St. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first Filipino to be canonized as a Saint.

Not too much is known about the early life of Lorenzo Ruiz. He was born sometime between 1600 and 1610, in Chinatown -- Binondo, Manila. His parents were both devout Catholics. His father was Chinese, while his mother was a Filipina.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz was educated by the Dominicans; he was a sacristan when he was a child, and as a young man worked as a scribe for the Dominican priests. He was married, and had three kids, two boys and a girl.

In 1636, Ruiz was implicated in a murder, and to escape a manhunt, he sought asylum in a ship that was leaving Manila (We do not know the circumstances of the murder, or Lorenzo's part in it, if any). Once the ship sailed, Lorenzo found out that it was bound for Japan, carrying missionaries at a time of great persecution of Christians. The ship was making one stop in Formosa (now Taiwan), but fearing the Spanish authorities there, Lorenzo stayed with the missionaries.

The missionaries landed at Okinawa, and were soon exposed. The Japanese proceeded to torture the missionaries, trying to get them to renounce their faith. Lorenzo Ruiz proved to be most stubborn, refusing to recant in the face of great torture. When told that he would be put to death if he did not renounce his faith, Lorenzo said: "I'm a Christian and I will remain a Christian even to the point of death.  Only to God will I offer my life.  Even if I had a thousand lives, I would still offer them to Him."

Finally, Lorenzo and four other companions were brought to the hills of Nagasaki to be executed. He was hung upside down from a beam into a pit. The pit was then sealed with rocks and mortar, and Lorenzo Ruiz was left to bleed and slowly suffocate to death. Lorenzo died after two days, on September 29, 1637.

For his martyrdom, St. Lorenzo Ruiz was canonized by John Paul II on the 18th of October 1987. His feast day is on September 28.


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