Biography of José Trinidad Reyes

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  • Father José Trinidad Reyes y Sevilla is one of the heroes of Honduras and founder of the Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) . He was born on June 11, 1797 in San Miguel de Tegucigalpa, his parents were Felipe Santiago de Reyes and Mrs. María Francisca Sevilla.

    He was baptized on June 14 of the same year, at 3 days old, by the Reverend Father Fray Nicolás Hermosilla, and his godmother was María Josefa Araurrenechea. Your full name is read on your baptismal certificate; Juan José Sahagún of the Holy Trinity.

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    He was a fighter against poverty and its causes, assisting the poor and insisting on their right to education not only in matters of faith, but also in secular matters such as culture.

    In 1804 he entered a private school in Tegucigalpa and began to learn the reading and doctrine of the Catholic faith with Miss Gómez, one of the so-called “the teachers”. In 1812, at the age of fifteen, he learned the Latin language thanks to the friar Juan Altamirano, from the convent of Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, he also received drawing classes under the direction of Don Rafael U. Martínez, a Guatemalan painter based in Honduras. as well as music classes.

    On January 20, 1815, he left Tegucigalpa for the city of León (Nicaragua), in order to advance in his studies, under the guard of a farmer from the La Plazuela neighborhood, named Miguel Álvarez, and accompanied by the devotees who went on a pilgrimage to the town El Viejo, in the city of León.

    While there, he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law and, while studying, a position as assistant to the Chapel Master at the Cathedral of León, where he perfected his knowledge in music.

    Defender of women’s rights

    Reyes was a polemicist in favor of women’s rights, this is reflected in his shepherds, where the female characters are women with a lot of voice. A writing of hers that appeared under the pseudonym of Sofía Seyers is famous, which is a whole feminist manifesto, where Reyes advocates that the most elementary right of education be fulfilled in women.

    Many of the ideas expressed by Reyes in that article are inspired by the French socialists and by the enlightened ideas of the French Revolution, of which Father Reyes in his political facet was a great popularizer.

    Promoter of art and culture

    Reyes had a spirit related to the Enlightenment, the best of humanism and religious art. He was convinced of the importance of the arts (theater in particular) as instruments to civilize and advance nations. During his life in Tegucigalpa he fought great battles against the excesses of fanaticism and political and religious superstition.

    As contributions to culture, he wrote several pastorelas, reconstructed by Rómulo Ernesto Durón, which are the first theatrical manifestations in Central America, and whose representation of them, established the foundations in Honduras for the later appearance of the theater.

    These pastorelas were presented by Father Reyes in the churches of Tegucigalpa, one of these is Our Christmas, a classic of contemporary Honduran theater for its harmonious mixture of the different traditions present in Honduran Christmas.

    Life as a deacon and priest

    “What was a disgrace for the religious communities was a great fortune for Honduras.”
    —Ramón Rosa, referring to the exile of Father Reyes to Honduras.

    In 1825, due to the civil war unleashed in Nicaragua, the Recollects were expelled and were forced to go to Guatemala. There, Reyes, studied the Greek and Latin classics; to the Spanish playwrights Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca and recognized some theatrical pieces brought from Mexico, especially from Oaxaca and Chiapas, and also completed his humanistic and religious training. In 1828, with the permission of his superiors, Reyes returned to Honduras to spend a time with his family; it passed through the city of Chiquimula and stopped in Esquipulas; where it is said that he lost his sense of sight, although he was healed within a few days.

    On the afternoon of July 13 of the same year, he arrived at the neighboring town of La Concepción, or Comayagüela, and the next day he celebrated his first mass in the church of La Concepción. Unable to return to Guatemala due to the war that then existed between the conservatives led by Mariano de Aycinena y Piñol and the liberal troops of General Francisco Morazán, he settled in the unoccupied Convent of Nuestra Señora de la Mercedes, located in Tegucigalpa, “which had to be until his death, his usual home.

    In 1830 he wrote a birthday greeting in verse to General Francisco Morazán, then president of Central America, and in 1835 he rebuilt the chapel of the La Merced temple and the San Francisco and El Calvario temples. He also built the small temples of Las Casitas, the temple of Soraguara and that of Suyapa, the latter famous for its little virgin. He also helped Mr. Antonio Tranquilino de la Rosa in the repair of the Parish Church of Tegucigalpa, which was in ruins due to earthquakes in 1809.

