Carlos Manuel Rodriguez
Feast Day: July 13
Beatified: July 7, 1997
Venerated: July 13, 1963
Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez Santiago was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, in 1918. He is the first Puerto Rican to be declared “Blessed” by the Church.
Carlos lived before Vatican II, when changes to the liturgies of the Church were made. When Carlos grew up, the Mass and other celebrations were prayed in Latin. Carlos dreamed of a time when people would be able to hear and respond to the prayers of the Mass in Spanish, the language of his people.
Raised in his grandmother’s house, where faith was central to their lives, Carlos won a medal in religion, but his desire to serve God as a priest was undermined by ill health. He was unable to complete college, but educated himself in all subjects, including music, and learned to play sacred music on the piano and organ.
As a young adult, Carlos published magazines to help people better understand the liturgy and the seasons of the Church year. He translated articles about the liturgy from Latin or English into Spanish. He taught religious education classes to high school students and organized discussion groups throughout his country.
It is said that the most important work he did was to translate all the rituals of the Church into Spanish, often using his own money to do so. Even though the translations were not prayed at celebrations during Carlos’ lifetime, he used them to teach young people and adults the meaning of the words we pray.
Carlos died of cancer in 1963, when he was only 44 years old, almost a year after the Second Vatican Council began. His hopes for the reform of the liturgy did become a reality, although he did not live to see it.
Carlos spent his life doing Christ’s work with joy. He did not care about possessions or money. As a matter of fact, he only owned one pair of shoes as an adult. Today those shoes are kept at his sister’s house. People leave notes in them, asking for Carlos’ prayers. People also touch the shoes with reverence as they say a prayer.
The process of his beatification was relatively quick; it was begun in 1992, and he was beatified in April of 2001 by Pope John Paul II.