St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions
Today's celebration honors a lay person from the Philippines, St. Lawrence Ruiz, and his fifteen companions. These sixteen martyrs were killed for their faith in 1637, in Nagasaki, Japan. Born in Manila, St. Lorenzo was the father of a family. He joined the Dominican priests, brothers and lay volunteers who were going to Japan to preach the Gospel. The group was made up of nine Dominican priests, two brothers, two single lay women, and three other lay persons. All were associated with the Dominican order and all died rather than give up their faith in Jesus. They were missionaries who had originally come from five nations-France, Italy, Japan, the Philippines and Spain. What a wonderful reminder they are that the Church reaches out to the whole world.
These martyrs suffered greatly before they died, but they would not give up their Catholic religion. It is recorded that St. Lawrence Ruiz told his judges that if he had a thousand lives to give for Christ, he would.
This group of heroes was proclaimed saints by Pope John Paul II on October 18, 1987.
Let us give thanks today for God's providential care for the Church, which continues in faithfulness to him, despite trials and persecutions.