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 Cofradia del Santísimo Rosario (Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary). He married Rosario, a native, and they had two sons and a daughter. The Ruiz family led a generally peaceful, religious and content life.
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, with a red sash indicating his status as a martyr, in the convento of St James the Apostle Parish, Plaridel, Bulacan.
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.
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.
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.)
Cause of beatification and canonization
The Positio Super Introductione Causae or the cause of beatification of Lorenzo Ruiz was written by the respected historian, Fidel Villarroel. Lorenzo was beatified during Pope John Paul II's papal visit to the Philippines. 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 18 October 1987 among the 16 Martyrs of Japan, making him the first Filipino saint.
A mosaic of St. Lorenzo is found in the Trinity Dome of Mary's National Shrine in Washington DC.
On 28 September 2017, the 30th anniversary of Lorenzo's canonization was celebrated in the Archdiocese of Manila.
In popular culture
Film and theatre
Ang Buhay ni Lorenzo Ruiz, a 1970 Philippine religious biographical film
Lorenzo Ruiz... The Saint... A Filipino!, a 1988 Philippine film
Lorenzo, a musical staged in September 2013, by Green Wings Entertainment, with music by Ryan Cayabyab, book and lyrics by Juan Ekis and Paul Dumol, with the collaboration of Joem Antonio, direction by Nonon Padilla, and production by Christopher de Leon.
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)