St. Lorenzo Ruiz (circa 1600-1637)
First Filipino Martyr
St. Lorenzo Ruiz was a lay brother, a member of the Confraternity of the Rosary. Life was good with his wife and three children until Ruiz faced a false allegation of murder. He fled to Japan with Dominican priests in 1636.
This was the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate’s persecution of Christians. Ruiz and the other members of the missionary band who refused to renounce their faith died painfully for it. At the tribunal (which followed torture) the momentarily frightened Ruiz asked if renunciation of faith would spare his life. Then he gathered his faith and courage during the translation process. He proclaimed, “I am a Christian.” Japanese authorities burned him, hung him upside down, beheaded him, and threw his body into the sea. Sixteen others met their fate for Jesus, also.
Pope John Paul II beatified Ruiz in 1981 and canonized him six years later.
This is not an original thought, but it is a good one: If being a Christian were a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth. Inspire us with the memory of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and the other martyrs of Japan, whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.