Father Rafael Caldelas Finally Buried in Cádiz Cathedral

Martín Serrano · Photos: Fran Montes / Juan Cejudo

Father Rafael Caldelas Finally Buried in Cádiz Cathedral

Last 3rd of August, the burial of Father Rafael Caldelas took place amid great solemnity in the beautiful crypt at the Cádiz Cathedral. For nearly half a century, this priest had carried out his calling and provided his great learning to the religious and cultural life of San Roque.

“There was only an old quarter of the town, with dilapidated houses, the Colorá neighbourhood was everywhere in ruins. The Calle del Picón was known as the ‘Cisco Kid’ streets because it consisted only of large, ruined houses.

Rafael Caldelas
Father Rafael Caldelas

This is how he describes his arrival to San Roque in 1948 when he was about 28 years old to the Official Chronicler Antonio Pérez Girón. 42 years later, in September 1990, this Freeman of the City (1971) and Medallion holder (2001) of San Roque faced his forced retirement amid emotional tributes. During those 50 years, Caldelas melded his human and cultural calling with a huge literary offering which was always linked to the religious world.

So much so, that he was appointed Official Chronicler between 1976 and 1983.

It is almost as if amid the stone walls of the Armas Square, you can still hear the priest’s slow footsteps, always attired in the traditional cassock, somewhat in the old style, but using his charisma to get into every corner of the town which he so loved. To this day, the townspeople remember him with joy. María, a regular at the principal church of San Roque, St. Mary the Crowned, remembers his congeniality: “Despite the passing years, there are many of us who still remember him.”

San Roque

On the 18th of April 2014, 5 days after his death at the San Juan de Dios residence in Cádiz, his nephew Juan Cejudo wrote the following in his personal blog:

“I have no doubt that my uncle lived a full life. He has been faithful to his priestly vocation such as he understood it and has left a very good impression among many people. He carried out many important works in San Roque.”

And it was absolutely true. This priest, who worked under the banner of giving due importance to “small important things”, had died 15 days shy of his 99th birthday, when he was the doyen of all the clergy in Cádiz province; having followed his vocation for 75 years. The majority of this time he spent in the Campo de Gibraltar, because in addition he also ministered in La Línea and his first parish was in San Martín del Tesorillo.

Padre Rafael Caldelas

This life of commitment has been recognised 5 years after his death with the transfer of his earthly remains to the crypt of Cádiz Cathedral where there are also buried such famous people as the composer Manuel de Falla and the intellectual José María Pemán, as well as the incorrupt remains of the Roman martyr Saint Victoria, whose face is covered by a wax mask.


San Roque

During his time in San Roque, Father Caldelas carried out a huge amount of social work, including the artisan’s cooperative “La Palma”, the children’s dining facility, the diocesan house of Christ the King, and the school at the Sierra del Arca.

Also, the parish school and the radio station, Christmas Campaign. He oversaw the restoration of the hermitage of San Roque, and in 1987 founded the ‘Los Olivillos’ parish of the Holy Trinity.

As a researcher, he found interesting material about the history of the town, including the first document in which the goatherd Simon Susarte, a historical character both in Gibraltar and San Roque is to be found.

From 1950 – 1956, he published the Parish Newsletter. In 1985, he was named Honourable Member of the Family Artistic Group of San Roque. He published several books; “The Parish of Gibraltar in San Roque: Records from 1462 – 1853” (1976); “Gibraltar in San Roque: Official Notes 1706 – 1882” (1983); “The Wakeup Call” (1988); A Biography of the Blessed Friar Diego de Cádiz; “Walking and Praying Around the House” (1989); “The Parish of Gibraltar in San Roque: Supplement” (1993); “The Blessed Friar Diego Jose de Cádiz: A Compendium of Eulogies, Sermons, Discourses, Stories and Celebrations on the Centenary of his Beatification” (1998) and “The Count of Las Lomas, Parrish of Gibraltar in San Roque: Second Supplement” (1999).

He himself said that he was motivated to write in order to “serve the human family, the people of God and most especially, those from San Roque of whom I have such fond memories and who were kind enough to name me Freeman of their city.”

Father Rafael Caldelas Finally Buried in Cádiz Cathedral

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