St Lawrence Ruiz and Companions
Patron Saint of the Philippines. Catholicism reached the Philippines in the 1520s. Today Catholics comprise 85% of the population, making the Philippines the largest Christian nation in Asia.
Born in suburban Manila in 1594 to a Chinese father and a Tagala mother, Lawrence, a married man with two sons and a daughter, was a calligrapher. Unjustly accused of murder, he escaped on a ship to Japan, on which there were also Dominican missionaries. However, at the very time in Japan, the persecution of Christians was reaching a peak. When they landed, they were found to be Christians and immediately taken to the city of Nagasaki. It was there on this day in 1637, he and 15 companions were cruelly tortured for their faith and martyred.
When he was offered his life in return for renouncing his Catholic faith, Lawrence said: "Had I a thousand lives, I would gladly offer them all for Him. You may kill me if that's what you want. To die for God, such is my will."
St Lawrence Ruiz and Companions were canonised by Pope John Paul II in Manila, in 1987.
There is a statue of St Lawrence in Portsmouth Cathedral.
And St Wenceslas
Patron saint of Bohemia. Duke and martyr. Born in 907, the name of Saint Wenceslas was immortalised in the Victorian Christmas carol, based on a much earlier song. But very little facts are known about his real life.
He was a devoted Christian who worked for the religious and educational improvement of his people. He accepted German rule, recognising King Henry the Fowler as the successor to Charlemagne. He was murdered in 929 by his brother Boleslaw's pagan followers.
A huge cult formed around him soon after death, centred on the church of St Vitus in Prague where his relics were brought. The Crown of Wenceslas was taken as a symbol of Czech nationalism. A series of paintings at the castle of Karlstein underline his national as well as religious importance.