During the celebration of the 144th anniversary of the founding of the hermitage of Monserrat in Matanzas, the specialists of the Provincial Historical Archive found a book of visitor records dating from the year 19º5. The book was enabled since that year, but began to be used in 19º7, when the first signatures registered in the heritage enclave that exposes the Spanish and Catalan footprint in our city are displayed.
Carlos Torrent, current director of the Archive, said exclusively for Radio 26 that the initial objective of the investigation was to find the possible signature of Federico García Lorca in his visit in the 30s to the hermitage of Montserrat: “unfortunately in the book no The signature of the Spanish poet is recorded during his visit to Matanzas and the Hermitage, but to our surprise we find in the first pages the signature of Artillery Commander José Martí, firstborn of the Apostle of Cuba.”
The signature before the autograph of the son of José Julián Martí Pérez, the National Hero of Cuba, appears in the document on January 26th, 1907, the other signature that follows is January 28th, 1907.
Torrent explained that in the book of signatures the exact date of José Francisco Martí’s visit to Matanzas is not shown: “but by the dates of the readable signatures that precede him and those that precede it, it is to be assumed that the Chief of Artillery was in the city between January 26th and 27th , 1907 … It would be necessary to investigate and deepen the documentation, the press and literature of the time about this arrival of Martí’s son to Matanzas and with it his arrival to the Hermitage Monserrate and the time it was parked in the city, the investigation begins now with this curious finding …
“The date on which the Artillery Commander visits the city is also striking, which makes us establish other links and think that this stay was related to the figure of his father, due to the closeness of the signature as interesting as the date January 28th, birth of the universal Cuban. ”
When the most universal of all Cubans died, his offspring were 16 years old. Collect the story that José Francisco never got used to his father’s death. Together with Carmen, his mother, they struggled to recover Marti’s body. On May 23rd, 1895, Pepito writes to Gonzalo de Quesada. In the letter, the depth of the words reveals the deep regret for the lost father: «I am 16 years old, but the energies of my soul are all awake to mourn my father.»
Although they rarely saw each other, although the time for both of them was transformed into distance, José Francisco fulfilled his father’s last will, the same one that in his poems Ismaelillo called him “flying battles man”.
The son of the Apostle joined the fight, participated as an artilleryman in the battles of Tunas, Bayamo and Guisa, as well as at the site of Santiago de Cuba, in the Daiquiri Combat and in the embarkation of Cuban troops since that time sawmill. He also attended the battle of the Auras and those that followed each other until August 18th, 1898.
Milvia Rivero Leisea, director of the hermitage of Monserrate, appreciated that the visit of Martí’s son to the church may be closely related to the figure of his father, considering that the marriage of the Apostle took place in the Church of Our Lady of Monserrat, in Havana. For this reason, the Matanzas hermitage belongs to the National Chair of the Martian Studies Center.
Alexander Rodríguez Cuello, archival services specialist of the institution and institutional communicator of the same, discovered the book in one of the many shelves that this heritage entity has.
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Rodríguez Cuello tells Radio 26 that he was with the rest of the team of restaurateurs and archivists working in the warehouse, discovers the book on a shelf and realizes that the document is not collected in the classified funds of the institution until that moment where he decides to leaf through its pages and appreciate with his own vision the heritage and historical value that that unknown jewel possessed until then.
The book of signatures is in good condition, ready to be used by researchers and archivists. «Their pages present a high degree of acidity due to their prolonged age, it is a book that is 115 years old, however, we are working on its optimal protection and restoration,» said Alexander Rodríguez Cuello.
Carlos Torrent, director of the Archive, alleges that «the book certifies autographs of great personalities of the time and, among them, of marquises, scientists, doctors, politicians of renown and nobility.» The signatures of this book that includes great visits to the Hermitage of Monserrat from 1907, finalize in the document of the year 1961.
Many are the questions that from this discovery will rise in those who cultivate the love for the investigation of the history of Cuba. It remains to know in depth, what were the causes that left one day in January 1907, the autographed trace of the son of the National Hero of Cuba in the pages of the history of this city of rivers and bridges.