García Moreno: Victim for Faith and Christian Charity

From García Morena by Rev. Augustine Berthe (1877)

As background to the main narrative, Fr. Berthe outlines the history of Latin America in which, in the early nineteenth century, the Spanish were expelled by revolutionaries and the order of the states under the rule of the Sovereign Pontiff was progressively replaced by Liberal and Masonic ideas derived from the great European revolutions. The story of García Moreno, a future President of Ecuador, illuminates the great opposition between Catholic ideals and Liberal Masonic ambition. García Moreno would restore to Ecuador the Catholic state and reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. But like his Divine Master, he would finally be crushed by the forces of evil implacably opposed to God.

Early Life

García Moreno was born in Ecuador in 1821. His father died early and he was brought up by his devoutly Catholic mother. She, and a kindly monk, who offered to educate him, instilled into him a devout sense of Catholic piety which would influence his later political activity as well as his private life. Thinking he had a vocation, he went as far as receiving minor orders, but did not pursue this further. He became a lawyer in 1844, started a career as a journalist (opposed to the liberal government in power), and later, in 1849, visited Europe for a two-year study of the effects of the 1848 revolution.


He returned to find the country in the grip of anti-clericals. He became a senator and joined the opposition. In his zeal he led the country in two civil wars as their Commander in Chief against the forces of liberalism. He was the leader responsible for quelling assassinations and quashing revolutions, which required heroic efforts, involved sleepless nights, and riding up and down the country—a real hero.

Catholic President of Ecuador

After successfully conducting the wars, although reluctant, he bowed to circumstances and was made president, so great was his reputation after serving as a senator. This was confirmed by popular vote in 1861. He served as president of Ecuador for two terms, (1861–1865 and 1869–1875.) During his periods in office, above all else, he sought to remake Ecuador into a shining example of a Catholic state. He was personally pious (he attended Mass daily, confessed weekly, and received Holy Communion every Sunday—a rare practice before Pope Pius X).

He had the legislature consecrate Ecuador to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His 1862 concordat with the Church gave it more power over Ecuador than it ever had before or since. Catholicism, in a new 1869 constitution, was made the state religion as well as the only legal faith. García Moreno further strengthened the Church's interests that same year by signing into effect legislation which outlawed secret societies, such as the Freemasons, who took it very ill.


García Moreno came to the presidency of a country with an empty treasury and an enormous debt. To overcome this, he placed the government on stringent economy, and cut out the corruption which siphoned off tax money. This improved the financial status of the country and attracted foreign investment. The army was reformed, with officers being sent to Prussia to study. Houses of prostitution were closed, and hospitals opened in all the major towns. Railroads and national highways were built, the telegraph extended, and the postal and water systems improved. City streets were paved and local bandits suppressed. García Moreno reformed the universities and increased the number of primary schools from 200 to 500. The number of primary students grew from 8,000 to 32,000. To staff the enormously expanded healthcare and educational facilities, Jesuits and other foreign religious were brought in. Under his inspiration the missions were promoted to bring the faith to savages in the interior. For this he enlisted the Jesuits and Redemptorists.


All of his activities to promote the Catholic Faith enraged the Freemasons and, when he was elected for a third term in 1875, it was considered to be his death warrant. He wrote immediately to Pope Pius IX asking for his blessing.

I wish to obtain your blessing, so that I may have the strength and light which I need so much in order to be, unto the end, a faithful son of our Redeemer, and a loyal and obedient servant of His Infallible Vicar. Now that the Masonic Lodges are secretly arranging for my assassination, I have more need than ever of the divine protection so that I may live and die in defence of our holy religion and the beloved republic which I am called once more to rule.

García Moreno's prediction was correct; on 6 August 1875, he was assassinated on the steps of the National Palace in Quito, struck down with knives and revolvers, his last words being: "God does not die!" Faustino Rayo, with a machete, inflicted terrible wounds on him, while three or four others fired their revolvers. During this attack Rayo took a shot in his leg and was unable to escape with the others. So incensed was one of his captains that he shot Rayo dead on the spot.

The dying president was carried into the Cathedral and laid at the feet of Our Lady of the Seven Dolours. A priest administered Extreme Unction, and a surgeon tried in vain to stop his gaping wounds. The priest asked him to forgive his murderers and his look showed that he had done so. A quarter of an hour later, he expired to the sobs and tears of his assistants. On his body was found a relic of the true cross and some hand written notes worthy of a saint:

My Saviour, Jesus Christ, give me greater love for Thee and profound humility, and teach me what I should do this day for Thy greater glory and service.

Pope Pius IX declared that Gabriel García Moreno "died a victim for the Faith and Christian Charity for his beloved country."

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