San Lorenzo Ruiz was a man of immense faith who lived and died for his unbendable conviction in the Lord.
That was how the first known Filipino canonized a saint was described at a Mass that drew an estimated 500 members of the archdiocese’s Filipino community to St. Patrick’s Cathedral Sept. 29.
The saint’s feast is Sept. 28.
Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto served as principal celebrant and homilist of the annual liturgy that honors the Philippines’ patron saint. He offered the Mass at the request of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who was the scheduled celebrant and homilist.
Sponsored by the archdiocese’s Filipino Apostolate, the liturgy commemorates life of the first Filipino martyred for his faith and his eventual elevation to sainthood.
The Mass was offered in three languages to reflect the multicultural influences of the Pacific Island nation: English; Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines; and Spanish.
“San Lorenzo was a hero and he was a role model for all people through his courage and inner strength,” Bishop Chappetto said. “He did not deny his faith; he was truly a man dedicated to the Catholic faith.”
Bishop Chappetto also called San Lorenzo courageous and reminded those in attendance they, too, are called to be saints, by their actions and through the grace of God.
Rudy Lumba, who regularly attends Mass at the San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel in lower Manhattan, shared with CNY of his family’s devotion to San Lorenzo. He said that he often prayed for the saint’s intercession as he recuperated from a stroke he suffered two years ago.
“We hold him in high honor…Growing up Catholic, I always held him with great reverence and heard his story many times as a child,” added Lumba, a native of Manila who has lived in New York for 40 years.
San Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Binodo, Manila. As a youth, Lorenzo was mentored by a Dominican priest in his hometown. He worked as a parish clerk and is said to have been a skilled calligrapher. In 1636 he joined a missionary group of four priests and one Japanese layman on a mission to Japan.
During the 17th century it was illegal to practice Christianity in Japan. As a result, Christians were persecuted; many were executed. Soon after landing in Okinawa, Lorenzo and his companions were arrested.
During his time in prison, Lorenzo was given the option of renouncing his beliefs in return for his freedom. He chose to defend his Catholic faith. That noble act led Lorenzo to endure torture tactics and eventually death in 1637.
Lorenzo was canonized Oct. 18, 1987, by Pope John Paul II.
Father Jose Marabe is director of the Filipino Apostolate, which oversees the Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz in lower Manhattan.