Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, c. 1600-1637
Sometimes Christians are faced with extreme situations in which our faith is so challenged that our lives may be at stake. This was the case with Saint Lorenzo Ruiz of the Philippines who lived in the early 1600s. When he was younger, he served as an altar boy and later was a helper and clerk-sacristan in his parish Church. As an adult, he was a member of the Confraternity of the Rosary. To support his family, he worked as a calligrapher, handwriting documents in neat penmanship.
In 1636, he was accused of a serious crime. While proclaiming his innocence, he fled the Philippines because he was afraid he would not get a fair trial. He traveled by ship with four priests and a layman. They landed on the island of Okinawa, which was under Japanese rule.
The Japanese rulers didn’t like the Christians. Lorenzo and his companions were taken to Nagasaki, Japan, and brought before the authorities. They were given the choice of renouncing their faith or being executed. All six of them refused to give up what they believed in.
Lorenzo and the others were tortured, but they still refused to deny Christ. One by one, they were executed. Lorenzo was hung upside-down over a pit for three days until he died. In 1981, Saint Pope John Paul II beatified Lorenzo Ruiz along with fourteen other Philippine and Japanese martyrs executed around the same time. All were canonized six years later.
Discuss: Have you ever been falsely accused? Explain what happened, how you were treated, and how you felt.
Altar servers are essential liturgical ministers. Invite those in the group that serve as altar servers to tell about their ministry and why they do it.