Firsts are always important because, well, they are first. In the first saint of Ecuador, we find a very important and interesting person. He was a religious who had a passion for teaching and a gift for learning and writing literature. Even as he was honored for his gifts, he remained humble and preferred to work in his classrooms in order to serve his students. Along the way, he became a national hero and beloved by the people of his beautiful country. His name is St. Miguel Febres Cordero Muñoz (1854-1910).
Educated by the Christian Brothers
Not too many years before Francisco's birth, the president of Ecuador, Gabriel García Moreno, who was concerned about education in his country, and a very committed Catholic, had asked if the Brothers of the Christian Schools would come to his country in order to begin to establish schools.
Formally recognized in 1725, the Christian Brothers, as they are commonly called had been founded by St. John Baptist La Salle. La Salle was a firm believer in the value of education for helping children to rise above difficult circumstances. Armed with this radical idea to provide education for as many as possible who would otherwise never receive and education, he led the teaching religious order in establishing many schools first throughout France and to several countries outside of France.
Francisco flourished at the school. He excelled in his studies and was known for staying after school in order to review his lessons and to help the brothers with their duties. The brothers grew very fond of Francisco and the seed of a religious vocation was planted. Indeed, when the President of Ecuador came to visit the school, young Francisco because of his academic record, was chosen to give the address by a student.
Becoming a Christian Brother
When his father understood that his son might want to join the Christian Brothers, he had Francisco pulled out of school and put into the seminary where he taught. The move proved disastrous for Francisco's health and he had to return home in order to recover. Through the persuasion of his mother Anna, Francisco's father finally allowed him to join the novitiate of the Christian Brothers in the capital city of Quito. All the same, Francesco refused to correspond with his son for the next five years.
A Teacher, Author, and Man of Letters
Twice to Europe
Image: St. Miguel Febres Cordero Muñoz
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