Felix Varela Morales

Félix Varela Morales
Félix Varela Morales

General Information on Felix Varela

Felix Varela Morales was born in Havana on January 20th, 1788. While still very young he went to Florida, where his father and grandfather had been destined. There he was educated between Irish Catholics and liberal-minded priests whose teachings influenced markedly in his patriotic and anti-racism training. He returned to Havana in 1801 and entered the Seminary of San Carlos and San Ambrosio. Since 1804 he combined his priesthood studies with a degree in Philosophy at the seminary. With these studies in philosophy he enrolled at the Royal and Pontifical University of San Geronimo of Havana. He concluded both on July 1806 at the age of eighteen. He received the following year the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy and Bachelor in Theology in 1808. Two years later was granted the diaconate.

Felix Varela and Some Notes about his Life

Felix Varela began as Latin professor at the Seminary and in 1811 he was awarded with the chair of philosophy of the campus as well as the priesthood. In 1812 Varela wrote texts for the philosophy education and he introduced the teaching of experimental physics and chemistry. He was the first to teach his classes in Spanish language and he systematized his Philosophy and Miscellaneous Lessons and philosophical in a book in which he summarized the essential concepts of his philosophical thought and his political positions. The new constitutional movement of 1820 in Spain opened the door to the creation of a Chair of Constitution which Varela occupied by the appointment of Espada Bishop. The relevance achieved by academic readings promoted his election as Member of Parliament in 1821. In Spain he introduced three major projects in which he was joining the more radical sectors within the constitutional courts. For this reason he had to flee from Spain after the return of Fernando VII. So he went to Morocco, Gibraltar and finally to the United States. He insisted on publishing El Habanero Newspaper that circulated clandestinely in Cuba at a time of great political disorder. In Philadelphia, he published the first three issues of the newspaper and a fourth in New York between 1825 and 1826. He translated the Parliamentary Practice Manual by Thomas Jefferson and the Elements of Chemistry Applied to Agriculture by Humphrey Davy. He collaborated with his disciple and friend Jose Antonio Saco in the drafting of the The Weekly Messenger Magazine in 1829 and he published in New York Cuban Poems of Zequeira and Manuel Arango. It also brought to light three editions of his Lectures on Philosophy, which have been used as a textbook in Cuba and other Latin American countries. In 1827 he founded his parish in the Church of Christ. During the exercise of his priestly ministry he was distinguished for his piety, austerity and boundless generosity. His reputation earned him the designation as Associate General Vicar of the diocese and therefore he represented the Bishop of New York in the councils of Boston (1837) and Baltimore (1846). Between 1835 and 1838 his Letters to Elpidio appeared, a true compendium of ideas about morality and individual training. He received his PhD in Theology and was co-editor of a Catholic monthly magazine between 1841 and 1843. His health was broken by the harsh climate of New York, so he had to travel south in the winter season and made several visits to Charleston and St. Augustine, seeking to atop his asthma attacks. Resentful again his health he went to St. Augustine Florida in early 1850, where he was welcomed by the French priest Edmund Aubril until his death on February 18th, 1853. His remains were moved to Havana in 1911 and the next year they were placed in the Aula Magna of the University of Havana, where they rest.

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