Saint Lorenzo Ruiz is the first Filipino saint and martyr. He was born around the year 1600 in Binondo, Manila in the Philippines to a Chinese father and Filipino mother. He was raised Catholic and served his church as an altar boy and calligrapher. He also joined the Dominican Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary.
In 1636, Lorenzo was accused allegedly of murdering a Spaniard. To protect his safety at the time, he fled home and found refuge on board a ship with three Dominican priests and a leper. There are no details of this alleged crime other than a journal entry by two Dominican priests, that he joined their group to escape possible arrest. The ship departed the Philippines on June 10, 1636, bound for Okinawa.
At the time of their arrival, the rulers of Japan, the Tokugawa Shogunate, were persecuting Christians. Lorenzo was arrested by Japanese officials for the crime of being a Christian and ordered to recant his faith. When he refused he was imprisoned for two years. On September 27, 1637, Lorenzo and his companions were taken to Nagasaki to be tortured and killed if they would not recant their faith. Lorenzo and his companions were tortured by water, which was forced into their mouths and down their throats and out their noses and ears. Despite the painful torture, the men refused to do so. Following this, Lorenzo was hanged upside down, with a rope around his ankles. This method of torture was known as tsurushi, or "gallows and pit." The torture forces a person to be hanged upside down with a gash cut in their forehead to prevent too much blood from gathering in the head. The gash also causes the victim to bleed to death over an extended period of time.
Lorenzo refused to recant. According to the record of his death, his last words were, "I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God. Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him I shall offer. Do with me as you please."
Lorenzo was beatified by Pope John Paul II on February 18, 1981. The beatification ceremony was held in the Philippines making it the first beatification ceremony ever held outside the Vatican.His canonization took place at the Vatican on October 18, 1987.
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz is the patron saint of Filipino youth, the Philippines, people working overseas, and altar servers.
His feast day is September 28.