PICTURE yourself in the bustling streets of Binondo, Manila. Amid the chaos and vibrance of city life, there exists a narrative that transcends time—a story of faith, courage, and unwavering devotion. Today, Catholics gather to celebrate the Feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz, an occasion that venerates the life and martyrdom of the first Filipino saint.
A Journey of Faith and Sacrifice
San Lorenzo Ruiz, born to a Chinese father and a Filipino mother in Binondo, embarked on an extraordinary journey marked by faith, persecution, and unwavering devotion, forever leaving his mark on history.
Saint Lorenzo’s early life was steeped in religious devotion as he served as an altar boy at Binondo church and received his education from Dominican friars. He later became an escribano and joined the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary, deepening his spiritual commitment.
However, tragedy struck in 1636 when Saint Lorenzo was falsely accused of murder, leading him to seek asylum in Okinawa, Japan, along with three Dominican priests. The timing of their arrival coincided with a period of intense Christian persecution under the Tokugawa Shogunate, which led to their arrest, imprisonment, and torture.
The ultimate test of faith awaited Saint Lorenzo and his companions when they were hung upside down over a pit on Nishizaka Hill, an attempt to force them to renounce Christianity. Saint Lorenzo remained steadfast despite the physical and emotional agony he faced, declaring, “I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God. Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him shall I offer.” He passed away on September 29, 1637, at the age of 42.
Saint Lorenzo’s unwavering faith and the sacrifices he made did not go unnoticed. Pope John Paul II beatified Lorenzo Ruiz during his historic papal visit to Manila on February 18, 1987. Just six years later, Saint Lorenzo achieved an even greater milestone: he became the first Filipino saint. Pope John Paul II canonized him on October 18, 1987, in Vatican City.
San Lorenzo Ruiz Finds Sanctuary in New York
In a momentous religious event happening this October 2023, a three-foot bronze statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz will be enthroned to its permanent abode within the hallowed halls of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. This statue was a gift from Eternal Gardens founder Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, which was sculpted by Eduardo Castrillo.
Father Erno Diaz, Chairman of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Global Ministry and founder of the Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz Movement in America, shared this event in an interview with CNN Philippines, emphasizing the importance of promoting devotion to the beloved saint.
Eternal Gardens’ Tribute to San Lorenzo Ruiz
Eternal Gardens, founded by the late Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, who played a significant role in Saint Lorenzo’s canonization, pays homage to the saint by establishing plazas in his honor within select parks. On this sacred feast day, Eternal Gardens branches in Baesa, Caloocan, Biñan City, Laguna, and Balagtas, Batangas City, each of which homes a plaza in honor of San Lorenzo Ruiz, will hold Thanksgiving Masses. Moreover, Eternal Gardens Lipa will unveil the San Lorenzo Ruiz Columbarium, providing a dignified resting place for cremated remains—a cost-effective alternative to traditional burial.
The San Lorenzo Ruiz Columbarium stands as a testament to the enduring influence of this beloved Filipino saint. It symbolizes unwavering faith and devotion, serving as a befitting tribute to a man whose unyielding belief continues to inspire and guide the faithful.