JOSÉ MARÍA RUBIO Y PERALTA (1864-1929)
José María Rubio y Peralta, Professed Jesuit Priest
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 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 also 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 organized 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 abbandoned areas of Madrid and to assist the people spiritually.
Fr José María Rubio died on 2 May 1929 in Aranjuez. He was beatified by John Paul II on 6 October 1985.