Carlos Manuel Rodriguez was born November 22, 1918 in Caguas, Puerto Rico, the second of five siblings. His family was a devout family. Two of his sisters married, one became a Carmelite nun, and his only brother a Benedictine. His parents were very devout. When they lost their home to fire and were forced to live with their maternal grandparents, their parents taught them to face the difficulties with patience and peace.
Carlos suffered from ulcerative colitis from an early age, which interrupted his education. He was forced by his illness to leave school and finish his studies at home while he worked as a clerk, only receiving his high school diploma in 1939, at the age of twenty.
Carlos continued to work as a clerk as an adult and used his resources to promote the Catholic faith through an appreciation of the liturgy. He published Liturgy and Christian Culture, publications devoted to the liturgy and organized numerous discussion circles to study the Catholic faith, as well as teaching catechism to high school students.
While he attended university, he was able to encourage study of the faith among university professors and students. His illness, however, forced him out of school, though he took it upon himself to learn the piano and organ and to organize a parish choir.
Carlos was unstoppable in his promotion of the Catholic liturgy, even among priests and bishops. Of particular concern was the loss of much Catholic tradition in the liturgy, especially of the Easter Vigil, which for a long time was celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday rather than at night. Carlos was delighted when the Easter Vigil was properly restored to a nighttime celebration by Pope Pius XII in 1952. “We live for that night,” was his motto, which is written on his tomb in the Cathedral in Caguas. Insisting that “the liturgy is the life of the Church,” Carlos organized a “liturgy circle” in Caguas to promote a deeper understanding of the liturgy.
Carlos died of colorectal cancer on July 13, 1963 at the age of 44. In 1981, a woman was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s malignant lymphoma. She and her husband had known Carlos Rodriguez in college and knew of his death from cancer. Inspired to pray for healing through his intercession, she was healed and attributed her healing to Carlos’ intercession. In 1991, Carlos’ cause for canonization was initiated, based on the strength of this healing. In 1997, Pope St. John Paul II declared “Charlie” venerable, testifying to the heroic virtue of his life, and on April 29, 2001, he was beatified. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez is the first Puerto Rican-born person to be beatified.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.