Miami, Fla., Apr 10, 2012 / 16:09 pm
Servant of God Fr. Felix Varela, a 19th-century educator and slavery abolitionist who advocated for Cuban independence, has been declared “venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of his heroic virtues.
“He was an exemplary priest, jealous for the salvation of the souls, motivated profoundly by his life of prayer, and by a fervent love of God and fellow men,” said a March 14 decree from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The congregation praised his “remarkable personality” and his “Christian and priestly virtues.” It unanimously recommended papal approval for the declaration.
The priest’s travels took him from Cuba to Spanish-held Florida in the early 1800s. He spent three years in Spain and lived in New York for 30 years before returning to Florida, where he died in 1853.