José Trinidad Reyes

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José Trinidad Reyes
José Trinidad Reyes2.PNG
"Wisdom, not only distinguishes man from the beasts, but it gives him superiority and preference over his peers."[a]
Personal details
Birth name José Trinidad Reyes
Born June 11, 1797
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Died September 20, 1855 (aged 58)
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Nationality Honduran
Denomination Catholic
Parents Felipe Santiago de Reyes and María Francisca Sevilla
Profession Bachelor in Philosophy, Theology and Canon law

The Father José Trinidad Reyes y Sevilla (June 11, 1797 – September 20, 1855) is considered Honduras' national hero and is the founder of the Autonomous National University of Honduras, formerly called "La Sociedad del Genio emprendedor y del buen gusto" ("The Society of the Enterprising Genius and Good Taste"). He was a fighter against poverty and its causes, assisting the poor and insisting on their right to education in matters of faith, culture and science.

As contributions to culture wrote several pastorelas, reconstructed by Rómulo Durón, which are the first theatrical manifestations in Central America, and whose thereof representation established bases for the subsequent appearance of theatre in Honduras. These pastorelas was presented by Father Reyes in the Tegucigalpa's churches, one of these is "Navidad nuestra" ("Our Christmas"), which over time has converted a classic of Honduran contemporary theater owing to its harmonious mixing of different traditions presents on Honduran Christmas.

Reyes was a polemicist in favor of women's rights, this it is see reflected in his pastorelas, in which the female characters have much voice. Is celebrated a his document appeared under the pseudonym of Sofía Seyers, which is all a feminist manifesto, where Reyes pleads for that it will be realized on women the most basic right of education. Many of ideas expressed by Reyes in this article are inspired by the socialist French women and the illustrated ideas of French Revolution, of which the Father Reyes was a great divulger during his politic facet. Reyes had a willingness common to Enlightenment, the beast of Humanism and Sacred art.

He was convinced of the arts' importance (theatre particularly) as instrument for to civilize and to do to progress to the nations. During his life in Tegucigalpa fought big battles against fanaticism's excesses and the politic and religion superstition.


José Trinidad Reyes was born to Felipe Santiago de Reyes (a music teacher) and Mrs. María Francisca Sevilla in San Miguel country, Tegucigalpa. He was baptized on June 14 of same year, at three days old, by the Reverend Father Fray Nicolás Hermosilla, and his godmother was María Josefa Araurrenechea.

In 1804 he entered a private school in Tegucigalpa and began to learn the reading and teaching of Catholic faith with Miss Góme, one of called "the tezchers". At 1812, at age 15, he learned Latin. He took music classes from Friar Juan Altamiran, of the convent "Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes", and learned to draw from Mr Rafael U. Martínez, a Guatemalan painter located in Honduras.

On June 20, 1815, in order to continue his studies, Reyes left Tegucigalpa for León city (Nicaragua) under the guard of a farmworker named Miguel Álvarez. He was accompanied by devotees who were on pilgrimage to the town of "El Viejo".
In León city, he earned a bachelor's degree in Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law, and perfected his knowledge of music by getting a job as assistant of the Kapellmeister of León's cathedral. In 1819 he joined the "Convento de los Recoletos de León" (Convent of the Recoletos of León) as a novice, and later became a Subdeacon of that convent.

Diaconate and priesthood[edit]

In 1825, he began his religious profession as deacon and priest, receiving the orders from the bishop of the city, Garcia Jerez.

In 1825, due to the civil war unleashed in Nicaragua, the Recoletos was expelled and saw themselves forced to go to Guatemala. There, Reyes, studied the Greek and Latin classics, to the Spanish dramatists Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca and read some theatrical pieces from México, especialmente from Oaxaca and Chiapas, in addition also finished his humanist and religious education.

In 1828, with permission from his superiors Reyes returned to Honduras to spend some time close to his family. He passed through the town of Chiquimula and stopped in Esquinpulas, where it is said that he lost his sight for a few days. The afternoon of July 13 of same year, he arrived to the nearby town "La Concepcion" ("The Conception") —or Comayagüela— and at next day celebrated his first mass in church of "La Concepción".

After he installed in the vacant convent of "Nuestra Señora de la Mercedes", located in Tegucigalpa, "that would have of be until his death his habitual dwelling", as says his notorious biographer Ramón Rosa.

In 1830, Trinidad Reyes wrote in verse a birthday felicitation to General Francisco Morazán, then Central America's president.

In 1835, he rebuilt the chapel of temple in "La Merced" and the temples in "San Francisco" and "El Calvario". He also built the small temples in "Las Casitas", the temple "Soraguara" and "Suyapa", since then famous for its little virgin. He also helped to Sr Antonio Tranquilino de la Rosa in the reparation of the Parochial Church of Tegucigalpa, which was in ruins due to land tremors at 1809.

In February 1837 Reyes≈pronounced a praiser sermon to mark the restoration of Parochial Church of Tegucigalpa, where he opened his Mass called "El Tancredo". The same year, due to help and consolidation that he offered to the victims of Asian cholera, suffered an attack from this, and was saved after being "between life and death", according to Ramon Rosa.

