From 1633 to 1637 sixteen Martyrs shed their blood out of love for Christ in the city of Nagasaki, Japan. They included members and associates of the Order of Preachers: nine priests, two religious, two virgins, and three lay people, one of whom was Lawrence Ruiz, the father of a family from the Philippine Islands. All had, at different times and under varying circumstances, preached the Christian faith in the Philippines, Formosa, and Japan. They manifested the universality of the Christian religion and sowed the seed of future missionaries and converts.
Lawrence was born in Manila in the Philippines; his father was Chinese and his mother Filipino. He became associated with the Dominicans, and was a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. These Dominicans taught him Spanish, and from his parents he learned Chinese and Tagalog. He became a professional calligrapher and transcribed documents.
He married and had three children. In 1636, he fled the Philippines after being accused of murder. He joined a missionary group headed for Japan, where Catholics were being persecuted. It was soon found out that the members of this group were Catholic, so they were arrested and taken to Nagasaki. They were tortured for several days, first crushed while hanging upside down for three days, then the bodies were burned, with the ashes thrown into the Pacific Ocean on September 30, 1637. Pope John Paul II canonized these martyrs on October 18, 1987. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.
PRAYER: God, in our service to You and to our neighbor grant us the invincible patience of the holy Martyrs Lawrence and his companions. For those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake are blessed in the Kingdom of heaven. Amen.