Padre Salvi is a young Franciscan priest who was very sickly. He is said to have a thin body with pale skin and worn cheeks. In his eyes a far-away look resides. He wears a wide hat and a guingon habit. He also carries an ivory-headed ‘’palasan’’ cane.
Padre Salvi was described as wistful. He is said to be very strict in fulfilling his duties and would not do anything that will dishonor his reputation. He is the kind of priest who would close the church doors during his sermons. He rarely resorts to physical punishments, as he imposes fines on his erring subordinates. He also prefers to do constant abstinence and fasts which accounts for his poor health.
Padre Salvi is said to be the rival of the alferez. He is said to be a hypocrite and a miser. He was the curate who had punished Crispin severely for the missing gold in the collection box. He gradually became inattentive and taciturn after the latter's death. He has also slept very little and had poor appetite. He schemes and did quite a job at blackmailing Maria Clara regarding her paternity.
Role in the novel
Padre Salvi enters the novel in Chapter 5 where he stares at the beauty of Maria Clara breathlessly.
In Chapter 13, Ibarra confronted Padre Salvi about what happened to his father's corpse, to which the latter denied having any participation of. However, this has ignited the priest's animosity towards Ibarra. In Chapter 32, Padre Salvi was trying hard not to look unhappy that the young man survived the accident at the derrick. By Chapter 40, the priest's yearnings for Maria Clara become more obvious. He, and not Padre Damaso, appears to bethe real antagonist of the novel. He forced Maria Clara to surrender Ibarra's letters in exchange for Doña Pia's letters revealing the real father of Maria. When the latter became a nun at the convent of Sta Clara, he managed to satisfy the lust he had for her when he managed to become one of the priests who holds mass there.
Critical reception on Padre Salvi
Due to Salvi’s physique and sickly condition, he can easily be underestimated and is conceived as a weak contemporary of Padre Damaso. He can also be something of a comic relief in some point of the novel, notably being caught in between the fight of Dona Victorina and Dona Consolacion. It is during the progression of the novel that Salvi revealed his craftiness and his true cold-blooded nature where he would do anything to satisfying his needs and wants. He is somewhat also made to be the epitome of priests with uncontrollable sexual urges although Padre Damaso has also violated abstinence though it was not implied as much as Salvi was.
The name “Salvi” is meant to be ironic - it could mean salvación (salvation) or salvaje (savage). The former refers to the priest acting meek and pretending to save Maria Clara from the transgressions of being with Ibarra. The latter means wild, which pertains to how his lust consumed him ultimately and had totally destroyed the woman’s will to live. Padre Salvi represents the clergy during the time who disguise the yearnings of the flesh under the authority of the Church to get what they want.
Padre Salvi in real life
As most characters in Noli Me Tangere, Salvi was also based on a true person in the name of 'Padre Antonio Piernavieja. He was the hated Augustianian friar in the town of Bulacan in Cavite who was killed by patriots during the Revolution. He had taken advantage of his position to collect and forward to the Spanish authorities in Manila information concerning the insurgents' preparations and plans.
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