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Monday, September 28, 2009

2 St. Lawrences and the Martyrs of Japan

In today's liturgical rememberance of Dominican saints, we had two Lawrences.

Blessed Lawrence of Ripafratta
The first Lawrence today is the memorial of Blessed Lawrence of Ripafratta (1373-1456) on the Dominican liturgical calendar.

Bl. Lawrence entered the order at the age of twenty. Years later he was called upon to help in the Dominican Reform Movement that was lead by Bl. John Dominici!

In the early 15th century he was made Dominican novice-master for a congregation in Tuscany. It was during this time of the Great Western Schism that he trained many great Domincans in the reform of the order: St. Antoninus, Bl. Peter Capucci, and the famous artist brothers that were Dominicans, Bl. Fra Angelico and Fra Benedetto.

He preached almost continuously throughout his life and had a reputation for compassion to the poor whom he tended, taught and visited, even in time of plague.

He lived to the age of 98. After his death there was a long history of miracles at his tomb. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI in 1851.

Dominican First Vespers
Antiphon. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Lawrence , confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.
V. Pray for us, Blessed Lawrence
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The 16 Maryrs of Japan
The day is also set aside to remember the 16 Martyrs of Japan (not to be confused with the 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki). Our second Lawrence comes from these courageous souls.

The 16 Maryrs of Japan (1633 - 1637) were all Dominican related individuals that died for the faith during the time of persecution in Japan when Christianity was outlawed.

St. Lorenzo (Lawrence) Ruiz of this group is the first Filipino martyr and saint. He was a husband, father and member of the Confraternity of the Rosary. As a child he was educated by Dominicans and sought refuge with Dominican priests before his martyrdom. His last words (translated from Togalog) were:

I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly accept death for the
Lord; if I have a thousand lives, all of them I will offer to Him
After St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the other 15 martyrs were 9 Dominican priests, 2 Dominican Brothers, 2 tertiaries (Lay Dominicans), 2 parishioners of Dominican missions.


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