Son of a Filipina mother and a Chinese father, probably named (upon baptism) after the 3rd-century Roman deacon roasted on the gridiron for his faith, surnamed Ruiz at his baptism after his godfather, an altar server (monaguillo) at the church of Saint Michael the Archangel in Binondo extra muros, a husband, a father, a clerk (escribano) for the Most Holy Order of Preachers, a guildbrother (cofrade) of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, falsely implicated in the death of a Spaniard, an accidental fugitive, a catechist: prior to his martyrdom, these are the only things we know of the protosaint and protomartyr of the Philippine Islands.
|S. Laurentius Martyr|
mosaic, Gospel side
Altar of the Crucifixion of Saint Peter
Patriarchal Basilica of Saint Peter
Ego catholicus sum et animo prompto paratoque pro Deo mortem obibo. Si mille vitas haberem, cunctas ei offerrem.
This was his undying declaration. We render it in English as:
I am a Catholic, and with a ready and prepared soul, I will accept death for God. If I should have a thousand lives, I would offer all of them to Him.
They were then tortured with water. A week later, they were paraded towards Nishizaka Hill to be tortured in the infamous tsurushi. The judges determined that parading them thus would incite the residents of Nagasaki to distance themselves from the missionaries and the Truth they preached, and to denounce those who professed the Faith. Saint Laurence and his only remaining companion refused to renounce Christ, and so, hanging upside down, they died of blood loss and suffocation. The judges immediately had their bodies cremated to prevent Japanese Christians from taking relics and venerating them. Their ashes were thrown to the sea.
Thus, on 29 September 1637, Saint Laurence, together with his Dominican companions, expired, martyred in odium fidei, and received the eternal crown, the glorious laurel, which his baptismal name signifies.
The accounts of the martyrdom reached the Philippines three months later. The Walled City was moved with devotion, its residents solemnly and fervently processing from the Cathedral to the church of Saint Dominic, headed by the Archbishop with the civil authorities in attendance. That otherwise tiny enclave of Christendom, echoing the solemnity of the ages, swelling the perennial hymn of thanksgiving, honoured the martyrs, on the occasion of their heavenly birth, with a solemn Te Deum.
Three centuries later, Pope Blessed John Paul II beatified Laurence, together with his companions, in Manila, the first time outside the Vatican, on 18 February 1981. Six years later, the same Pope enrolled the blessed martyrs in the roster of saints at the Vatican on 18 October 1987.
As Saint Laurence was beatified and canonised after the Second Vatican Council, we do not have a proper Mass for his feast, which we think would have been commissioned had he been canonised before the Council. The common of one martyr, in the prudent opinion of many who read the rubrics of the Missal, is the applicable arrangement for his feast.
This dearth has inspired us to compose a proper Mass and Office for the Feast of Saint Laurence. This arrangement bears no canonical approval whatsoever, and while it is a work of piety and faith, it must be, under its current circumstance, treated as an academic material. We share some of its parts in celebration of our protomartyr’s feast and in the hope that, someday, Saint Laurence will have his propers in the Extraordinary Form.
The Office and Mass were composed with the vision that the feast would receive the rank classis I, at least for the Philippine Islands. There is a Vigil Mass for 27 September, and matins has three nocturns with nine lessons. The liturgical day begins with first vespers and closes with second vespers. The hymns for vespers, matins, and lauds are centoed from a thirteen-verse hymn composed in honour of Saint Laurence. A sequence is also assigned for the feast. All of these are set to chant.
Below is an extract from the office of matins, showing part of the sixth lesson, the sixth responsory, the seventh antiphon, and part of the eighth antiphon.
The first verses of the sequence are shown below.We repeat: This arrangement bears no canonical approval whatsoever, and while it is a work of piety and faith, it must be, under its current circumstance, treated as an academic material.
From the Missale Romanum editio typica tertia, we have the collect for the optional memorial on 28 September, for Saint Laurence and his companions:
Beatórum Mártyrum tuórum Lauréntii et sociórum, quaésumus, Dómine Deus, patiéntiam in servítio tui et próximi nobis concéde, quia in regno tuo sunt beáti, qui persecutiónem patiúntur propter justítiam. Per Dóminum nostrum.San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, ruega por nosotros.