A Cuban priest philosopher

On February 25, 1853, Padre Feliz Varela died in Saint Augustine, Florida, at the age of sixty-five.

Padre Varela was born in Havana, Cuba, and became a priest there. His studies in philosophy led him to teach at San Carlos College.

He was so well esteemed that he was chosen as a delegate to the Spanish Cortes in Madrid in 1821. But he didn’t stay there long.

He proposed independence for Cuba and the abolition of slavery, both causes that did not please the Spanish Cortes. He had to flee in 1823 and wound up in New York  City.

In New York he ministered to the poor Irish immigrants but also founded a newspaper in Spanish that advocated Cuban independence. His efforts did not please the Spanish government and an assassin was hired.

Padre Varela earned a doctorate in theology and wrote on liberty and religion, including a two volume work Letters to Elpidio.

He was a priest ahead of his times – advocating liberty, calling for independence of his Latin American homeland, and being the first Hispanic theologian in the US.

He was buried in Florida but his remains were later moved to Habana, where they rest, venerated by people of all political and religious persuasions as a Cuban patriot.

I have not read his work but it might be good to see what was said about religion and liberty more than 160 years ago. One quote of Padre Varela is

I have always concluded that Christianity and liberty are inseparable.



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