    In February 1837 he delivered a panegyric sermon on the occasion of the restoration of the Parish Church of Tegucigalpa, where El Tancredo premiered his mass; the same year, due to the help and consolation he offered to the victims of the Asian cholera that ravaged neighboring Guatemala, he suffered an attack from it, but managed to save himself after being seriously ill.

    In 1838 he wrote his Second Pastorela, called Micol, dedicated to young ladies Juana and Rafaela Robelo. Naomi had previously written which, according to reliable sources, is the oldest of all, written between 1828 and this year.

    In 1840 he wrote his self Adoración a los Santos Reyes Magos, divided into three acts and in 1841 he premiered his pastorela Micol in Tegucigalpa.

    Election of the Bishop of Comayagua

    In his biography of Father Reyes, the liberal writer Ramón Rosa assures that Father Reyes had been proposed for bishop of Honduras when the priest Jorge Viteri y Ungo went to Europe in 1840 to visit Pope Gregory XVI, and that General Francisco Ferrera, Then President of the State of Honduras – supposedly suspicious of Reyes’ independent ideas – sent the news to the Vatican that Reyes had died, for which the pope appointed him as bishop of the Diocese to the priest Campoy y Pérez, and that when he returned from Guatemala to Comayagua. In 1845, Father Reyes was there, as a detainee by order of General Ferrera. However, in a critical edition of the work in 1891, José Vicente Martínez explained that he carried out detailed investigations to clarify these facts, since Rosa did not explain the sources that he used.

    Martínez’s investigations show that Viteri y Ungo was not in Rome in 1840, since it was until April 6, 1841, that the government of El Salvador communicated to the government of Honduras that, authorized by Congress, it had appointed the priest Viteri y Ungo. his representative before the Holy See to request that the diocese of San Salvador be created and that he invited Honduras to send its candidates to the diocese of Honduras and thus take advantage of Viteri’s trip to both states.

    Honduras accepted and on February 18, 1842, it issued an agreement providing that the list of candidates be sent to the envoy, Mr. Viteri y Ungo; among the candidates was Father Reyes. The agreement was communicated to the curate vicar of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Guatemala, Antonio Larrazábal, who would choose those to be proposed.

    Viteri y Ungo represented the governments of GuatemalaHondurasEl Salvador and Costa Rica before the Pontificate, and was received in a public audience by Pope Gregory XVI in the Quirinal Palace, on August 26, 1842. After the meeting with the pontiff, Viteri and Ungo sent two communiqués to the government of Honduras; the 1st. September 1842 reported that the new Bishop of Honduras, perhaps would be recommended in November and that the only serious obstacle was the lack of the seven hundred pesos necessary to pay for the expedition of the Bulls.

    On October 19, he communicated again with the Honduran government, stating that the bishop had already been elected – without mentioning his name – and that funds were urgently needed for the advocacy in November. Meanwhile, on September 13, Provisor José Xicolás Irías died in retirement, who before his death conferred the appointment of Interim Provisor of this Diocese to Campoy y Pérez.

    This appointment was approved by the Government and confirmed by the Governor of the Metropolitan Church and by the Archbishop Fray Ramón Casaus. The new Provisor moved to Comayagua on December 9, 1842. On September 31, General Ferrara ended his two-year presidential term and left power to his Council of Ministers.

    The council was the one that received the communications from Viteri and approved the payment of the $ 700.00 necessary for the expedition of the Bulls. Some of the candidates had already died, and the Council considered that the ideal candidate then was the priest of Paula Campoy. The Diocese of San Salvador was erected in the Bull of October 4, 1842, and Señor Viteri was named its first Bishop. On January 29, 1843, he was consecrated as such in Rome, and immediately began his return to Central America.

    While in Paris, he received the new list that the Honduran government had sent him and immediately sent it to Rome with the attached file; the Pope approved the canonical process, which Viteri communicated on August 6, 1843 upon his arrival in Trujillo.

    The Bull in which Mr. Campoy was named Bishop of Comayagua was dictated on February 8, 1844, granting the person the grace of dispensing the degree of Doctor, which was then an essential requirement to be bishop at that time.

    Regarding the alleged Reyes prison, the documents that Martínez investigated showed that there was no arrest of the priest. However, in 1845 he did travel to the city of Comayagua, where he treated the recently consecrated Bishop of Honduras, Campoy y Pérez.

    Founder of the National Autonomous University of Honduras

    On December 14 of this year, the so-called “Entrepreneurial Genius and Good Taste Society” was installed in the Government House, cradle of the National Autonomous University of Honduras and of which Father Reyes was rector and founder. Reyes, as rector, delivers on this occasion an eloquent opening speech, the text of which has been rescued by the revered teacher Esteban Guardiola in his history of the University of Honduras.

