Apostle of Madrid Who Helped Form the Laity

Postulator Tells of Life of José María Rubio

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ROME, APRIL 30, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II will canonize five Spaniards in Madrid this Sunday, including a Jesuit priest, José María Rubio.



Father Rubio was outstanding for his work among the needy and for his keen awareness of the laity's mission in the Church.

José María Rubio y Peralta was born on July 22, 1864, in Dalias, in the province of Almeria. He was ordained a priest in Madrid at 23. Subsequently, he felt a strong inclination to the religious life in the Society of Jesus, a vocation that became a reality 20 years later.

He made his religious vows in 1908, and carried out his ministry in the Jesuit priests' residence in Madrid, where he remained until his death in Aranjuez on May 2, 1929.

Father Rubio was known for his dedication to the confessional, to preaching, to the Spiritual Exercises, and to the apostolate of prayer of all the faithful.

He is also known for his pastoral ministry in the poorest neighborhoods of Madrid, particularly in "La Ventanilla," where revolutionary movements inflamed the working class.

Father Rubio founded schools and formed many Christians who would die as martyrs during the religious persecution in Spain.

An exemplary priest of profound spiritual life, his pastoral ministry earned him the name of "Apostle" of the city.

There are two essential traits that characterized this "man of God," the postulator of his cause of canonization, Father Paolo Molinari, said over Vatican Radio. "The first was his option for the poor."

The "terms 'preferential option for the poor' were not usual in his time, in the '20s, when he was in Madrid," Father Molinari explained. "In fact, he lived for the poor, very close to them, and helped innumerable Christians, lay men and women, to live their Christianity by fusing love of God with love of neighbor, in a word, love for the neediest."

The formation of the laity was Father Rubio's second fundamental trait. People were attracted to him "not because of any particular gifts but because of what his life reflected," Father Molinari said.

Father Rubio was a man "who in the adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the contemplation of the Heart of Christ made his own the Lord's sentiments," the postulator said. "Truly, as St. Paul says, Father Rubio had conformed himself to Christ.

"People perceived the presence of God in him -- he attracted them precisely because of his union with God, his holiness -- and that is why they hastened to listen to him. They would abandon themselves to that formation that he knew how to give."

The postulator added: "Father Rubio recognized the mission of the laity in the Church and he was able to form men and women to share in the fullest sense in the mission the Church carries out, especially with the neediest."