February Feast Days

St. Miguel Febres Cordero

Francisco Luis Febres-Cordero y Muñoz was born in Ecuador on the 7th of November 1854 to Francisco María Febres-Cordero y Montoya and Ana de Jesús Muñoz y Cárdenas. His siblings were Aurelio Febres-Cordero y Muñoz and Ana de Jesús Febres-Cordero y Muñoz.

He was born with an infirmity of the feet that rendered him incapable of standing or walking. This was cured at the age of five when he received a vision of the Mother of God.At the age of eight he was—attributed as a miracle at the time—saved from being mauled to death at the hands of a wild bull. His mother took great care of him and also assumed charge of his education until he was nine. After the death of his mother he welcomed his stepmother Heloise Santillán and half brother Benjamín Febres-Cordero Santillán.

In 1863 he was enrolled into a school that the Brothers of the Christian Schools ran—an order that was a new arrival in the nation. He was selected to give the welcome address to President Gabriel García Moreno when the latter came to visit the school.

Muñoz became a member of that order on 24 March 1868, the first Ecuadorian to be received in it.He assumed the religious habit on the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation with the name of “Miguel”. He entered despite the opposition of his father and after several vain attempts he relented. He held the position of a school teacher in Quito for over three decades where he became known as a gentle and dedicated individual. He published his own school textbooks, including one for the teaching of Spanish, as well as odes and discourses on teaching methods. The government adopted some of his textbooks that were circulated across all schools. He also did research and authored books on literature and linguistics, which earned him membership in the Ecuadorian Academy of Letters in 1892, followed by the Academies of Spain, France, and Venezuela.As a result of his high standing in educational affairs he was elected to educational academies in his home in 1892 as well as in France and Venezuela. He conducted religious retreats and also helped to prepare children for their First Communion. He also served as the novice director for his order’s house from 1901 to 1904.

In 1888 he was sent as the representative to the celebration in which Pope Leo XIII beatified the order’s founder: John Baptist de la Salle. Muñoz was sent to Europe in 1905 in order for him to translate texts from French to Spanish for the order to use and he worked to that extent in Belgium. His health started to deteriorate in 1908 and he was transferred to Barcelona in Spain where he continued to work until his health would not permit him to do so. Yet strikes broke out and churches were burned which led to the evacuation of the order but despite this he managed to make a pilgrimage to Zaragoza.

He died in 1910 of pneumonia and was buried in Premià de Mar.He was exhumed during the Spanish Civil War and was found to be incorrupt. In 1937 his remains were transferred to Quito where his tomb became a popular pilgrimage site.

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