Feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz

Fr. Andy Ortega Lim, rector and parish priest of the Binondo Church (San Lorenzo Ruiz Minor Basilica) in Binondo, Manila, will preside over a feast mass at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, in honor of San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint.

San Lorenzo Ruiz (Manila Bulletin file photo)

The holy mass will be streamed live via the minor basilica’s Facebook page. About 100 persons will be allowed inside the church (10 percent of its capacity).

Novena masses were held from Sept. 19 to 27. The first day of the novena on Sept. 19 coincided with the 425th founding anniversary of the Binondo Church.

Parish personnel said the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the bronze statue of San Lorenzo, which was a gift from Saint John Paul II who beatified the saint in Luneta on Feb. 18, 1981, has once again been cancelled this year.

Popularly known as the patron saint of the Philippines, Chinese-Filipinos, the Filipino youth, and overseas Filipino workers, San Lorenzo was born on Nov. 28, 1594 in Binondo to a Chinese father and a Filipino mother. He served as an altar boy at the Binondo Church and was educated by the Dominican friars for whom he worked as a stenographer (escribano).

San Lorenzo was an active member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. He was married to a Filipina who bore him two sons and a daughter.

In 1636, after being falsely accused of killing a Spaniard, he fled with Dominican missionaries to Japan at a time of intense Christian persecution. When they reached Okinawa, San Lorenzo and his 15 companions were brought to Nagasaki where they were horribly tortured. They were later brought to the Mountain of Martyrs where they were hung to die upside down into a pit.

San Lorenzo defied his tormentors by refusing to renounce his faith. When one of his tormentors asked, “If we let you live, will you renounce your faith?” His answer was, “That I will never do. I am a Christian and I will die for God. If I had a thousand lives, I will give all of them to Him and so, do with me as you please.”

According to accounts, San Lorenzo died from hemorrhage and suffocation on Sept. 29, 1637 at the age of 42. His body was said to have been cremated and his ashes were thrown into the sea.

Saint John Paul II, who beatified him at the Rizal Park in Manila, the first to be beatified outside the Vatican, called San Lorenzo “the most improbable of saints.” He canonized the first Filipino saint at the Vatican on Oct. 18, 1987.