Bonifacia Rodríguez y Castro was born in Salamanca, Spain, to a family of artisans. After receiving a rudimentary education she took up the trade of rope making, thus supporting herself and her widowed mother. Her deep spiritual leanings were recognized by a Jesuit priest of her parish. Though she expressed an interest in joining a convent, he encouraged her instead to develop a new form of religious life, based on the model of Jesus of Nazareth. Centered around the workshop, they would promote the dignity of work and gather a community of women to reflect on society in light of the Gospel.
Bonifacia and several other women took religious vows in 1874 and formed the Association of the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph. For years the community thrived. But eventually a new bishop tried to take control of the order— steering them away from industrial work and toward more conventional religious life. Bonifacia herself was unceremoniously expelled from her community. In Catalonia she founded a new community, the Servants of St. Joseph, which in 1901 received papal approbation.
She died on August 5, 1905, and was canonized in 2011.
“Bonifacia Rodríguez Castro is a simple worker who, in the midst of everyday life, opened herself to the gift of God, allowing it to grow in her heart with authentically evangelical attitudes. Faithful to the call of God, she abandoned herself to the Father’s arms, allowing him to imprint on her the features of Jesus, the worker of Nazareth, who spent the great part of his life hidden in the company of his parents.”
—Pope John Paul II