lundi 9 février 2015

Saint MIGUEL FEBRES CORDERO, religieux


Saint Miguel Cordero, religieux

Il naquit en Equateur, à Cuenca, en 1854. Lorsque les Frères des Écoles chrétiennes s'établirent en Amérique du Sud, ils commencèrent par l'Equateur. Après avoir été leur élève, Miguel sollicita d'être admis dans l'Institut. Il fut le premier sud-américain à y entrer. Il enseigna à Quito pendant quarante ans, composant des manuels scolaires qui sont devenus et sont encore des classiques dans tous les pays de langue espagnole. Chassé de sa patrie par des gouvernants anticléricaux, il séjourna à Paris puis en Belgique et enfin en Espagne où il mourut en 1910.



Saint Miguel Febres Cordero

Francisco Febres Cordero naît dans une famille qui a toujours été très en vue dans la politique en Équateur. Francisco doit surmonter l’opposition de sa famille pour réaliser sa vocation de religieux laïc, le premier de nationalité équatorienne à être reçu dans l’Institut.

Le Frère Miguel est un enseignant doué et un étudiant appliqué. Il n’a pas encore vingt ans quand il publie le premier de ses nombreux ouvrages, une grammaire espagnole qui devient bientôt un classique. Au cours des années, ses recherches et ses publications dans le domaine de la littérature et de la linguistique le met en contact avec des experts du monde entier et il devient membre d’Académies nationales de l’Équateur et d’Espagne. Malgré ces distinctions académiques, l’enseignement reste pour lui une priorité, en particulier les classes de religion et la préparation des garçons à la première communion.

Ses élèves admirent sa simplicité, sa franchise, l’attention qu’il leur porte et l’intensité de sa dévotion au Sacré-Coeur et à la Vierge Marie. En 1907, il est appelé en Belgique pour travailler à la traduction en espagnol de textes à l’usage des Frères récemment exilés de France. Sa santé, toujours délicate, a du mal à s’adapter aux rigueurs du climat européen. Transféré au petit noviciat de Premia de Mar, en Espagne, il veille, lors des troubles révolutionnaires en 1909, à l’évacuation par mer, vers Barcelone, des jeunes dont il est chargé. Peu de temps après, il leur est possible de rentrer à Premià de Mar. Peu après, il contracte une pneumonie et il meurt à Premià de Mar, laissant après lui une réputation de savant, de pédagogue et de saint.

Né à Cuenca, Équateur, le 7 novembre 1854


Entré au noviciat le 24 mars 1868

Mort le 9 février 1910

Béatifié le 30 octobre 1977

Canonisé le 21 octobre 1984



Saint Miguel Febres Cordero
Francisco Febres Cordero was born into a family that has always been prominent in Ecuadorian politics. Crippled from birth, he had to overcome family opposition to realize his vocation to be a lay religious, the first native of Ecuador to be received into the Institute.

Brother Miguel was a gifted teacher from the start and a diligent student. When he was not quite twenty years old, he published the first of his many books, a Spanish grammar that soon became a standard text. In time his research and publications in the field of literature and linguistics put him in touch with scholars all over the world and he was granted membership in the National Academies of Ecuador and Spain. Despite high academic honors, teaching remained his first priority, especially his classes in religion and for the young men he prepared for first communion. His students admired his simplicity, his directness, his concern for them, and the intensity of his devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Virgin Mary.

In 1907 he passed through New York on his way to Belgium, where he had been called to translate texts into Spanish for the use of the Brothers recently exiled from France. His health, always delicate, did not easily adjust to the rigors of the European climate. Transferred to the junior novitiate at Premia del Mar in Spain, during a revolutionary outbreak in 1909 he supervised a dramatic evacuation of his young charges to the safety of Barcelona across the bay. Shortly after they were able to return, he contracted pneumonia and he died at Premia, leaving behind a remarkable reputation as scholar, teacher, and saint.

Born at Cuenca, Ecuador November 7, 1854


Entered the novitiate March 24, 1868

Died February 9, 1910

Beatified October 30, 1977

Canonized October 21, 1984



Michael of Ecuador (RM)

(also known as Miguel of Ecuador and Miguel or Francisco Febres Cordero Muñoz)

Born at Cuenca, Ecuador, on November 7, 1854; died near Barcelona, Spain, on February 9, 1910; beatified with fellow Christian Brother Mutien-Marie by Pope Paul VI on October 30, 1977; canonized by Pope John Paul II on April 7, 1984 (the feast of the order's founder).


