Padre Florentino is the secular Filipino priest and the uncle of the student leader, Isagani, in Jose Rizal’s novel, El Filibusterismo . He is best remembered as the friar whom the dying Simoun confessed to.
Padre Florentino is described in the novel as an old man with gray hair. He is quiet man; he prefers not to mingle with other people not because of arrogance. The priest is in his best health but he exudes a sad melancholic air. He is different from the other priests of his time because he refused to lead a parish but instead lives in the estate he inherited from his parents. He thinks that it is better that way to keep himself away from the public eye especially after the hanging of the three secular priests, Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora.
Padre Florentino was from a rich and influential family in Manila. He did not plan to be a priest but his mother obliged him to since she was a close friend of the Archbishop. He had become a priest at 25 years old. Weeks before his first mass, the love of his love married a nobody. This hurt him so much that life had become dull for him. The priest was also an accomplished musician and he often expressed his sadness through his music.
Padre Florentino adopted his nephew, Isagani. Rumormongers assumed that the boy was actually his son by his former girlfriend. In truth, Isagani was the son of a cousin who lived in Manila.
Role in the novel
It was in Padre Florentino’s home that Simoun sought shelter after being wounded. When Simoun died, the priest took his remaining jewels, threw them all to the sea, and prayed that whoever finds them will use them for the greater good and not to fund corruption and abuse that can spark a revolution.
Padre Florentino represented the secular Filipino priests in Rizal’s time. It was also through his character that the author stressed his disapproval of a bloody revolt.
In the last scene with the dying Simoun, the priest says, “I do not mean to say that our liberty will be secured at the sword’s point, for the sword plays but little part in modern affairs, but that we must secure it by making ourselves worthy of it, by exalting the intelligence and the dignity of the individual, by loving justice, right, and greatness, even to the extent of dying for them,—and when a people reaches that height God will provide a weapon, the idols will be shattered, the tyranny will crumble like a house of cards and liberty will shine out like the first dawn.”
It became clear then that Rizal proposed education and greater enlightenment of the indios as the solution to the ills of the society.
- El Filibusterismo. WikiFilipino.
- El Filibusterismo/The Reign of Greed: Charles Derbyshire English translation. Filipiniana.net. (Accessed 7 June 2011).
- Mga Tauhan ng El Filibusterismo. Pinoy Henyo. (Accessed 7 June 2011).
- El Filibusterismo: Mga Tauhan. JoseRizal.ph. (Accessed 7 June 2011).
- The Characters (The Summary of “El Filibusterismo”). KapitBisig.com. (Accessed 7 June 2011).
- El Filibusterismo Chapter Summary. (Accessed 7 June 2011).