Lorenzo Ruiz

Lorenzo Ruíz (Filipino: Lorenzo Ruíz ng Maynila; Chinese: 李樂倫; Spanish: Lorenzo Ruíz de Manila; November 28, 1594 – September 29, 1637), also called Saint Lorenzo of Manila, is a Filipino saint venerated in the Catholic Church. A Chinese-Filipino, he became his country's protomartyr after his execution in Japan by the Tokugawa Shogunate during its persecution of Japanese Christians in the 17th century.

Lorenzo Ruíz of Manila
First Saint and Protomartyr of the Philippines
BornNovember 28, 1594
Binondo, Manila
Captaincy General of the Philippines
DiedSeptember 29, 1637(1637-09-29) (aged 42)
Nagasaki, Hizen Province, Tokugawa Shogunate
Venerated inCatholic Church
BeatifiedFebruary 18, 1981, Manila, Philippines by Pope John Paul II
CanonizedOctober 18, 1987, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II
Major shrineBinondo Church, Binondo, Manila, Philippines
FeastSeptember 28
AttributesRosary in clasped hands, gallows and pit, Barong Tagalog or camisa de chino and black trousers, cross, palm of martyrdom
PatronageThe Philippines, Filipinos, Overseas Filipino Workers and migrant workers, immigrants, the poor, separated families, Filipino youth, Chinese-Filipinos, Filipino Altar servers, Tagalogs, Archdiocese of Manila.

Lorenzo Ruíz is the patron saint of, among others, the Philippines and the Filipino people.

Early life

Binondo Church, the main shrine of San Lorenzo Ruíz

Lorenzo Ruíz was born in Binondo, Manila, on 28 November 1594, to a Chinese father and a Filipino mother who were both Catholic. His father taught him Chinese while his mother taught him Tagalog.[1][2]

Lorenzo served as an altar boy at the Binondo Church. After being educated by the Dominican friars for a few years, Lorenzo earned the title of escribano (scrivener) because of his skillful penmanship. He became a member of the Cofradía del Santísimo Rosario (Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary). He married Rosario, a native, and they had two sons and a daughter.[3] The Ruiz family led a generally peaceful, religious and content life.

In 1636, whilst working as a clerk for the Binondo Church, Lorenzo was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard. Lorenzo sought asylum on board a ship with three Dominican priests: Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet, and Miguel de Aozaraza; a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz; and a lay leper Lázaro of Kyoto. Lorenzo and his companions sailed for Okinawa on 10 June 1636, with the aid of the Dominican fathers.[1][2][4]


Depiction of tsurushi.

The Tokugawa Shogunate was persecuting Christians by the time Lorenzo had arrived in Japan. The missionaries were arrested and thrown into prison, and after two years, they were transferred to Nagasaki to face trial by torture. The group endured many and various cruel methods of torture.[3]

On 27 September 1637, Lorenzo and his companions were taken to Nishizaka Hill, where they were tortured by being hung upside-down over a pit. He died two days later on 29 September 1637, aged 42. This form of torture was known as tsurushi (釣殺し) in Japanese or horca y hoya ("gallows and pit") in Spanish. The method, alleged to have been extremely painful, had the victim bound; one hand was always left free so that the individual may signal their desire to recant, leading to their release. Despite his suffering, Lorenzo refused to renounce Christianity and died from eventual blood loss and suffocation. His body was cremated, with the ashes thrown into the sea.[1][2][4]

According to Latin missionary accounts sent back to Manila, Lorenzo declared these words upon his death:

Ego Catholicus sum et animo prompto paratoque pro Deo mortem obibo.
Si mille vitas haberem, cunctas ei offerrem.