In 1838, he wrote his "Second Pastorela" Micol, dedicated to Misses Juana y Rafaela Robelo. Previously had written Noemí that, according reliable sources, is his earliest work, written between 1828 and this year.

In 1840 he wrote an Auto Sacramental divided into three acts: Adoración a los Santos Reyes Magos, literally translated: Adoration to the Three Magician Kings, so called the Wise Men.

In 1841 he opened his pastorela Micol in Tegucigalpa.

In 1842 he was nominated in the list of candidates to occupy the Honduras' church diocese. However, was appointed the presbyter Mr Francisco de Paula Campoy y Pérez, who had been Vicar Departmental of Gracias. It Has been refuted, with reliable proves, the arguments of Dr. Ramón Rosa, who guarantees that Father Reyes was appointed Honduras' Bishop by Gregory XVI. In 1845 he traveled to city Comayagua, were trated [sic?] the recently consecrated Honduras' Bishop, Campoy y Pérez. Ramón Rosa declares that Reyes was there as detained by orders of General Francisco Ferrera.

On December 14 of that year, he installed himself at the Government House, the "Society of the Enterprising Genius and Good Taste", were later founded the Honduras Autonomous University, which Father Reyes was rector. He, as rector, gave an eloquent opening speech, which text has rescued by Esteban Guardiola in his History of the University of Honduras.

Portrait of Father José Trinidad Reyes, made by Teresa de Fortín, located at the National Gallery of Art.

In 1846 he went to Comayagua, and on May 23, wrote his Elegy to General Mr. Francisco Ferrera, on the death of his son Fulgencio. This composition shows, relatively, that it hadn't any enmity with General Francisco Ferrera, but the contrary, a familiarity.

In June 1847, he returned to Tegucigalpa due to his mother's death.

On September 19, Trinidad Reyes opened the Honduras' University, chairing the event with the chief of state Mr Juan Lindo and Bishop Campoy y Perez. That year, he organized the first Honduras' library called "Library of the Academy", and made operate the first printer of the Honduran country (too called the Print of the Academy), which was brought by General Francisco Morazán in 1829.
Also, Reyes brought the first piano to the city Tegucigalpa, which it's believed that was in the municipality Ojojona and was property of the Díaz Zelaya family, since this isn't historically proved.
This same year he wrote one of his acquaintances When..., satirical compositions and filled of family humor. To these, there are just conserved three numbers, written in tenths octosyllabic and ending with the exclamation "when".

In 1848 he wrote his well-known "Invitation to stroll to the lake" to the society of Tegucigalpa, dated on February 9, and made by petition of students.

In 1849, his father died, a victim of mental insanity.
On April 16 of 1850 Trinidad Reyes wrote his poem Honduras, which has six octaves in ten syllables and is dedicated to the Srs. Generals Mr. Gerardo Barrios, Mr. Trinidad Cabañas, and all soldiers, officers and chiefs of El Salvador and Honduras.
On September 29 of the same year, he wrote his poem To the independence, which consists of seven octaves in ten syllables, and a quartet of the same author, as epigraph.

On February 2, 1851, the Candlemas Day, he opened his pastorela Elisa, dedicated to the young ladies Juana and Jerónima Godoy.
By then he had written and opened his pastorelas: Neftalia, Selfa y Rubenia. The first was dedicated to the young ladies María and Isidora Reyes, who did the role of Séfora. The other two pastorelas were dedicated to the young ladies Manuela Vega, Juana Velásquez and Maclovia Bonilla.
This year too he announced for 1851 his pastorela Albano, which he dedicated to young lady Raimunda Milla, but, although it was rehearsed, never was opened. “It didn't perform because it was announced that would throw stones to the pastors due to the allusions to certain political personages”. This says Ramón Rosa.

On September 15, 1852, he pronounced his Politicalo-Religious Discourse at the opening of Central American Congress, met in Tegucigalpa, which was deputy of the nation. On October 10 he wrote and issued for this occasion his called Octaves to the deputys of the National Constituent Congress.

On September 10, 1853 he wrote her Canto Elegíaco, on the death of Bishop Mt. Jorge Viteri y Ungo.

In early 1855, Reyes started to get sick of stomach and was treated by the doctors Mr. Máximo Soto and Mr. Hipólito Matute. This year he published his Elementary Lessons of Fhysics, which in March, with the Printer of Academy, became a study book for the youth of the time.
Before June, he traveled to the city Comayagua, “to visit the illustrious bishop, Hipólito Casiano Flores, who had come to consecrate himself from El Salvador, and who he accompanied on his first Pontifical Mass”, says Ramón Rosa.
Near to die, he wrote his most poetically successful pastorela, Olympia, named probably by inspiration of the French feminist Olympe de Gouges, murdered by her struggle for equality between men and women. This work was dedicated to a young lady, Trinidad Boquín.
He retired to the country, to the neighboring village Soroguara —in late July possibly— to recover his health, and returned in late August to Tegucigalpa, where, he was in his deathbed since mid-September until his death on 20th of this month at ten hours, surrounded by his disciples and families in the room now occupied by the National Archive. His remains are buried in the Parish Church.


  1. ^ Translation from Spanish:“La sabiduría, no sólo distingue al hombre de las fieras, si no que le da superioridad y preferencia, sobre sus semejantes".