Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino
saint, was a simple layman who died as a martyr for the faith. His extraordinary fortitude in the face of sufferings is an
example that Christians must imitate.
Lorenzo was born in Binondo, Manila
on November 28, 1594. He was among the many Filipinos in whose veins blended the mixture of two oriental blood: Chinese from
his father and Filipino from his mother. Being of mixed parentage, he had the advantage over many children of his age for
he could speak both the language of his father and his mother. He studied Spanish from the Dominicans who were in charge of
the parish of Binondo, and from then he also learned the fundamentals of faith.
Lorenzo became an errand boy of
the friars and also a sacristan. When he grew older, he was employed as an “escribano”.
Lorenzo got married and was blessed
with three children. Having been brought up in a Christian atmosphere, he directed his family towards an abiding trust
and love of God. Lorenzo himself was a devout Catholic: he was a faithful Mass-goer, was am,ong the few who were encourage
to receive Holy Communion every first Sunday of the month, and was a great lover of the Virgin Mary. He joined the Confraternity
of the Holy Rosary and spent some of his precious time in spreading the devotion to Mary.
Lorenzo was a happy man. All he
dreamed of was to fulfill his obligations as a husband and father. But the serenity and peace he enjoyed was not meant to
endure. He accidentally quarrelled with a Spaniard and not long after he was accused of homicide. No one knew how true the
accusation was but Lorenzo feared for his life so he sought to escape from Manila.
As if to answer to his desire,
he learned that Dominicans were then preparing to embark on a mission in some place in the Orient. Lorenzo volunteered to
join the group and with a heavy heart bade goodbye to his loved ones. The friars who must have known the trouble he
was passing through did not hesitate to take him. Lorenzo’s intention, however, was to remain in Macao and there earn
a livelihood for his family.
The expedition was a clandestine
one because the missionaries were going to a forbidden place, and due to unknown political reason, they did not pass macao,
but sailed directly to Japan. It must be recalled that in those days Christianity in Japan was under seige. Christians
were hunted down, put to prison and executed. When Lorenzo became aware that his plans were thwarted and that he was headed
instead for another trouble,he was dismayed. But after some reflection, he changed his plan of working in Macao and decided
to be a missionary himself.
Upon arrival in Okinawa, the missionaries
set out to fulfilll their mission in the forbidden country. They proceeded secretly and cautiously. But the Japanese proved
more astute and clever. Not many days after their arrival, their presence was discovered and they were identified as believers
because of their good behavior and chaste conduct.