19975 32¢ Padre Félix Varela
Issue Date: September 15, 1977
City: Miami, FL
Printed By: Sterling Sommer for Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Born in Cuba in 1788, Félix Varela attended the College and Seminary of San Carlos in Havana. By 1811 he was ordained a priest and, despite his youth, named a Professor of Philosophy at the college. He also taught physics, chemistry, Latin, and rhetoric.
An innovative educator, Varela was a firm believer in giving women the same education as men, and he actively lobbied for the abolition of slavery. He also published many philosophical pamphlets and books.
With the return of absolute monarchy to Spain in 1823, Varela fled to New York City. In the United States, he helped the poor and worked for racial, ethnic, and religious tolerance. Varela founded churches, orphanages, nurseries, and the country’s first Spanish-language newspaper. In 1832 he organized the New York Catholic Temperance Association for the care of cholera victims. During this terrible epidemic, he virtually lived in hospitals and nurseries caring for the ill.
Varela spent the final years of his life in St. Augustine, Florida, where he died in 1853. His former students honored his memory by building a chapel in the cemetery there. Two foundations bearing Padre Varela’s name, based in New York and Miami, continue his noble work.