Minor Basilica and National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz

National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz

On a fine day of October 25, 1992, the parish of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Binondo, Manila, home of the Chinese immigrants and succeeding Filipino-Chinese generations of skilled businessmen was inaugurated as a Minor Basilica. With its new title, the church has been given added significance to its already rich historical background.

In the beginning, the Binondo Church was popularly known as the place of worship for the Chinese Catholic converts and a considerable number of Filipinos of Chinese ancestry. Expectedly, as the Chinese population in the Philippines grew, the need for a church that could attend to their unique needs cropped up and to fill that need were the early Dominican missionaries who catechized and baptized them at the same time introducing them to their European culture.

Interior of the National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz

Binondo thus became a colorful district in the City of Manila where trade and commerce prospered together with the hardworking Chinese nationals. Their determination to rise above the stigma of a once-derided ethnic culture in the Hispanized Philippines enabled them to build the formidable business center that is Binondo encompassing the whole length of the Pasig River where the famous Escolta Street hugs a variety of commercial enterprises all the way to Sta. Cruz district. The mystique of Binondo also includes the market depot in Divisoria where tons and tons of goods are unloaded and bought, traded and carted away to practically all corners of the country.

Against these very mundane concerns that made Binondo famous was the emergence of Lorenzo Ruiz, born of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother sometime in the 1600's. It is said that it was in this very same church where he was baptized, and as a boy served as acolyte to the Dominicans who administered the church. As an adult, Lorenzo married in the same church and had two sons and a daughter. In the fulfillment of his Christian calling, Lorenzo Ruiz joined 15 others who were sent to Japan and later met a martyr's death. In recognition of his supreme sacrifice, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II during his Manila visit in 1981. He was later canonized in Rome in 1987.

Interior of the National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz

Today, the Binondo Parish of our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary is a fitting Shrine, firstly for all the early Chinese Filipino faithful, the Sangleys who contributed their faith life in the continuing growth of their church in Binondo, and secondly as a proper place of veneration of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the Binondo Native, who personifies for us today the breadth and depth of faith in God.

Excerpt from Shrines, Incarnating Christ Today. St. Paul Philippines, 2004. Photos from geofreak20.com and pinoyphotobase.com.

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