Ruiz served as an altar boy at the Binondo Church. After being educated by the Dominican friars for a few years, Ruiz earned the title of escribano (calligrapher) 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.
In 1636, whilst working as a clerk for the Binondo Church, Ruiz was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard. Ruiz 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 layleper Lázaro of Kyoto. Ruiz and his companions sailed for Okinawa on 10 June 1636, with the aid of the Dominican fathers.
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, with a red sash indicating his status as a martyr, in the convento of St James the Apostle Parish, Plaridel, Bulacan.
The Tokugawa Shogunate was persecuting Christians by the time Ruiz 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, Ruiz and his companions were taken to Nishizaka Hill, where they were tortured by being hung upside-down over a pit. 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, Ruiz 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, Ruiz 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. Ruiz 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. Ruiz was canonized by the same pope in the Vatican City on 18 October 1987, 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, St. Lorenzo Ruiz celebrated his 30th anniversary of his canonization by Archbishop 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.