Philippine Embassy - Tokyo, Japan > Cardinal Quevedo Blesses Memorial Garden for Japanese Saints and San Lorenzo Ruiz in Nagasaki

Cardinal Quevedo Blesses Memorial Garden for Japanese Saints and San Lorenzo Ruiz in Nagasaki

Archbishop of Cotabato Orlando Cardinal Quevedo with Ambassador Manuel M. Lopez and Minister Angelica C. Escalona at Oura Cathedral, Nagasaki

His Eminence Orlando Beltran Cardinal Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato, visited Nagasaki, Japan on 15-18 March 2015 as Special Envoy of Pope Francis to attend special commemorative activities organized by the Catholic Archdiocese of Nagasaki under Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami.

On 16 March 2015, Cardinal Quevedo blessed the memorial garden at Nagasaki’s Nakamachi Church dedicated to St. Thomas Nishi and his 15 companions, among them San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint. The martyrs died between 1633 and 1637 in Nagasaki during the Tokugawa Shogunate’s oppression of Christians. They were beatified in Manila on 17 February 1981 by Pope John Paul II, and were canonized on 18 October 1987 at the Vatican.

The memorial garden of St. Thomas Nishi and his 15 companions at Nakamachi Church, Nagasaki. The statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz is in the front row, 2nd from right.

According to the Archdiocese of Nagasaki, in the 1980s, Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin asked Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Asajiro Cardinal Satowaki if a statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz can be erected in the city of his martyrdom. Cardinal Satowaki swiftly designated Nakamachi Church as a place to honor the 16 martyrs, and in August 1988, a monument commemorating the martyrs was erected within the church grounds. A statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz was also erected, but as the inscription did not match the official name of “St. Thomas Nishi and his 15 companions” approved by the Holy See, alterations had to be made.

The statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz at the memorial garden of St. Thomas Nishi and his 15 companions, Nakamachi Church, Nagasaki

On 16 and 17 March 2015, Cardinal Quevedo attended celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the discovery of Japan’s hidden Christians. During the mass at the historic Oura Cathedral to commemorate this milestone on 17 March, Cardinal Quevedo conveyed the blessings of Pope Francis and said that the story of the Japanese Christians who secretly practiced and transmitted their faith for more than two centuries when Christianity was prohibited in Japan is one of great inspiration to Catholics today.

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel M. Lopez and Minister Angelica C. Escalona of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo joined guests from Japan and other countries invited to take part in these commemorative activities.