"The heart is rich when it is content, and it is always content when its desires are set upon God." --Saint Miguel of Ecuador. Miguel, baptized Francisco, is first person from Ecuador to be canonized. He was the grandson of León Febres Cordero, a famous general who fought for Ecuador's independence from Spain, and son of Francisco Febres Cordero Montoya, who was influential in the political affairs of the country. Francisco senior was a cultured man of charm, who was fluent in five languages and, in fact, was teaching English and French at the seminary in Cuenca at the time of the saint's birth. Undoubtedly, the son's vocation was influenced by his mother Ana Muñoz and her pious family. She was one of 19 children, five of whom became nuns and one a Jesuit priest. God established the perfect family for the cultivation of a scholar saint.

At the age of nine, Francisco became one of the first students at the school opened in Cuenca by the Christian Brothers (De LaSalle Brothers) in 1863. He could scarcely walk because of a deformity of his feet but he became a brilliant scholar.

Francisco loved the intellectual life he discovered at the school and the humble lifestyle of the brothers. Later wanted to join the order. In fact, he later wrote: "From the moment I entered the school of the Brothers, God gave me a burning desire one day to be clothed in the holy habit of the Institute. I always enjoyed being among the Brothers. . . ."

But his parents objected. They would be proud to have a priest in the family, but could not understand his desire to be a lay brother. Knowing that he had a calling to the religious life and not wishing to disappoint his parents, Francisco entered the seminary. Within a few months he fell gravely ill and was forced to return home. His mother finally agreed that he should try his vocation as a brother.

On March 24, 1868, Francisco became Miguel when he took the black and white habit of the De LaSalle Brothers at Cuenca. He taught languages (Spanish, French, and English) at his alma mater and a year later was assigned to the Beaterio at Quito. The six-year-old school had 250 pupils when he arrived and six years later had over 1,000. During this period Brother Miguel published his first of many books.

But writing and teaching secular subjects was not his primary joy-- his first love was preparing children for their first Communion. And it appears that his joy translated into learning: he was a very popular teacher. Brother Miguel saw his teaching as an apostolic vocation. He wrote: "In the miserable state of modern society, my divine Savior calls me to conquer souls, without really needing my help or without considering my absolute incapacity for any good. Can I be deaf to His voice? Can I be afraid of disappointment when He promises to be with me? Can I be so bold as to refuse this demonstration of love and gratitude? I must engage in all the works that I undertake with a spirit of love, of gratitude for the divine goodness which has been gracious enough to employ me for His glory and the salvation of souls."

Official recognition of Miguel's talents as an educator first came in the form of the appointment as a public examiner and inspector of Quito's schools. In the midst of these duties, teaching, and monastic obligations, Brother Miguel found the time to continue to be a scholar. He wrote textbooks, a catechism, poetry, and works of Christian spirituality. He gained special renown for his studies of Castilian Spanish, some of which became required texts for all schools in Ecuador. Eventually he was elected a member of the National Academy of Ecuador (1892; which included membership in the Royal Academy of Spain), the Académie Française (1900), and the Academy of Venezuela (1906).

In March 1907, he was summoned to Europe to translate more textbooks and other documents from French. The aura of civil and religious unrest in France made it urgent to translate the documents of the De LaSalle Institute into Spanish in order to ensure the continuance of the order's work outside France. Miguel fell ill soon after his arrival in April. Upon his recovery, he worked at the house on the rue de Sèvres in Paris. From Paris he wrote, "I have my room, some books, and a nearby chapel. That is complete happiness."

In July he was transferred to the motherhouse at Lembecq-lez-Hal near Brussels to continue his work and attend the generalate of his congregation in Belgium. He was allowed to stay in Europe so that he would have more time to write. When Miguel became sick in Belgium, he was sent to the institute's junior novitiate at Paremi de Mar near Barcelona, Spain, where he taught Spanish for a few months. The outbreak of civil unrest in Barcelona on July 26, 1909, led to attacks on religious and the destruction of Church property, which caused stress for all the brothers. It resulted in Brother Miguel catching a cold in January 1910, but his condition deteriorated rapidly until he died in the presence of his religious brothers on February 9, 1910.

