Rapolas Kalinauskas was born on September 1,1835 to the family of a Mathematics professor Andrius Kalinauskas and Juzefa Polonska. He was baptized with the name Juozapas. Several weeks after the birth, the mother passed away, and Joseph was raised by his aunt Viktorija. At age 9, he began to study at Vilniaus Aukštuomenės Institute, where his father was a professor. Juozapas was known for his intelligence and exemplary behavior.
In1851, he began his studies at the Agriculture Academy in Gori-Gorkuose, and later transferred to St. Petersburg‘s War and Engineering Academy, which he completed in 1859 with a lieutenant‘s rank. He briefly served in the Czar‘s army, and went from there to fight in the Lithuanian-Polish Uprising in 1863. He became the Minister of War in the Vilnius region. In the spring of 1864, he was captured by the Czar‘s army, tried, and sentenced to death. With the active efforts of his father, his sentence was changed to exile in Siberia. He, along with many others exiled, were taken to the salt mines in Usole. On April 16,1866, he was given amnesty from the forced hard labor, and in 1868, was released from all other forced labor. He lived in exile in Irkutsk until 1872. Participation in the uprising and years of hard labor significantly changed Kalinauskas‘ spirit. It helped him to discover God in a new way, suffering taught him to pray, and to be sensitive to the pain of others. After his amnesty, Juozapas began to teach the children of the exiled and helped Father Kristupas Švernickas, a well-known pastor in Siberia, prepare the children for First Communion. Thanks to his friendship with Father Kristupas, Juozapas was able to live a rich spiritual life, read theological literature, and would often receive the sacraments.
In1872, he went to Perm and later moved to Smolensk, where he received a freedom decree in 1874. He had permission to go to Poland, but had no right to live in Lithuania. Upon arrival in Warsaw, he was offered a position to be the schoolmaster for the son of the Duke Vladislov Czartoryski who was living in Paris. Kalinauskas was not in Paris for long, as his pupil‘s illness required a lot of travel. He lived in various cities and regions of Switzerland and Italy for three years. During that time, Kalinauskas tried to relay the highest spiritual ideals to his pupil, and taught him physics and mathematics. He would go to Holy Mass every day, prayed a great deal, studied the works of St. Augustine, St. Theresa, St. John of the Cross, and other spiritual teachers‘ work. He spent a great deal of time with members of various orders, and was interested in monastery life.
On July 15,1877, Kalinauskas joined the Barefoot Carmelite Order and started in the novitiate Grace in Austria. On November 26, he was given the Carmelite robe and became Brother Rapolas of St. Joseph. After the first vows, he was sent to the Monastery Raab in Hungary to study Theology and Philosophy. On November 27,1881, he gave his final vows, afterwhich, he went to Poland to the only remaining Carmelite Monastery in Černa, near Krakow. (All of the others had been destroyed). He was ordained a priest there on January 15, 1882.
After being ordained a priest, Father Rapolas had many responsibilities in the provinces and in the monasteries during his 25 years of service. These included: being the Senior at the Černa Monastery, Provincial advisor, Provincial Vicar of the Barefoot Carmelites, Founder and Senior of the monastery in Vadovicai. He was known for his devotion, apostolic diligence, and was considered a very good spiritual advisor. He displayed a good example of monastery life by attentively taking care of the affairs of the monastery, and strived to fulfill his responsibility with great perfection.
He died on November 15, 1907.
Rapolas was beatified by Pope John Paul the II in Krakow on June 22, 1983. He was canonized in Rome on November 17, 1991.