Honoring St. Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila and its companions is a yearly activity of St. Lambert Parish in Skokie, Illinois. But who is St. Ruiz? Take a look at this article from the Newsletter of the District of Asia of the Society of St. Pius X
A Filipino Who Dared: St. Lorenzo Ruiz, Martyr (+1637), Oct-Dec 2001
Our saint was born in the outskirts of the walled city of Manila called Binondo and was baptized sometime between 1600 and 1610, given the name Lorenzo Ruiz.
As a child, he worked in the convent of the Dominican Fathers as a helper and an altar boy. He was then educated by the Dominicans and later was hired as a secretary and calligrapher of the convent. He became a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. He got married and had two sons and a daughter. Lorenzo Ruiz is an active parishioner involved in church services and activities, and having a fervent Marian devotion especially towards the recitation of the Holy Rosary.
In 1636, he was accused of being involved in a criminal case and the civil authorities sought him for questioning and trial. Knowing the prejudices of certain officials, he dreaded the trial or mistrial. He sought to escape for his life and decided to leave the country with a group of Dominican priests and a Japanese layman who were leaving Manila, thinking that they were going to Macao. There, in that Portuguese colony, he hoped to find a living as a calligrapher. But, the missionaries were not heading Macao but to the land of martyrs, Japan!
Christianity was forbidden in Japan by an edict of the military dictator Tokugawa Yeyasu, Shogun of the empire in 1614, expelling all missionaries and catechists, and forbidding the profession of the Christian faith. From that year until 1636, the Catholics in Japan were subjected to one of the most cruel and devastating persecution of the Church.
The reason why Christians were persecuted
“The followers of Christ, arriving unexpectedly in Japan, not only came here carrying their goods, but also, without any permission, have spread and propagated their wicked law, destroying the good and legitimate one and plotting to overthrow authority in the country. This is the beginning of great calamity, which we should avoid by all means. Japan is a Shintoist and Buddhist country, which venerates the gods, honours Buddha, and respects the ‘way of benevolence’ (Confucius).
The followers of the Fathers (the Christians) have all disobeyed the orders already given by the government despising religion…and destroying the good. They are overjoyed when they see those about to be executed; they run after them wherever they go and adore them … Such is the supreme ideal of this religion. Unless it is suppressed immediately, endless misfortunes will fall on the State. In all the regions of Japan, all these Christians should be eliminated without any delay … If anyone dares contravene this order, he will be put to death …… (Extracts of the 1614 Edict, substantially alike those of 1633, 1636).
Lorenzo Ruiz arrived in Nagasaki on September 21, 1637. At this time, Lorenzo entered Japan still without the slightest intention – as he latter confessed to his judges – of becoming a martyr.
They were arrested and taken to the tribunals of the governors of Nagasaki. During one of Ruiz’ interrogations, a judge asked him a question if he will denounce his faith. The response was categorical and immediate: “That I will never do, because I am a Christian, and I shall die for God, and for Him I will give many thousand lives if I had them. And so do with me as you please.”
On September 27, Lorenzo and his companions were withdrawn from their prison to be executed. They were paraded along the streets of Nagasaki, on horseback, hands tied and muzzled with the motive of death sentence announced by placards. They were taken to Nichizaka Hill, outside the city, where they had to undergo the final torture of the “gallows on the pit”.
On September 29, 1637, the judges wishing to go on a hunting trip ordered their ministers to extract the five victims and have them beheaded. Lorenzo and Lazaro were already found dead. The three priest were then beheaded. Their bodies were set on fire and the ashes carried out of the Nagasaki Bay and thrown into the sea near the little island of Io-Jima, to prevent their veneration by the Christians.
Three months latter, the news of his death arrived in Manila and was received with extraordinary enthusiasm. Moved by religious fervor, a big crowd of people assembled in the Church of San Ignacio in commemoration of the martyrdom of the Jesuit Father Marello Mastrilli, also martyred in Japan. They then proceeded to Santo Domingo, led by the religious authorities, including Archbishop Hernando Guerrero, and by the civil authorities. In both churches a solemn “Te Deum Laudamus” (Ambrosian Hymn or A Song of the Church) was sung in praise of God for the triumph of the Christian faith in Japan.
Lorenzo Ruiz and his 15 companions were beatified by Pope John Paul II in Manila on February 1981. This was the first beatification held outside of Rome. They were later canonized by the same Pontiff in Rome on October 18,1987. Their Feast Day is September 28.
The Nichizaka Hill, the place where San Lorenzo Ruiz, his 15 companions and countless Christians were exectuted is called Martyrs’ Hill. Today, a church, museum and bronze monument stand atop Nishizaka Hill to commemorate the martyrs and all those faithful Christians who followed them. Pope John Paul II visited the site in 1981 and named it “Resurrection Hill.”
Read the full article of the Society of St. Pius X
Read the full article from the Vatican.va