Feast of the day

St. Raphael Arnáiz Barón MONK (1911-1938)

4/26/2019 12:00:00 AM

St. Raphael Arnáiz Barón

St. Raphael Arnáiz Barón

MONK (1911-1938)

 

Celebrated April 26

SAINT RAPHAEL ARNÁIZ BARÓN
Monk 
(1911-1938)

        Raphael Arnáiz Barón was born in Burgos (Spain) April 9, 1911, into a prominent, deeply Christian family. He was baptised and confirmed in Burgos and began his schooling at the Jesuit college in the same city where, in 1919, he was admitted to first Communion.

        It was at this time that he had his first experience of illness: persistent fevers due to colibacillosis forced him to interrupt his studies. To mark his recovery, which he attributed to a special intervention of the Virgin Mary, his father took him to Zaragoza and consecrated him to the Virgin of Pilar. This experience, which took place in the late summer of 1921, profoundly marked Raphael.

        When the family moved to Oviedo, he continued his secondary schooling with the Jesuits there, obtaining a diploma in science. He then enrolled in the School of Architecture in Madrid, where he succeeded in balancing his studies with a life of fervent piety.

        Possessing a brilliant and eclectic mind, Raphael also stood out because of his deep sense of friendship and his fine features. Blessed with a happy and jovial nature he was also athletic, had a gift for drawing and painting as well a love for music and the theatre. But as he matured, his spiritual experience of the Christian life deepened.

        Although the study of architecture required a great deal of hard work and discipline, at that time he began the practice of making a long daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel of "Caballero de Gracia". He even joined the Nocturnal Adoration Association, and faithfully took his turn before the Blessed Sacrament.

        In this way his heart became well disposed to listening, and he perceived an invitation from God to lead the contemplative life.

        Raphael had already been in contact with the Trappist monastery of San Isidro de Dueñas, and he felt strongly drawn to this place, responding to his deepest desires. In December of 1933 he suddenly broke off his professional studies and on January 16, 1934 entered the monastery of San Isidro.

        After the first months of the noviciate and his first Lent, which he lived with great enthusiasm, embracing all the austerities of Trappist life, God mysteriously chose to test him with a sudden and painful

infirmity: a serious form of diabetes mellitus which forced him to leave the monastery immediately and return to his family in order to receive the proper care.

        Barely recovered, he returned to the monastery, but his illness forced him to leave the monastery for treatment again and again. But whenever he was absent he wanted to return, responding faithfully and generously to what he understood to be a call from God.

        Sanctified by his joyful and heroic fidelity to his vocation, in his loving acceptance of the Divine will and the mystery of the Cross, in his impassioned search for the Face of God, fascinated by his contemplation of the Absolute, in his tender and filial devotion to the Virgin Mary-"the Lady", as he liked to call her-his life came to an end on April 26, 1938. He was barely 27 years old. He was buried in the monastery cemetery, and later in the Abbey church.

        The fame of his sanctity rapidly spread beyond the walls of the monastery. The example of his life together with his many spiritual writings continue to spread and greatly profit those who get to know him. He has been described as one of the great mystics of the twentieth century.

        On August 19, 1989, the Holy Father John Paul II, on World Youth Day at Santiago de Compostella, proposed him as a model for young people today, and beatified him on September 27, 1992.

        Pope Benedict XVI canonized him on October 11, 2009 and presented him as a friend and intercessor for all the faithful, especially for the young.