Lorenzo Ruiz had a normal, happy life, a beautiful wife, a loving family, and a simple faith.
But everything was about to change.
Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Lorenzo was forced to flee his hometown forever.
Born in Manila, Philippines in 1594, the half-Chinese, half-Filipino Lorenzo Ruiz grew up an ordinary Catholic. He was educated by Dominicans, served as an altar boy, and participated regularly in parish and community life.
Lorenzo married a lovely woman, Rosario, with whom he had three children.
The Ruiz family had no idea that their peaceful life was about to be turned upside down.
When a false accusation of murder was made against Lorenzo, the loving husband and father was forced to leave his family and found refuge with three Dominican priests. The group fled the Philippines and set out for Japan, accompanied by a Japanese priest, Vincente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a Japanese leper named Lazaro.
But danger lurked in Japan as well. At the time, Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate who persecuted Christians with immense cruelty, filling the land with martyrs and torturing others until they lost their minds or apostatized.
Within months, the group was captured. Imprisoned and tortured, Lorenzo and his companions were offered freedom on one condition: they must renounce their Faith.
Despite suffering unimaginable pain and cruelty, Lorenzo and his companions remained steadfast in their faith. Many times, the men were about to forsake their Faith, but they drew upon each other’s strength and witness and stayed strong.
At one point, the unspeakable suffering almost became too much for Lorenzo to bear. Despite nearly apostatizing, Lorenzo suddenly found himself filled with otherworldly courage and became bold in the face of his torture.
When it was clear that these men were willing to suffer through the cruelest physical and psychological torture for their Faith, their tormentors realized they must be killed, and in the worst manner imaginable…
The men were tightly bound to stop blood flow—except they were left with one unbound arm, with which they could signal their apostasy—and they were hung over pits.
The men hung for three days. During these three days, Lorenzo was transformed from an ordinary husband and father into a saint and martyr, filled with the Holy Spirit, and willing to die for his Faith. “I am a Catholic,” he said, “and I wholeheartedly accept death for God. If I had a thousand lives, I would offer them all to Him.” He died in the pit on September 28th or 29th, 1637, together with Lazaro. The three priests tortured with them were beheaded.
Together, in imitation of Christ and strengthened by His sacrifice, these men testified to the truth until the end.
We are all called to follow the example of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and his saintly companions. The classic book The Imitation of Christ is the perfect spiritual tool to help fortify you with the strength of Christ. Along with St. Lorenzo, you too can grow to a greater imitation of Christ’s sacrificial love. Available today at The Catholic Company!