Brother Miguel's reputation as a teacher and scholar was matched by the renown of his holiness. A popular cultus arose shortly after his death, especially in Spanish-speaking countries. From his earliest years he had such a strong personal devotion to Jesus and the Blessed Mother that they were living presences to him. He conversed with them as easily as with his brothers.

His first biographer wrote: "Our beloved Ecuadorian Brother was certainly not gifted by heaven with that sort of plastic beauty which so easily fades with years. Although rather tall in stature, his posture became stooped quite early in his life. His countenance was dark and somewhat emaciated, prematurely furrowed with wrinkles that came from his sufferings and his practices of mortification. Even so, his facial expression reflected in some indefinable way the beauty of his soul and the interior illumination of divine grace. This reverberated through his whole being which overflowed with a certain gentleness that came from his peaceful and kindly nature. His very thin lips always bore the glimmer of a continual and gracious smile. His eyes, limpid and transparent as those of the most innocent child, sparkled with the joy and serenity that could only be due to that indescribable peace of which Scripture speaks. In sum, the serene expression in all his features gave the impression that underneath there was a calm and imperturbable spirit."

His relics were returned to Ecuador during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and received a triumphant welcome upon their arrival in Ecuador on February 5, 1937. Within a short time, his tomb at Quito became a pilgrimage center. The government issued postage stamps in his honor and erected a monument in the public park of Quito for the centenary of his birth. At the dedication of the bronze and marble statue on June 4, 1955, 30,000 school children participated in a huge parade (Bentley, Walsh, The Scholar Saint).


Miguel Febres Cordero (1854-1910) 

religioso, del Instituto de los Hermanos de las Escuelas Cristianas

En 1863 los Hermanos de las Escuelas Cristianas abren una escuela en Cuenca (Ecuador). Entre los primeros alumnos figura Francisco Febres Cordero, nacido el 7 de noviembre de 1854. La educación cristiana comenzada en la familia recibe en la escuela nuevo impulso y desarrollo, gracias sobre todo a la lección de catecismo y al ejemplo de los educadores, y así vemos cómo la estrella de la vocación lasaliana no tarda en despuntar en el espíritu abierto del joven ecuatoriano. La oposición que encuentra por parte de sus padres, que quisieran encaminarlo hacia el sacerdocio, no le desalienta. Francisco, que desde sus más tiernos años acostumbra confiar a la Virgen todas sus cuitas, encuentra en Ella la fuerza para seguir adelante en su propósito. Finalmente, el 24 de marzo de 1868, obtiene de su madre la autorización para ingresar en el noviciado de los Hermanos: es la víspera de la fiesta de la Anunciación. Al revestir el hábito lasaliano, Francisco recibe el nombre de Hermano Miguel.

Con ello no cesa sin embargo la lucha por la fidelidad a su vocación. El padre de Francisco, aun habiendo aceptado la decisión de su esposa, no escribe a su hijo una sola línea en cinco años. Entre tanto, el Hermano Miguel inicia su apostolado en las escuelas lasalianas de Quito. El joven profesor sobresale en la enseñanza de la lengua y literatura españolas y, ante la carencia de manuales y libros de texto apropiados, se decide a componerlos él mismo. El gobierno ecuatoriano no tardará en adoptarlos para todas las escuelas del país. Con el correr de los años el Hermano Miguel dará a la imprenta otras obras, sobre todo del campo de la lírica y de la filología, las cuales le abrirán las puertas de la Academia Nacional. Compondrá también catecismos para la infancia, siendo la catequesis el campo preferido de su actividad apostólica. De modo especial, reclamará y obtendrá siempre para sí el privilegio de preparar a los niños a la Primera Comunión, dedicándose a esta delicada labor hasta 1907, fecha de su viaje a Europa. Este asiduo contacto con los niños contribuirá a forjar una de las características más notables de su espiritualidad: la sencillez evangélica: «Sed sencillos como palomas». «Si no os hacéis como parvulitos no entraréis en el reino de los cielos». De esa sencillez será expresión su tierna devoción al Niño Jesús. Con la sencillez evangélica brillan también en él las virtudes propias de la vida religiosa: la pobreza, la pureza, la obediencia. Sobre todas ellas resplandece la caridad, que se nutre en la piedad eucarística y en la devoción a la Virgen. Una evidencia se impone pronto a sus contemporáneos: «El Hermano Miguel es un santo».

