Cause of Canonization

Father Félix Varela y Morales

Father Félix Varela y Morales was born in Havana (Cuba) on November 20, 1788. Since he was a child he felt a vocation to the priesthood and was distinguished by his great intelligence and piety. At the age of 23 he was ordained a priest in the cathedral of Havana. He soon earned the admiration and appreciation of all for his exemplary life, his kind character, and his dedication to the ministry of teaching. As a professor for ten years at the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos in Havana, he formed an illustrious group of disciples, in whom he instilled love for God, the country and his neighbor. He also contributed significantly to the progress of science and literature in Cuba.

In 1821 Father Varela was chosen to represent Cuba in the Cortes of Spain, where he advocated for just causes and demanded the freedom of black slaves. In 1823, when royal absolutism was reestablished in Spain, he moved to New York, from where he proclaimed Cuba’s right to be an independent and sovereign nation. His prophetic voice awakened the conscience of the Cuban people. A very exemplary priest and full of zeal for the salvation of souls, Father Varela exercised the priestly ministry in New York for 30 years with admirable self-sacrifice and heroism. He founded schools for children, built churches and evangelized the poor. He was also a magnificent defender of the Catholic faith against the attacks of Protestant sects. As parish priest and Vicar General he deserved the admiration and respect of the faithful of New York. He always lived poorly, completely dedicated to the service of God and the humble people. His priestly ministry had the grace of enlightening consciences and attracting souls to God. Those who knew him in life considered him a saint. The last three years of his life were marked by illness, loneliness and poverty; but, without complaining about anything, he endured the contradiction and suffering with love and inner peace.

His spiritual strength was in prayer and the Eucharist. Father Varela gave his soul to God on February 25, 1853 in San Agustín de la Florida (USA). His mortal remains rest on the campus of the University of Havana.

In 1985, the Holy See authorized the Episcopate of Cuba to begin the canonical process on the sanctity of the Servant of God, Father Félix Varela. He was declared venerable on March 14, 2012 by His Holiness Benedict XVI.