Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz


Feast Day: September 28

Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Binondo, Manila on November 28, 1594.  His father was Chinese and his mother Filipino.  During his youth, Lorenzo was educated by the Dominican Fathers and from them he learned the fundamentals of faith.  He became the errand boy of the friars and was an altar boy at Binondo convent.  As he grew older, he was employed as their "escribano" because of his skillful hand.

Lorenzo is a devout Catholic and was a great devotee of the Blessed Virgin.  He was blessed with two sons and a daughter and had a happy and harmonious married life.  Things changed, however, when he found himself being accused of a crime he did not commit after having an argument with a Spaniard. Fearing for his life, he sought to escape and when he learned that the Dominicans were preparing to embark on a mission to Japan, he joined the group.  He bade goodbye to his loved ones and left the Philippines with a heavy heart.

The expedition was a clandestine one for the Christians were hunted down, persecuted and put to death in Japan at that time.  His intention, at the start was to remain in Macau to earn a living for his family.  But St. Lorenzo Ruiz changed his plan and decided to be a missionary instead.  Not many days after their arrival in Okinawa, the missionaries were arrested and thrown into prison. Two years after, they were brought in a torture chamber in Nagasaki. There they suffered incredible torture as they were hung by their feet and were submerged in water which brought some of his companions to recant their faith. There were beaten and needles were inserted inside their finger nails while they were being questioned.

"If we grant you your life, are you willing to renounce your faith?"

To this St. Lorenzo Ruiz answered:

"I am a Christian and this I profess, and although I did not come to Japan to become a martyr, I am now willing to give up my life for God. You can do with me as you will please."

On September 1637, muzzled and hand tied the prisoners marched to the place of execution.  Saint Lorenzo Ruiz was hanged head down inside a small pit called a 'horca y hoya'.  Only his limbs were seen from above the ground.  To slow down the flow of blood, he was bound and his flesh slightly cut.  For three days, his torturer left him this way. Their bodies were burned and the ashes were thrown into the sea.

He and his companions were beatified by Pope John Paul II during the Papal visit to Manila on 18 February 1981.  He was canonized on October 18, 1987.

 He is recognized as the first Filipino Saint and Martyr.

Reflections:

Anyone can be a saint. Saint Lorenzo Ruiz or more known to Filipinos as San Lorenzo Ruiz is an ordinary man.  Just like us, he simply wants to have a happy, peaceful, harmonious life.  However, his circumstances changed and he was thrust into a situation so complicated.   Yet, even if he didn’t want what was happening in his life, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz faced it with unwavering courage and unyielding faith and trust in God.  In the end, he willingly gave his life to a God who is truly deserving of all Saint Lorenzo Ruiz can offer.

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz encourages us to never lose faith and to always trust in God no matter what.  Surely, God was with him during those terrible last days and though his body was suffering, his soul found happiness, peace and assurance that his suffering was not in vain.

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