Saint of the Day – 4 May – Saint Jose Maria Rubio y Peralta SJ (1864-1929) aged 64 “the Apostle of Madrid” and “Father of the Poor” – Professed Jesuit Priest, Confessor, Professor, Preacher, Spiritual Director, Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration, Prayer and the Poor, endowed with the gifts of miracles, prophesy and bilocation. Born on 22 July 1864 in Dallas, Spain and died on 2 May 1929 in Aranjuez, Spain.
José María Rubio was born on 22 July 1864 in Dalías, Spain. His parents were farmers and he was one of 12 children, six of whom died at a young age. He was given a Christian upbringing and in 1875, began secondary school in Almería. As José María felt called to become a priest, he transferred to the diocesan seminary in 1876 to continue his academic pursuits. In 1878 he moved to the major seminary of Granada, where over the years he completed studies in philosophy, theology and canon law. On 24 September 1887 he was ordained a priest.
At this time, he also felt called to become a Jesuit but since he was impeded by circumstances – he took care of an elderly priest who needed assistance – he could not fulfil this wish for 19 years. In the years after his ordination, Fr Rubio was also busy as a vice-parish priest in Chinchón and then as parish priest in Estremera. In 1890, the Bishop called him to Madrid, where he was given the responsibility of synodal examiner. He also taught metaphysics, Latin and pastoral theology at the seminary in Madrid and was chaplain to the nuns of St Bernard.
In 1906, after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land the previous year, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Granada. On 12 October 1908 he made his religious profession.
Fr Rubio was exemplary in his pastoral ministry, sustained and nurtured by his profound spiritual life. The Bishop of Madrid called him “The Apostle of Madrid” and the faithful sought him out from the early morning hours for confession and to receive spiritual direction.
He was known for his incisive, simple preaching that moved many to conversion . He also had particular devotion to the poor, always providing them with the material and spiritual assistance they needed.
Through his preaching and spiritual direction, Fr Rubio was able to attract and guide many lay people who wanted to live their Christian faith authentically and assist him in the mission of helping the poor. Under his guidance, they opened tuition-free schools which offered academic formation as well as instruction in various trades . They also assisted the sick and disabled and tried to find work for the unemployed.
Fr Rubio was always the heart and soul of all of these works but he remained in the background, preferring to let his collaborators take centre stage. For this reason and to help them develop well, the gifts that God had given them, he gave the laity the main responsibility and taught them to live and act like the Apostles of the Lord Jesus.
Fr Rubio also organised popular missions and spiritual exercises in the poorest zones of the city, because he believed the poor must be helped fully, both spiritually and materially and that they must be encouraged and loved for who they are – for their own human dignity.
The most important aspect of the apostolate for Fr Rubio was prayer, adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was the centre of his entire life. The love of Christ was what Fr Rubio wanted to give to the poor. For him and his collaborators, prayer came first and it was through this intense prayer life that they received the strength to minister in the poorest and most abandoned areas of Madrid and to assist the people spiritually.
Fr José María Rubio died on 2 May 1929 in Aranjuez. He was beatified on 6 October 1985 and Canonised on 4 May 2003 on both occasions by St John Paul II….Vatican.va
St Jose Maria was a withdrawn and a modest man, of great charity and tireless devotion to work. He excelled as a preachre and as a regular confessor, which caused long lines of faithful who were looking into it further support and spiritual help. His effectiveness and reputation grew quickly throughout the city. He was noted for his love of the poor, who came forward for help. He developed his evangelical work in towns and suburbs and founded and organised several associations such as the “Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart,” the work of the “Marys of the Tabernacles” and social schools in Ventilla neighbourhoods, aided by young teachers Juan and Demetrio de Andrés, known as “Ventilla Martyrs” killed during the Civil War, 1936.
Miracles of St José María Rubio
VISIT TO A DYING MAN
While confessing, a lady came and gave him the directions to a man who had to confess soon, as he was dying. That evening, Father Rubio went to visit the dying man and following the directions, he had to go to a third floor without a lift. When he finally arrived, knocked and asked for the gentleman, “It’s me” the gentleman said “but I think that someone has played a practical joke on you, as you see I’m in perfect health. Come on, man! have a drink and relax after you have had to climb so many stairs.” Entering the room, Rubio saw a portrait on the wall and while the man served him a drink. Father Rubio said that the lady was the one who sent him. The man laughed and said that the lady was his mother who died some years ago. Then, the gentleman said; “Look, anyway, as you are here, I’m going to confess because it’s been years since I entered a church and so your journey will not have been in vain”. He confessed and died that night.
A seamstress from Madrid confessed that her father hated the faith and considered the Christian religion a swindle and a lie. Thus, she was afraid of the eternal damnation of her father. Father Rubio said that she should not be worried, as her father would be saved.
Some days after the confession, during a retreat and preaching, this seamstress came late. At the moment when she arrived, Father Rubio paused for a moment in his speech and said in loud voice: “At this very moment one of you just received a very special grace. Really very, very big. In a few days you will know what it is and whoever of you has received this, that lucky person has to thank our Lord Jesus Christ”.
All women who were there present took note of the time and day, as he was already famous for these prophecies that were fulfilled. The seamstress in a few days noticed that her father died holy and just at that time when Father Rubio was preaching, her father was confessing and receiving the last sacraments.
During his life miraculous events were reported, such as bilocation, healings, prophecy some, perhaps legendary but others ratified by numerous witnesses. What dominates is the testimony of his example and his word, next to the message that holiness is available to all who simply surrender to the will of God. His ultimate favourite and motto was: “Do what God wants and want what God does.”