Today we celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence Ruiz, from the Philippines and his fifteen companions.
Born in Manila, in the Philippines, St. Lorenzo was the father of a family. He left his wife and children to join a few Dominican priests, brothers and lay volunteers who were going on a mission to Japan to preach the Gospel.
The group had nine Dominican priests, two brothers, two single lay women, and three other lay persons. All the people on the group were in some way connected with the Dominican order and were missionaries who had originally come from five nations - France, Italy, Japan, the Philippines and Spain.
When the persecution started they all chose to die rather than give up their faith in Jesus. These martyrs suffered greatly before they died, but despite their trials they would not give up their Catholic religion and remained faithful until the end.
St. Lawrence Ruiz told his judges that if he had a thousand lives to give for Christ, he would.
These sixteen martyrs were killed for their faith in 1637, in Nagasaki, Japan. What a wonderful reminder they are that the Church reaches out to the whole world.
This group of heroes was proclaimed saints by Pope John Paul II in1987.