Biographical Data

“You see…, he is a humble layman who has chosen the path of truth,
“viam veritatis elegi”
In the dark night of the world, only the Cross of Christ illuminates the path of life…
There is only that truth that gives peace to wait,
encouragement to continue
and confidence not to err.
Christ and his Cross is the Truth, he is the Way and he is the Life.
He said so and his words are fulfilled in the serene peace of that little puffin who walks the path of Truth in search of Christ.”

– San Rafael Arnaiz

Biografical data

Rafael de niño

Rafael as a child

Rafael Arnaiz Barón was born on April 9, 1911 in Burgos (Spain), where he was also baptized and received confirmation. Right there he began his studies at the PP school. Jesuits, receiving the Eucharist for the first time in 1919.

Endowed with a precocious intelligence, already from his early childhood he gave clear signs of his inclination to the things of God. In these years he received the first visit from what was to be his fate and companion: the illness that forced him to interrupt his studies. Recovered from her, her father, in gratitude for what he considered a special intervention of the Blessed. Virgin, at the end of the summer of 1922 he took it to Zaragoza, where he consecrated it to the Virgen del Pilar, a fact that did not fail to mark Rafael’s spirit.

After his family moved to Oviedo, there he continued his secondary studies, enrolling at the end of the School of Architecture in Madrid. With a brilliant intelligence, Rafael was endowed with outstanding qualities for friendship. As he grew in age and developed his personality, his spiritual experience of Christian life also grew.

Hermano Rafael Arnáiz Barón

Brother Rafael Arnáiz Barón

In his willing heart, God wanted to raise the invitation to a special consecration in monastic life.

Having made contact with the Cistercian monastery of San Isidro de Dueñas -his Trapa- he felt strongly attracted by what he saw in the place that corresponded with his intimate desires. He entered there on January 16, 1934.

God wanted to mysteriously test him with a painful disease –diabetes saccharine- which forced him to leave the monastery three times, where he returned as many times for the sake of a generous and faithful response, truly heroic, to what he felt was God’s call.

Sanctified in the joyful fidelity to the monastic life and in the loving acceptance of God’s plans, he consummated his life at dawn on April 26, 1938, when he was just 27 years old, being buried in the monastery cemetery.

Soon his fame for holiness flew unstoppably beyond the walls of the monastery.



With the fragrance of his life, his numerous writings continue to spread with great acceptance and good for those who come into contact with his spirituality through him.

On August 19, 1989, SS. John Paul II proposed him as a model for young people in Santiago de Compostela on the occasion of World Youth Day, proclaiming him Blessed on September 27, 1992 in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome together with other servants of God. Finally, on Sunday, October 11, 2009, he was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican Basilica.


Con Ramón

With Ramón

His spirituality, so rich in nuances, is focused on the search for God, which increasingly dominates his life, and which he expresses in a very personal phrase in which he seems to say it all: “Only God!” God fills everything in your life. Outside of it, nothing makes sense.

That is why Rafael’s life is above all a testimony of the transcendence of God; of the absolute of God. Not a God of whom many things are known, but a God experienced in life and who has fascinated him.



Thus, fascinated by God, he discovered that the monastic life was “his” path, because he felt that God was calling him to live only to seek Him in a hidden life, that of not being, in order to be only for God.

Thirsty for God, his only aspiration was to live to love, because he was a man made to love and because God wanted nothing more than his love detached from everything. And because she did not want her life to be anything other than an act of love, and she wanted to love Jesus with a frenzy, in her expression, she would like to stop living, if she could live without loving him.



These expressions, which in another could seem a mere pious aspiration, empty of content, in Rafael had a very deep meaning, as he had the opportunity to demonstrate in his life, especially when going through the ordeal of the illness that forced him to leave several times from the Monastery, twisting his illusions, returning as many times to resume monastic life.

Indeed, the disease was the crucible in which God wanted to mold him.

Through her, Rafael discovered the path of the cross that God offered him as the only alternative.

On the Cross he discovered his treasure, his rest. He discovered that God was in her, and he would not change her for anything or anyone, as he said.

He loved her to the point of the paradox of feeling absolutely happy because he felt absolutely miserable.

Purified in love and pain, Rafael, with a jovial and communicative character, attractive to all who met him, became more and more transparent to God, to his Spirit and to men.

It is the fruit of a sincere humility, learned in the light and in contact with God, who does not tolerate a fault in the folds of the heart. Finally, another very significant note of his spirituality is his endearing love for Mary, who occupies a central place on his path to God.

From her he receives help, light, comfort, and with her he maintains relationships full of trust, simplicity and tenderness. His writings –letters and pamphlets- that he never did for publication, have been collected in the book entitled: “Life and writings of Fray María Rafael”, and recently in “Complete Works”.