Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez Santiago


Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez Santiago was the second of five children born to Manuel Baudilio Rodriguez and Herminia Santiago; one of his sisters is a Carmelite nun, one brother a Benedictine monk, the first Puerto Rican to be an abbot. At age 6, the family store and home were burned to the ground; they moved in with his mother’s family, and Carlos spent time with his pious maternal grandmother Alexjandrina Esteras. At age 9 he wrestled a rabid dog that had snatched up his 1-year-old, and was badly wounded in the fight; the cousin is now his 70’s. Suffered from ulcerative colitis from age 13, which interrupted a brilliant scholarly career; he completed high school, but it was several years before he could move on to college.

Carlos never passed up a chance to serve as an altar boy. Worked as an office clerk until 1946. Tried to attend the University of Puerto Rico, but his health prevented it. After a few lessons, he taught himself to play piano and organ. Loved to spend days hiking in the countryside.

Office clerk at Caguas, and at the University of Puerto Rico Agriculture Experiment Station. Translator, converting English documents to Spanish. Used his translating skills to write, and his modest salary to publish Liturgy and Christian Culture magazines. With the help of Father McWilliams, he founded a Liturgy Circle at Caguas. With Father McGlone, he organized the chorus Te Deum Laudamus.

His principal apostolic work was at Catholic University Center, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico where he evangelized to students and teachers. Organized another Liturgy Circle (Circulo de Cultura Christiana: Christian Culture Circle). Published Christian Life Days to help university students enjoy liturgical seasons. Member of the Brotherhood of Christian Doctrine, Holy Name Society, and Knights of Columbus. Taught catechism to high school students. Encouraged liturgical renewal among clergy and laity; worked for active participation of the laity, the use of vernacular language, and devotion to the Paschal Vigil – all prior to Vatican II.

His health declined further; he suffered from rectal cancer, and the misery of aggressive surgery in 1963. At one point he felt himself abandoned by God, but soon rediscovered his faith, and his enthusiasm. Puerto Rico’s first blessed.