Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago
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|Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodríguez Santiago|
|Born||November 22, 1918
Caguas, Puerto Rico,
|Died||July 13, 1963
Río Piedras, Puerto Rico,
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church
|Beatified||April 29, 2001, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II|
|Major shrine||Cathedral Dulce Nombre de Jesus, Caguas, Puerto Rico,
Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodríguez Santiago (November 22, 1918 – July 13, 1963) was a layperson of the Roman Catholic Church, who was beatified by the Catholic Church on April 29, 2001. He is the first Puerto Rican, the first Caribbean-born layperson and the first layperson in the history of the United States to be beatified.
Rodríguez was born in 1918, the son of Manuel Baudilio Rodriguez and Herminia Santiago, both from large, Catholic families. He was baptized at the nearby Sweet Name of Jesus Church (now the cathedral of the region) on May 4, 1919. Rodríguez was the second of five brothers and sisters. Two of his sisters married, while another is a Carmelite nun. His only brother, José (Pepe) Rodriguez is a Benedictine monk and the first Puerto Rican to become abbot of his monastery.
In 1925, fire destroyed the family residence and business. The family was forced to live with his mother's parents. Despite the lack of space and privacy this entailed for his family, his parents taught their children not to disturb the lives of their grandparents to the extent possible and to accept the limitations of their situation peaceably.
In that same year, Rodríguez was enrolled to study at the Colegio Católico Notre Dame, attached to the parish church. After graduating the Catholic elementary school, he began to attend José Gautier Benítez High School. At that point, he began to develop ulcerative colitis. After two years at the local public high school, he transferred to the Academy of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in San Juan. His medical problems, however, caused him to leave prior to graduation. He returned to the family home and continued his high school studies as best he could, while working as a clerk, finally receiving his diploma in May 1939.
While Rodríguez was working as an office clerk in various towns of the region, he dedicated his resources to promote a greater knowledge of the Catholic faith by promoting a greater understanding of the significance of the Catholic liturgy. Using articles on liturgical subjects which he himself had translated and edited, he began publishing Liturgy and Christian Culture, publications to which he dedicated innumerable hours. Rodríguez organized discussion groups in towns across the entire island, and worked with Catholic social organizations to disseminate his ideas. He also taught catechism to high school students whose teaching aids he supplied out of his own pocket.
In 1946 Rodríguez enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras,to pursue higher studies. where his brother José and sister Haydée were already UPR faculty members. There, he was able to promote his desire to make Christ known among professors and students. As his disciples grew in number he moved into nearby Catholic University Center and organized another Liturgy Circle (later called the Círculo de Cultura Cristiana). Despite excellent grades and his love for studies, however, illness prevented him from completing his second year. Nonetheless, he was a voracious reader and, with only a year's study, was able to master both the piano and the church organ. In 1948, he assembled along with Father McGlone, the parroquial chorus "Te Deum Laudamus".
Rodríguez zealously promoted a renewal of the Catholic liturgy among bishops, clergy and laymen. He professed extreme devotion to the liturgy and worked to repair the loss of liturgical customs that had been abandoned over generations. He advocated for active participation of the laity in prayer, the use of the vernacular and – most especially – the observance of his much loved Paschal Vigil in its proper nighttime setting, after centuries of having this service celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday. Increasingly convinced that “the liturgy is the life of the Church", he organized a "Liturgy Circle" in Caguas to foment a better knowledge among the people. He expressed special concern over the Easter vigil, saying that it had lost its ancient character as the focal night of the Christian year. To his delight, the Easter vigil was restored to its proper time near midnight by Pope Pius XII in 1952. One of his favorite sayings about this feast was Vivimos para esa noche (We live for that night). This is now the motto on his tomb, which is located in the Cathedral of Caguas.
His physical strength declined gradually, but his spirit never failed. He lived each moment quietly overcoming his pain with the profound joy of one who knows himself to be resurrected. Following an aggressive life saving surgery in 1963 he turned out to have advanced terminal rectal cancer.
Rodríguez died at the age of 44 of colorectal cancer on July 13, 1963. Near the end, he experienced the “dark night of faith”, thinking himself abandoned by God, a known mystical experience. Yet, before dying, he rediscovered the Word he had lost, and which had given sense to his entire life. “The 13th is a good day,” he had said a few days before his death, without anyone having a notion of what that meant, until that day.
In 1981, a 42-year-old mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's malignant lymphoma. She and her husband had been friends of Rodríguez during his college years and knew of his death from cancer. She prayed to Rodríguez for intercession on her behalf. After fully recovering, she publicly attributed her recovery to the miracle of intercession.
In 1991, a Catholic priest from Spain, Mauro Meza, was authorized by the local bishop to take the story to the Vatican. In Rome, Meza initiated the process of inquiry that could lead to canonization. As a result of the findings from this investigation, it was decided that the process to canonize Rodríguez could be started.
Rodríguez is the first Puerto Rican person, the first Caribbean-born layperson and the first layperson in the history of the United States to be beatified. In the entire Western Hemisphere, Rodríguez is only the second layperson to be beatified.
The probability for Rodríguez being recognized as a saint seems high, given recent changes in canon law and the popular devotion paid to him. The 1983 reform of the Catholic Church's canon law has streamlined the canonization procedure considerably compared to the process carried out previously. The new process was established by Pope John Paul II, in his apostolic constitution of January 25, 1983, Divinus Perfectionis Magister and by Cardinal Pietro Palazzini, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. For Rodríguez to pass from Blessed to Saint, one more miracle (confirmed by the Vatican) is necessary.
- A school in Bayamón is named after him, with the blessed title. The school, originally called Escuela Superior Católica de Bayamón, was renamed in 2001: Colegio Beato Carlos Manuel Rodríguez. Staff from the school witnessed the beatification ceremony.
- List of famous Puerto Ricans
- EWTN page in Spanish on Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodríguez
- El Trece es Buen Dia Obra Dramatica En Dos Actos By Alida Subira Echegaray (Spanish Book)
- Childs, Steven. "Miracle Needed to Make First Puerto Rican Saint", The Tablet, Diocese of Brooklyn, July 20, 2012
- "Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez Santiago (1918 - 1963)". www.vatican.va. The Holy See. Retrieved 13 January 2014.