171. Rizal, Gand, 23 August 1891

  Pleasant recollections of Father Leoncio López. - Anecdotes - He is the Father Florentino of the Noli - His moral physiognomy traced by Rizal.

  9 Rue de Hainaut, Gand
23 August 1891
  My Brother,

Thanks for your letter. I answer it: at once, briefly and clearly, for it is for me a satisfaction to speak of the late curate of my home town.

Father Leoncio López was a native Filipino, but he was no exception. You took him for a Franciscan friar when you spoke about the curate of my home town in the Solidaridad. He was more cultured than one can imagine. He was tall, straight, and distinguished; cultured but timid and tender. His best friend was my father and I his young friend. Formerly we were not in friendly terms, for, when I wrote a poem at the age of fourteen, he said that the poem could not be mine, that I ought to have copied it from some book. This irritated me and I answered him furiously. My mother, who was present, got angry with me. Half a year later, Father Leoncio came to known from the Jesuits that I have again composed poems and the old man - he was then 70 - made a trip to Manila, visited me at the Ateneo Municipal, and apologized to me. This gesture of his made me his best friend and since then we have been the best friends in the town. Despite his timidity, he always took my side against the civil guard. We loaned each other our books, and when I left the Philippines secretly,(1) I asked him to console my parents. The letter he wrote me is to me a valuable treasure. He said that his only wish before leaving this world was to see me again and clasp my hand. He said that this was his intimate wish. But he died before I had written my Noli. He was related to my family. He was a just, liberal, and tolerant man. You will see his portrait in my new book; I call him Father Florentino. He was a musician, poet, and naturalist. He never meddled in politics. He never had anything to do with the election of the gobernadorcillo. We were at peace.

His successor, Father Gabino, also a native, was as good as he was. He resembled him physically, even in the face, but he was not as cultured. However, he was much more devout in the Catholic sense of the word. Father Leoncio will always be for me a beautiful memory.


  Greet Isabelo for me; I want to forget everything and I beg him to reconcile with me.
(1) That is, secretly from his parents.

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