    In 1846 he found himself again in Comayagua, where he wrote his Elegy to General Don Francisco Ferrera on May 23, on the death of his son Fulgencio. This composition shows, relatively, that there was no enmity with General Francisco Ferrera, on the contrary, the text proves a recognized familiarity.

    In June 1847, his mother died in Tegucigalpa, for which Reyes returned to that city. On September 19, Reyes inaugurated the University of Honduras, presiding over the event with the Head of State Juan Lindo and Bishop Francisco de Paula Campoy y Pérez. This same year, he organized the first Library of Honduras, called the Academia Library and operates the first Printing House in the country (also called the Academy Printing House) that was taken to Honduras by General Francisco Morazán in 1829 after confiscating it in Guatemala.

    Also, Reyes brought the first piano to the city of Tegucigalpa, which is believed to be in the municipality of Ojojona, and was owned by the Díaz Zelaya family, as it is not historically proven. This year he wrote one of his acquaintances When…, satirical compositions full of familiar humor. Only two copies of these compositions remain, written in tenths of eight syllables and ending with the exclamation “when”.

    Last years of José Trinidad Reyes

    In 1848 he wrote, in an invitation that the students made to the society of Tegucigalpa , his acquaintance: Invitation for the walk to the lagoon, dated February 9 and in 1849 his father died, a victim of mental derangement.

    On April 16, 1850, Reyes wrote his poem Honduras, which consists of six octaves in decasyllables and is dedicated to General Gerardo Barrios, Don Trinidad Cabañas, and to all the soldiers, officers, and chiefs of El Salvador and Honduras. On September 29 of the same year he wrote his poem To Independence, which consists of seven octaves in decasyllables, and a quartet by the same author, as an epigraph.

    On February 2, 1851, Candlemas day, he premiered his Pastorela Elisa, dedicated to young ladies Juana and Jerónima Godoy. It was premiered by the Señoritas Teodora González, after Vigil and Don Juan Ramón Pereda. By then he had already written and premiered his Pastorelas: Neftalia, Selfa and Rubenia.

    The first was dedicated to the ladies María and Isidora Reyes, who was chosen for the role of Séfora. The other two shepherds were dedicated to Señoritas Manuela Vega, after Ugarte; Juana Velásquez, after Bonilla and Maclovia Bonilla, after Dávila.

    This year he also prepared his Pastorela Albano, which he dedicated to Miss Raimunda Milla, whose premiere was announced for 1851, but which was finally only rehearsed. «It was not represented because it was announced that they would stone the shepherds due to allusions to certain political figures. Others affirm that despite the threat, the representation was given.

    On September 15, 1852, he gave his Political-Religious Speech at the inauguration of the Central American Congress, meeting in Tegucigalpa, in which he appeared in the front line, as the nation’s deputy. On October 10, he wrote and made known for that occasion his call eighth to the deputies of the National Constituent Congress.

    On September 10, 1853 he wrote his Canto Elegíaco, on the death of the bishop of León, Nicaragua, Jorge Viteri y Ungo.

    Death of José Trinidad Reyes

    He died on September 20, 1855 in Tegucigalpa. At the beginning of 1854, the King began to get sick to his stomach and was treated by doctors Don Máximo Soto and Don Hipólito Matute. This year he published his elementary Physics Lessons, which in March, with the Academy Press, became a textbook for the youth of the time.

    Before the month of June, he undertook a trip to the city of Comayagua, “to visit the most illustrious Bishop, Don Hipólito Casiano Flores, who had come to consecrate himself from El Salvador, and whom he accompanied at his first Pontifical Mass”, says Ramón Rosa.

    Close to dying, he wrote his most poetically accomplished pastoral, Olimpia, a name that is probably inspired by the French feminist Olimpia de Gouges, murdered during the French Revolution for her fight for equality between men and women, since Reyes defended the rights of women. . This work was dedicated to Miss Trinidad Boquín.

    He retired to the neighboring village of Soroguara – possibly at the end of July to regain his health, and returned at the end of August to Tegucigalpa, where he remained in bed from mid-September until his death on September 20, at 10:00 a.m. Tomorrow, surrounded by his disciples and family members, in the room that today occupies the National Archive and which overlooks the backyard of the building. His remains are buried in the presbytery of the Cathedral Church, on the north side.


    Biography of José Trinidad Reyes
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