Rufino Santos

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His Eminence
Rufino J. Santos
Cardinal Archbishop of Manila
Rufino J. Cardinal Santos Portrait.jpg
Province Manila
See Manila
Installed February 10, 1953
Term ended September 3, 1973
Predecessor Gabriel M. Reyes
Successor Jaime Sin
Other posts Archbishop of the Philippines Military Ordinate (1951-53)
Ordination October 25, 1931
Consecration October 24, 1947
Created Cardinal March 28, 1960
by Pope John XXIII
Personal details
Birth name Rufino Cardinal Jiao Santos
Born August 26, 1908
Guagua, Pampanga
Died September 3, 1973(1973-09-03) (aged 65)
Manila, Philippines
Buried Crypt at the Manila Cathedral
Nationality Filipino
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Gaudencio Santos
Rosalia Jiao
Motto Caritas in Dilectione
Signature {{{signature_alt}}}
Coat of arms

Rufino Jiao Santos (August 26, 1908 - September 3, 1973) was the first Filipino Cardinal and the 29th Archbishop of Manila from February 10, 1953 until his death on September 3, 1973.


Born in Sto. Niño, Guagua, Pampanga, Santos was the fourth of seven children of Gaudencio Santos, an overseer of some farmlands near Mount Arayat, and Rosalia Jiao. Rufino's 3 elder brothers were Manuel, Emiliano and Quirino; his three sisters were Clara, Jovita, and Exequiela. Santos grew up in a house located 30 meters from what is now the Immaculate Conception Parish, the venue of the centennial event. Rufino was active in church activities as "acolyte," and choir member of the Manila Cathedral School. 2 factors influenced his priestly vocation: his stint as an altar server, and the encouragement of Father Jose Tahon, Manila Cathedral parish priest.

He entered San Carlos Seminary on July 25, 1921, and earned a Baccalaureate in Canon Law in 1929 and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology in July 1931 at Pontificia Universita Gregoriana. In 1927, 19-year-old Pinong and Leopoldo A. Arcaira, 24, both outstanding students of San Carlos Seminary, were the first recipients of the scholarships at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy.

Pinong was granted a Papal dispensation to be ordained below the canonical age of 24. On Oct. 25, 1931, two months shy of his 23rd birthday, Rufino J. Santos was ordained priest at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome.[1] He then served as assistant parish priest in Imus, Cavite and as parish priest in Marilao, Bulacan.

Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales said during World War II "Santos saved the life of Manila Archbishop Michael O'Doherty by admitting to the Japanese Army that it was he, as a secretary of the archbishop, who donated food to the poor, including Filipino guerrillas. Refusing to collaborate with the Japanese Army, Santos was sentenced to death but was plucked out by the Combined American and Filipino liberation forces on the night of his execution."

Archbishop of Manila[edit]

In 1953, Santos was appointed Archbishop of Manila on February 10 and was installed on March 25 on the same year. Pope John XXIII elevated him to the cardinalate on 28 March, 1960 making him the first Filipino to become a cardinal. Santos paved the way for the founding of Catholic Charities (eventually known as Caritas Manila) and the reconstruction of St. Paul Hospital (now the Cardinal Santos Medical Center), which was established by the Maryknoll Sisters, and damaged by heavy American artillery during World War II. He also re-instituted the Philippine Trust Company and the Catholic Travel Office. During his term, the Manila Cathedral, which was also ravaged during World War II, was rebuilt and dedicated to the patronage of the Immaculate Concepcion on December 10, 1958. It was also during his term that Pope Paul VI made a pastoral visit to the Philippines, the first ever by a Pope in the history of the Philippine Church. The Pope's journey was also occasioned by the Asian Bishops’ Meeting, which the Pope attended. He served as the Archbishop of Manila from 1953 to 1973.

Cardinal Rosales further said, that Santos was a diabetic and that he suffered from a malignant brain tumor.[2]

Styles of
Rufino J. Santos
Coat of arms of Rufino Santos.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Manila


Monument of Rufino Cardinal Santos (Guagua, Pampanga).
Marker (in Capt. Ruben P. Sonco Freedom Square).
Rufino Cardinal Santos Catholic Center

Caritas Manila’s history began with a Cardinal that "walked the talk".

Cardinal Santos, the first Filipino Cardinal, became the 29th Archbishop of Manila in a post-war scenario that saw a nation plagued with the following: a high dependency on the upper class in the country's social, economic and political growth; a growing inequality in the distribution of wealth; a critical unfairness in labor, land and tenancy—all catalysts to the resurgence of the communist movement. It was to this disparate social order that Cardinal Santos spoke upon his installation:

This plan took shape soon after when the Cardinal appointed an eleven-man Administrative Board on October 1, 1953. And so a new era had dawned, when the establishment of Caritas Manila (first known as Catholic Charities) brought structure and organization to the way the Church’s charitable works in the Archdiocese of Manila were being implemented.

The initial years were largely a period of identifying those who needed help the most, prioritizing and allocating medical aid, food and clothing when needed. These were superseded by programs that harnessed talents and opened up work opportunities for Manila's teeming masses, such as the educational assistance program and job placement program. Nonetheless it was medical assistance, crisis intervention and emergency relief that had the greatest impact, reaching thousands of the sick and indigent. Cardinal Santos was "reviled" for his "conservatism on social issues and business acumen" [1]. However, it was his vision and altruism that had made Caritas Manila a success and his most noteworthy accomplishment.

He died in Manila on September 3, 1973, when he was the age of 65.

Santos established the Radio Veritas and built important structures including the Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary, Edsa, Makati City, the Pius XII Catholic Center in Paco, and the Villa San Miguel in Mandaluyong.[3][4]

Following his death, a diplomatic report from the US Embassy in the Philippines assessed his activities as follows:

Santos' opposition to "Social Action" programs, which he frequently expressed in heavy-handed fashion, did much to perpetuate the Church's image as a conservative organization, allied with the country's economic and social elite.[5]

The CBCP announced that Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales would lead the August 26, 2008 centennial rites for Santos at his hometown of Sto. Nino, Guagua, Immaculate Conception Parish Church. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was to lead the event by unveiling a historical marker and a 6-foot statue of Santos (sculpted by Edillardo Paras) and donated by Cesar L. Villanueva's wife, Arlyn Sicangco-Villanueva, president of Holy Angel University in Angeles City, Pampanga. The rites also included the exhibit of Cardinal Santos memorabilia, loaned by the Archdiocese of Manila and the Kapampangan Museum at Clark.[3] The bronze statue will sit atop a 7-foot concrete pedestal outside the Rufino J. Cardinal Santos Convention Hall adjacent to the parish church. Villanueva also presented to the President, a copy of the book “Padre Pinong, the First Filipino Cardinal” authored by Francis Musni.[2]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Fr. Gabriel Reyes
Archbishop of Manila
Succeeded by
Jaime Cardinal Sin
Preceded by
Post Created
Cardinal-priest of Santa Maria ai Monti
1960 – 1973
Succeeded by
Jaime Cardinal Sin