Saint Lorenzo Ruiz Mass Celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

| 09/18/2023

By: Armando Machado

The first Filipino saint’s feast day falls on September 28

Cardinal Orlando Beltran Quevedo, OMI, archbishop emeritus of Cotabato, Philippines, leads the faithful in prayer on Sunday, September 17, 2023, at the annual Mass honoring Saint Lorenzo Ruiz at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Cardinal Orlando Beltran Quevedo, OMI, archbishop emeritus of Cotabato, Philippines, leads the faithful in prayer on Sunday, September 17, 2023, at the annual Mass honoring Saint Lorenzo Ruiz at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Photo by Armando Machado/The Good Newsroom

Cardinal Orlando Beltran Quevedo OMI, archbishop emeritus of Cotabato, Philippines, served as principal celebrant for the annual Mass honoring Saint Lorenzo Ruiz at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 

“My brothers and sisters, it is truly a day given by the Lord; we are celebrating Mass in honor of our first Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz,” Cardinal Quevedo said during his homily at the Sunday, September 17 Mass. He went on to talk about forgiveness and the importance of “God’s compassion for us and our compassion for others,” citing the day’s readings. The Mass was conducted in English, with some use of Filipino dialects.           

“Have mercy on your neighbor, and God will have mercy on you – an indefinite amount of times should we forgive our neighbor. The greatest example of God’s compassion is Jesus our Lord – from the cross he forgave all those responsible for crucifying Him: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” Cardinal Quevedo told the attendees.    

The cardinal also noted that forgiveness leads to respect, which leads to “reconciliation, unity, and solidarity…Individuals with conflicting self-interests, groups and associations in conflict or with divergent opinions are reconciled through mutual understanding, respect, and forgiveness.”

The cardinal also recounted the story of Saint Lorenzo’s martyrdom, noting Lorenzo’s love of the Holy Eucharist and dedication to praying the Rosary. 

Joanne Canicula, a parishioner of St. Anthony Church in Nanuet (Rockland County), was among the faithful in the pews. Born in Dagupan City, Philippines, she said she knows more than a bit about Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and his martyrdom.

“He’s my (personal) patron saint; he was very close to God. And he said even if he had one thousand lives, he would offer them all to God. I want also to emulate him,” Canicula told The Good Newsroom before the liturgy, adding that she, like many in the pews, was grateful that Cardinal Quevedo traveled from the Philippines to celebrate Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 

Father Erno B. Diaz, chairman of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Global Ministry, based in New York and Manila, gave opening remarks of welcome and closing words of gratitude. He said a statue of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz displayed during Mass will eventually be enthroned at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, planned for October 2025.

He said the statue will be placed at the cathedral’s Altar of Saint Rose of Lima, patroness of the Philippines. Father Diaz, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York, thanked Cardinal Quevedo for celebrating the Mass, and Filipino diplomats for their presence.   

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, born in the Binondo area of Manila, grew in faith, nurtured by his Chinese father and Filipino mother. He served as an altar boy and sacristan for the Dominican friars, and later developed his skill as a calligrapher, transcribing sacramental documents for the Binondo Dominican parish. He married and had three children, two boys and a girl; his wife’s name was Rosario.  

Saint Lorenzo’s life changed suddenly and dramatically when, in 1636, he was falsely accused of murdering a Spaniard. Lorenzo escaped with the help of Dominican missionaries. They boarded a ship headed for Japan during a time of persecution of Christians.  

Later in Okinawa, they were captured, taken to Nagasaki, and tortured for their beliefs. Rather than deny his faith, Lorenzo suffered a grueling martyrdom in September 1637 at age 42. The Church celebrates the feast day of this first saint of the Philippines on September 28. Saint Lorenzo was canonized in October 1987 by Pope John Paul II (now Saint John Paul II).

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