Born on October 30, 1875 in Vilabella (Tarragona)
Professed December 8, 1891
Martyred September 5, 1936 in Terrassa
He was born on October 30, 1875 in Vilabella (Tarragona), in the Diocese of Tarragona. Due to the imminent danger of death, he was baptized by his Godmother, Teresa Pie de Armengol in accordance with the rite. Having survived, the following day the infant was taken to the Church of St. Peter the Apostle and the ceremony was completed by giving him the name Juan, Pedro Antonio. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation on May 18, 1877, by the Archbishop of Tarragona.
His parents were José Rafi, a laborer and Mrs. Rosa Figuerola a housewife. They nurtured a deeply Christian home where faith and piety guided the everyday life. In this environment, the religious vocation of four of their sons, Paul, Juan, James and Ramon were nurtured. They all were Brothers in the Congregation of the Claretian Missionaries. All entered the Novitiate when they were 15 or 16 years of age and all remained Claretian Missionaries until their death.
He entered the Congregation on July 18, 1890 in Cervera. As a professed Brother, he seemed to learn the trade of a tailor quickly and worked along side his brother Paul. His Postulancy lasted only a few months and on December 7th, he began his Novitiate. At the end of the canon year, he made his First Profession on December 8, 1891. His first assignment would be to continued in Cervera as a tailor, while his brother Paul was reassigned to Chile on January 22, 1892.
In December 1895, his new assignment was with the community of Pamplona to serve as tailor, sacristan and Porter. In this house, he encountered several problems jeopardizing his vocation. In May 1898, he was transferred to Cervera. Here he continued with the responsibility of tailor. Three months later he was sent to Solsona, where he arrived on September 15th. Also in this community, he was the tailor, served in the laundry and Porter. In 1905, he was sent to the House of Gracia (Barcelona). In this community he served as a tailor. He also had to suffer the effects of the Tragic Week in 1909, with the destruction of the house and Church. He would have to move to La Residencia del Paseo San Juan in Barcelona. In July 1920, his new assignment was San Feliu de Guixols with charges of sacristan, Porter and tailor. In July 1923, it would be at Tarragona. In 1931, to Girona as the tailor. His final destination was Sabadell in 1935, also as the tailor.
Virtues and Qualities
In the reports from the communities where the Brother was assigned, there was a steady progress in his perfection. At time he would encounter trials and some in general were exaggerated, but the facts reflect an appreciation and respect from his Superiors. For example, it was said that he had good behavior, yet something dissipated in his work. He was said to be docile, pious and something of a joker. Another says that he was modest, cheerful and calm. Later it is said that he was observant and devout, although insightful, talkative and remarkably curious. On the whole, his behavior is very positive.
His intellectual qualities were mediocre. His instruction is average. He knows how to read and write. Yet he excelled in tailoring.
He was observant of the Constitutions. He was obedient to the Superiors and of service to the community. Humble and diligent in the office of Porter; hardworking and faithful in the performance of his duties.
We have already recalled that the Brother Rafi suffered the Tragic Week in Barcelona. After all the successive political and social changes, in a way he could foresee the tragic results. It was enough to open his eyes. At the same time he had matured and seemed ready to accept martyrdom for the faith. For him to persevere in the religious life taught him to deal with such situations.
Days before the outbreak of the Revolution, Brother Rafi recognized the danger of martyrdom. On July 19, 1936, like the other members of the community, he left the house and took refuge together with Brother Cardona, in the home of Mr. Roca, who lived at Calle Illa, #50. The next morning he returned to the house to hear Mass and receive Communion. By noon, at the behest of the Roca family, he returned to their home where he stayed for about 15 days.
Arrest and detention:
On August 4th, while at the home of Mr. Roca, militia arrived asking about objects of worship, which were the property of the Teresas Sister’s. At the beginning he refused but would have to deliver the religious objects. They told Mr. Roca that there were two servants of the Claretian Missionaries hiding in his home. The militia told him that they would care for these servants. So they took Brother’s Rafi and Cardona. They first went to the Town Hall and then to jail. In jail they encountered the others from the Claretian community and young people from the city. In prison, they formed a quasi-community. Now there was time for long meditations on their fate and to prepare for martyrdom.
Path of sacrifice:
On the night of September 4, 1936, he was violently taken from prison with the others in groups of four. Brother Rafi was in the group of Fr. Puig and Brother’s Claveria and Sole. The short trip was intended to shoot them.
In the Civil Death certificate, it attests that Brother Rafi died in Terrasa on September 5, 1936, and his body was found on the road of Castellar, in the Municipality of this city. He died as the result of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was buried in the cemetery of that city.