Su santidad irradiará también en el viejo continente. En 1904, como consecuencia, en Francia, de las leyes hostiles a las congregaciones religiosas, muchos Hermanos de La Salle, no pudiendo ejercer su apostolado en su propio país, deciden expatriarse. Numerosos son los que optan por España y los países de América latina. La necesidad de procurar a esos valerosos lasalianos el conocimiento indispensable de la lengua castellana, mueve a los Superiores a trasladar al Hermano Miguel a Europa para que pueda dedicarse a la composición de textos apropiados para un estudio acelerado de dicho idioma. Tras unos meses de estancia en París, el Hermano Miguel se traslada a la Casa Generalicia de los Hermanos en Lembecq-lez-Hal (Bélgica).

Enteramente dedicado a su nueva tarea, su virtud no deja de irradiarse en su nuevo ambiente. Pero el clima belga, tan diferente del de su propio país, no le favorece, y los Superiores juzgan conveniente trasladarlo a España, asignándole como residencia el Centro internacional lasaliano de Premiá de Mar, en la provincia de Barcelona. Los jóvenes formandos admiran la cultura y la sencillez del Hermano Miguel no menos que su gran amor de Dios.

En el mes de julio de 1909 ráfagas de viento revolucionario llegan hasta Premiá de Mar y poco después sobreviene la "Semana Trágica". Ante la frecuencia de actos de violencia anticlerical, los Superiores se ven precisados a trasladar a Barcelona a formandos y formadores hallándoles un refugio en el embarcadero del puerto y luego en el colegio N.S. de la "Bonanova". En esos momentos trágicos el Hermano Miguel se hace custodio de las formas consagradas de la capilla de Premiá.


Pasada la borrasca revolucionaria los Hermanos regresan a Premiá de Mar. Mas ahora es el Señor quien llama a Sí a su fiel siervo. A finales de enero de 1910 contrae una pulmonía que su débil organismo no llega a superar. Tras una agonía de tres días y confortado con los santos sacramentos, el Hermano Miguel entrega su alma a Dios el 9 de febrero de 1910. La noticia de su muerte es acogida con emoción y llanto. La República del Ecuador proclama un duelo nacional.

Hermanos y exalumnos del Hermano Miguel rivalizan en admiración y encomio por sus virtudes. Los favores atribuidos a su intercesión no tardan en multiplicarse. En 1923 se inicia en Quito y en Cuenca el proceso informativo en vistas a la beatificación. Sigue en 1924 el de Barcelona. En 1936, durante la revolución española, se lleva a cabo el traslado al suelo patrio de los restos mortales del siervo de Dios, que reciben una acogida triunfal. La tumba del Hermano Miguel se convierte en centro de continuas peregrinaciones.

Siguen obteniéndose gracias y favores celestiales por la intercesión del Hermano Miguel; pero el milagro que ha obrado la curación de Sor Clementina Flores Cordero pone en buen camino la causa del santo Hermano hacia la Beatificación.

Llevados a término todos los requisitos acostumbrados, el Papa Pablo VI, el 30 de octubre de 1977 procede a la Beatificación del Hermano Miguel y a la del Hermano belga, Hermano Mutien-Marie. La grande asistencia de peregrinos venidos de Bélgica, del Ecuador y de Italia, la acertada ceremonia y las palabras inspiradas de Pablo VI en la homilía y en el Angelus, han hecho inolvidable ese día para todos los afortunados participantes en la solemne celebración de la Piazza San Pietro.

El mismo día de la Beatificación, precisamente durante el desarrollo del sugestivo rito, se realizaba otro milagro: la Señora Beatriz Gómez de Núñez, afectada de incurable "miastenia gravis", se sintió completamente curada. Ya antes, con toda la familia, se había confiado a la intercesión del santo Hermano, y, como coronamiento de sus oraciones, había querido venir a Roma para la Beatificación.
Esta curación, reconocida como milagrosa, conlleva la reapertura de la causa, y, en el Consistorio del 25 de junio de 1984, el Pontífice Juan Pablo II fija para el 21 de octubre del mismo año la fecha de la Canonización.

Hoy, el Papa Juan Pablo II, poniendo entre los Santos a este religioso ecuatoriano, ofrece a la Iglesia entera y particularmente a la del Ecuador el modelo de un religioso culto, pero sencillo y humilde, de un catequista totalmente entregado a la obra de la evangelización, de un educador que ha ayudado a tántos jóvenes y niños a encontrar el sentido de su vida en Jesús y a vivir su fe como don y compromiso.