Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago (November 22, 1918 – July 13, 1963) was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico. Rodríguez was a layperson of the Roman Catholic Church, who was beatified 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 the son of Manuel Baudilio Rodriguez and Herminia Santiago, both from large, Catholic families. He was baptized at the Sweet Name of Jesus Church in Caguas 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, Pepe Rodriguez is a Benedictine priest and the first Puerto Rican to become abbot of his monastery.
Charlie attended the Colegio Católico Notre Dame, located in Caguas. At the age of 12, Rodríguez saved his cousin from a dog attack. He was badly wounded in the attack, receiving severe bites which led to serious intestinal problems. Later, these medical problems caused him to leave university prior to graduation.
At university, Rodríguez became a Catholic lay minister. He professed extreme devotion to the liturgy and worked to reverse the loss of liturgical customs that had been abandoned over generations. He expressed special concern over the Easter vigil, saying that it had lost its ancient character and gravitas. One of his favorite sayings about this feast was "This is the most important day of the year." This is now the motto on his tomb, which is located in the Cathedral of Caguas, Cathedral Dulce Nombre de Jesús.
Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez died at the age of 44 of intestinal cancer on July 13, 1963
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.
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