Binondo Church : Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz


Binondo Church, also known as Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, is located in the District of Binondo, Manila fronting Plaza Calderón de La Barca, in the Philippines. It is located in Manila’s Chinatown at the western end of Ongpin Street, Binondo.

This church was founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve their Chinese converts to Christianity. The original building was destroyed by a bombardment by the British in 1762 during their brief occupation of Manila at that time.

The current granite church was completed on the same site in 1852 and features an octagonal bell tower which suggests the Chinese culture of the parishioners.

Binondo Church was greatly damaged during the Second World War, although fortunately the western facade and the octagonal bell tower survived.

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Saint Lorenzo Ruiz (c.1600 – Sept. 29, 1637), served at the convent of Binondo church as an altar boy. After a few years he earned the title of escribano and soon became a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. He was working as a clerk at the Binondo Church when he was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard in 1636. He sought asylum on board a ship with three Dominican priests. The boat landed at Okinawa and the group was arrested on basis of their Christian religion. They were tortured, but they did not denounce their faith and died as martyrs. Lorenzo Ruiz was beatified in Manila on Feb.18, 1981 by Pope John Paul II. He was canonized on Oct. 18, 1987.

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The baptistry of Binondo church is the exact spot where Lorenzo Ruiz and Ignacia del Espiritu Santo were baptized!!! When I look at the baptistry now at the side of the main entrance, I always think that it produced two saints for the Philippines!!!

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Do we have a souvenir shop dedicated to St. Lorenzo Ruiz? I know that it’s the shrine of San Lorenzo even though his relic is somewhere under the sea in Okinawa. Honestly, people barely know that it’s the shrine of our one and only saint. We need to be like Avila, Spain–they don’t have the body of St. Teresa but they have souvenir shops to espouse the devotion.

Even in New York, St. Elizabeth Seton’s relic is in Maryland, but because she used to live in downtown Manhattan, there is a shrine and a souvenir shop/religious store for the aforementioned saint. I just hope we do the same.

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