On September 28 the Catholic Church celebrates the martyrdom of St. Lawrence Ruiz, a Filipino layman who died for the faith in Japan.
The Vatican website provides a short biography, as well as naming him the “Protomartyr of the Philippines.”
Born in Binondo (Manila) of a Chinese Father and a Filipino mother, he received his education from the Dominicans, becoming a member of the Rosary Confraternity. He married and fathered three children. Becoming involved in some obscure incident with bloodshed, he joined the missionary expedition in order to escape. He was arrested and endured all kinds of tortures until his death. He thus becomes the Protomartyr of the Philippines.
Protomartyr simply means “first martyr.” His death occurred in 1637, shortly after the Catholic faith arrived in the Philippines.
St. John Paul II gave an address to Filipino pilgrims who came for St. Lawrence’s canonization in 1987, exhorting them to follow his example.
St. Lorenzo Ruiz calls Philippine Catholics of today to uphold and strengthen their nation’s baptismal consecration. His example urges you to meet the challenges of the present with the same strength of character and trust in God with which he faced the supreme test of love. In a special way, St. Lorenzo Ruiz calls Philippine families to grow in dignity, harmony and responsibility as the “domestic Church, where each one learns to be at the service of all, witnessing to the sanctity of human life at every stage and in every condition. For all of this we must pray to God through the intercession of Mary, for whom you have such great devotion, and through the intercession of the newly canonized martyrs.
St. Lawrence remains a powerful example for all Filipino Catholics and a steadfast intercessor.