Most Filipino Catholics recognize the name San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, the first Filipino saint. He was also known as Lorenzo de Manila, born in Binondo, Manila between 1600 and 1610 to a Chinese father and Tagalog mother. He was an altar boy and was educated by the Dominican Fathers. San Lorenzo Ruiz was a layman, with two sons and a daughter.
This statue of Lorenzo de Manila is located at the open field near Quirino Grandstand across the Rizal monument.
The caption at the statue’s base reads: “Si yo tuviera miles de Vidas las daria por mi fe." The on-line Spanish-English translation is "If I had thousands of lives, I would give for my faith." This was part of his declaration while being tortured and his tormentor taunted him that his life would be spared if he would renounce his faith.
"That I shall never do, because I am a Christian and I shall die for God, and for Him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so do with me as you please." ~ Lorenzo de Manila
In 1636, Ruiz was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard. He sought asylum on board a ship with Dominican priests bound for Okinawa, Japan. By the time they arrived in Japan, the Tokugawa shogunate was persecuting Christians and the missionaries were consequently arrested and thrown to prison. Ruiz and his companions went through different types of torture---needles were inserted inside their fingernails, they were beaten unconscious; they were hung by their feet and submerged in water until some of his companions recant their faith.
On September 27, 1637, Ruiz and his companions were taken to the Nishizaka Hill. There, he was hung upside down into a pit---this form of torture was known as tsurushi in Japanese or horca y hoya in Spanish. This was the most painful way to die in those times and involved using rocks to add weight to the person until the tortured person suffocates and is crushed from their own weight. After two days, Lorenzo Ruiz died from bleeding and suffocation. His body was cremated and his ashes were thrown to the sea. He never recanted his love and faith in God. Source
Lorenzo de Manila was beatified by Pope John II during the Papal visit to Manila on February 18, 1981. Saint Lorenzo Ruiz was elevated to sainthood and received canonization on October 18, 1987 by Pope John Paul II in Rome. He is recognized as the first Filipino saint and martyr.
I feel sad for this tattered marker. I feel sad for those who suffered, who are still suffering and persecuted because of their faith, political allegiance, and ethnicity.
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