Gabriel Garcia Moreno--Regenerator of Ecuador - Mrs. Maxwell Scott


Congress assembled a few days after the funeral, and the Minister of the Interior presented the last message of the dead President, still stained with his blood.

It was received with indescribable emotion, and listened to in deep and reverent silence. "Some years ago," ran the message, "Ecuador daily repeated the sad complaint that Bolivar, the Liberator, made in his last message to Congress in 1830. I blush to say it: Independence is a boon which we have conquered, but it is at the expense of all others. Since, placing our hope in God, we have detached ourselves from the current of impiety and apostasy which carries away the world in these days of blindness, and reorganized ourselves in 1879 as a really Catholic Nation, everything changed for the better day by day, and for the prosperity of our dear country. . . . To justify my words it will be sufficient to give you a resume of our progress during these last years, referring to the official reports of each department for all that concerns documents or details. That we may clearly discern the ground covered during this period of regeneration, I will compare the present condition of matters with the state from which they started, not to glorify ourselves, but to give glory to Him to Whom we owe everything, and Whom we adore as our Redeemer and our Father, our Protector, and our God."

Moreno then recapitulated the progress made in all the various branches of administration: in education, public works, finance, missions, good works, proving by the official returns the immense development, moral and material, which had taken place in the country. He concluded with words which greatly moved the meeting: "If I have committed faults I beg your pardon a thousand and a thousand times, and this forgiveness I beg of all my countrymen with very sincere tears, begging them to believe that my desire has ever been for their good. If, on the contrary, you think I have succeeded in anything, attribute it in the first instance to Almighty God, and to the Immaculate Dispensatrice of the treasure of His Mercy, and then to yourselves, to the people, the army, and to all those who in the various branches of government have helped me with so much intelligence and fidelity to fulfill my difficult duties."

Congress was worthy of this last noble message from the President, and issued a manifesto in honor of him whom they declared to be "great, not only in the eyes of Ecuador but of America, of the whole world—for genius belongs to all peoples and to all centuries." In the Session of September 16th, it published a decree from which we quote the following passages: "considering that the most Excellent Don Gabriel Garcia Moreno by his vast intelligence, as by his high virtues, deserves to fill the first place among the children of Ecuador; that he consecrated his life and the rare gifts of his mind and heart to the regeneration and to the greatness of the Republic, basing his social institutions on the solid foundation of Catholic principles; that he loved religion and country so deeply as to suffer martyrdom for them, and so has in this manner left to posterity a memory rendered illustrious by the immortal halo with which God crowns heroic virtues, Ecuador, in the name of its representatives, accords to the memory of the illustrious Don Gabriel Garcia Moreno the homage of its eternal gratitude, and to honor him according to his merits awards to him the titles of Regenerator of his Country and of Martyr of Catholic Civilization.

It was also decreed that the hero's memory should be honored in various ways throughout the country. His bust was to be placed in public buildings, and the great road and the railways, which owed their existence to his energy, were to be called by his name, while a statue of the hero was to be erected in the Capital.

This statue of the President now stands in the Plaza Mayor close to the scene of his death, keeping guard over his beloved land. The pedestal bears these words: "To Garcia Moreno, the noblest of the sons of Ecuador, dying for his Religion and his Country, a grateful Republic."

In considering the history of Moreno's life, we see what became apparent to himself during the period of his probation, that one strong man can, with the grace of God, do immense things for his country. If it was not permitted to him to realize in all its perfection the ideal of government which he had formed, he at least succeeded in restoring his country in general to a fervent religious life, and to great material prosperity. This, in the midst of the tragic and revolutionary elements incident to the history of a people whose fiery and excitable nature produces struggles unknown to our calmer northern races, was a great achievement, and an object lesson to the unbelieving world. To use the words of a great Catholic writer regarding our hero, we see in him one who "had the audacity to desire to deliver his people from ignorance, liars, and oppressors; who brought them back to Almighty God in the light of faith, in innocence of life and in peace, and who finally gave his life for their salvation."