(I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God;
Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him shall I offer.)[3]


Cause of beatification and canonization

The Positio Super Introductione Causae or the cause of beatification of Lorenzo Ruíz was written by Spanish historian Fidel Villarroel. The central document found to exhibit Ruíz's martyrdom was an eyewitness account by two Japanese ex-priests from the Society of Jesus, rediscovered by Villaroel at the Jesuit Generalate archive in Rome, an unlikely location as Ruíz was of the Dominican order.[5] Lorenzo was beatified during Pope John Paul II's papal visit to the Philippines in 1981.[6][7][8] It was the first beatification ceremony to be held outside the Vatican in history. Lorenzo was canonized by the same pope in the Vatican City on October 18, 1987 among the 16 Martyrs of Japan, making him the first Filipino saint.[1][2][4]


His canonization was supported by a miracle in October 1983, when Cecilia Algeria Policarpio of Calinog, Iloilo, was cured of brain atrophy (hydrocephalus) at the age of two, after her family and supporters prayed to Lorenzo for his intercession. She was diagnosed with the condition shortly after birth and was treated at University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center.[9]

Other tributes

Lorenzo Ruíz is included in American painter John Nava's Communion of Saints Tapestries, a depiction of 135 saints and beati which hangs inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California.[10]

On September 28, 1997, the 10th anniversary of Lorenzo's canonization was celebrated.

On September 28, 2007, the Catholic Church celebrated the 20th anniversary of Lorenzo's canonization. Then-archbishop of Manila Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales said: "Kahit saan nandoon ang mga Pilipino, ang katapatan sa Diyos ay dala-dala ng Pinoy." ("Wheresoever Filipinos are, the Pinoy brings fidelity to God.")[11]

A mosaic of San Lorenzo is found in the Trinity Dome of Mary's National Shrine in Washington DC.

On September 28, 2017, the 30th anniversary of Lorenzo's canonization was celebrated in the Archdiocese of Manila.

In popular culture

Film and theater


  • Carunungan, Celso Al. To Die a Thousand Deaths: A Novel on the Life and Times of Lorenzo Ruiz, Social Studies Publications, Metro Manila, Philippines, 1980.
  • Delgado, Antonio C. The Making of The First Filipino Saint, The Ala-Ala Foundation, 1982.
  • Villaroel, Fidel "Lorenzo de Manila: The Protomartyr of the Philippines and His Companions", UST Publishing, Inc., 1988
  • Dela Peña, Rev. Ordanico "The Birth of the Catholic Philippines in Asia: Includes the Lives of San Lorenzo Ruiz and Blessed Pedro Calungsod", Xlibris Corp., 2000
  • Diaz, Emo "On The Road With San Lorenzo", UST Publishing, Inc., 2005
  • Tan, Susan "The Martyrdom Of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, Pauline Publishing & Media, 2007
  • Tan, Susan "Martyred: The Story Of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz", Pauline Publishing & Media, 2014


  • Canonization of Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz TV Special Coverage (PTV 4, 1987)
  • Saint Lorenzo Ruiz: The Life, A 1st Filipino Saint Documentary Special (PTV 4, 1987)

See also


  1. "Visit of Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to Participate in the 2005 World Summit – High Level plenary session of the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, United States of America, 12–15 September 2005", Press Kit, Office of the President, Government Mass Media Group, Bureau of Communications Services, Manila, September 2005.
  2. Religion-Cults.com Dominguez, J, M.D., September 29: Saints of the Day, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions, 1600–1637, Religion-Cults.com, retrieved on: June 10, 2007
  3. Foley O.F.M., Leonard. Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M), Franciscan Media
  4. Filipino Apostolate/Archdiocese of New York, Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz, ChapelofSanLorenzoRuiz.org Archived November 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved on: June 9, 2007
  5. Carunungan, Celso Al. (June 26, 1987). "Sainthood at last!". Manila Standard. Standard Publications, Inc. p. 4. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  6. azheepineda. "UST Archives director Fr. Fidel Villarroel, O.P. : Master key to UST's past". Skyrock.
  7. "2-volume UST history charts evolution of higher education in the Philippines". inquirer.net.
  8. "UST historian named Master of Theology". The Varsitarian.
  9. The Pinoy Catholic. "The Pinoy Catholic: St. Lorenzo Ruiz". thepinoycatholic.blogspot.com.
  10. "Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels". olacathedral.org.
  11. "Roxas may slide down for Poe, says LP" (TXT). Newsinfo.inquirer.net. Retrieved May 17, 2015.[permanent dead link]