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales said: “Kahit saan nandoon ang mga Pilipino, ang katapatan sa Diyos ay dala-dala ng Pinoy (Wherever the Filipinos may be, they bring with them their loyalty to God).”
Also the school San Lorenzo Ruiz elementary school in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada was named after Lorenzo.
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