Ambrosio Larrea

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Catalina de Jesús Herrera

Catalina de Jesús María Herrera Campusano, known as Sor Catalina de Jesús Herrera (Guayaquil, August 22, 1717 – September 29, 1795) was a revered Ecuadorian religious figure and a talented writer. She demonstrated an early affinity for learning, thanks to her mother’s guidance in reading, writing, and religious education. Catalina embarked on a profound spiritual journey that led her to the Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena in Quito. There, she adopted the religious name “Catalina Luisa de Jesús, María y José” and dedicated her life to faith and contemplation. Her contributions extend beyond her religious devotion, as she left a lasting literary legacy through her autobiography, “Secretos entre el alma y Dios,” which was completed in 1760 and remains a source of inspiration for readers interested in her spiritual insights and reflections. Catalina de Jesús Herrera’s life and writings continue to be celebrated for their profound wisdom and devoutness.

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José de Orozco

José de Orozco (Riobamba, March 18, 1733) was a renowned Jesuit priest and poet. Educated at the University of San Gregorio Magno in Quito, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1748 and devoted himself to both religious service and academic pursuits. However, the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spanish territories in 1767 marked a significant shift in his life. After resettling in Italy, Orozco turned to literature as a means of expressing his feelings of exile and nostalgia, most notably in his poem “Lamentos de la musa de Chimbaraso aflijida con las penas de su destierro,” a deeply nostalgic poem reflecting his longing for his homeland. Among his other significant works, “La Conquista de Menorca” stands out as a monumental epic poem, earning Orozco a place among the great poets of the 18th-century Spanish colonial period.

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Pedro Pablo Berroeta

Pedro Pablo Berroeta (Cuenca, June 29, 1737 – Seville, Spain, July 15, 1821) was an acclaimed poet, Jesuit, and missionary, who left a remarkable footprint in the literature of the 18th century. Berroeta became a key figure during the Real Audiencia of Quito and is well-remembered for his masterpieces “La Pasión de Cristo,” a poem of 1026 royal octaves, and “Coplones del Viejo.” Despite facing expulsion from the Jesuit order and having to continue his religious work as a secular priest, Berroeta’s indomitable spirit led him to create profound literary works. His poetry, characterized by its raw emotional depth and nostalgic resonance, significantly shaped what is known as Cuenca poetics. Even two centuries after his death, Berroeta’s contribution to the literary world continues to be celebrated and studied.

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Magdalena Dávalos y Maldonado

Magdalena Dávalos y Maldonado (Chambo or Colta, 1725 – Guano, January 8, 1806) was an Ecuadorian scholar, literary figure, and talented artist in both painting and music, active during Ecuador’s Spanish colonial era. Her notable accomplishments are underscored by her distinction as the sole female member of the Escuela de la Concordia, also known as the Patriotic Society of the Friends of the Country of Quito (Sociedad Patriótica de Amigos del País de Quito). This influential literary society, founded by Eugenio Espejo, played a pivotal role in promoting Enlightenment thought and nurturing nationalistic sentiments in Spanish South America. Magdalena’s inclusion in this esteemed society highlights her exceptional intellect, education, and literary prowess, defying prevailing gender norms and leaving an enduring impact on Ecuador’s intellectual and cultural landscape. Today, her legacy is honored in Riobamba, where the city has dedicated one of its most significant schools and a small street in her memory, acknowledging her profound contributions to the arts and intellectual development of the region.

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Eugenio Espejo

Francisco Javier Eugenio de Santa Cruz y Espejo (Royal Audiencia of Quito, February 21, 1747 – December 28, 1795) better known as Eugenio Espejo was an 18th-century Spanish physician, writer, librarian, lawyer, and a pioneering figure in colonial Ecuador. Born in 1747, he was of mestizo origin and became a notable scientist and writer, but his true impact lies in his role as a polemicist and advocate for separatism in Quito. Espejo was the first journalist and hygienist in Quito, using his platform to spread enlightened ideas and critique the lack of education, corruption, and cultural aspects of the colonial authorities. He composed an important treatise on sanitary conditions, showcasing his understanding of microorganisms and their role in disease transmission. Espejo’s satirical works, inspired by the Age of Enlightenment, made him a target for persecution, leading to his imprisonment shortly before his death in 1795. Despite his hardships, Eugenio Espejo is regarded as one of the most important figures in colonial Ecuador and left a lasting legacy as a champion of education, science, and social reform.

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Juan de Velasco

Juan de Velasco y Pérez Petroche (Riobamba, January 6, 1727 – Faenza, Italy, June 29, 1792) was an influential 18th-century Jesuit priest, historian, and professor of philosophy and theology from the Royal Audience of Quito. He dedicated his life to intellectual pursuits and made significant contributions to various fields of study. Velasco’s most notable work, “Historia del Reino de Quito,” sheds light on the existence of a pre-Inca kingdom in Ecuador, leaving a lasting impact on the country’s historical narrative. His scholarly endeavors extended beyond history, as he also wrote textbooks on physics and anthologies of poetry. Velasco’s versatile expertise and commitment to knowledge continue to be admired, making him a celebrated figure in Ecuadorian intellectual and cultural heritage.

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Manuela de la Santa Cruz y Espejo

Manuela de la Santa Cruz y Espejo, also known by her pseudonym Erophilia in her articles (Quito, December 20, 1753 – Quito, 1829) was an Ecuadorian journalist, nurse, feminist, and revolutionary. She was the sister of Eugenio Espejo, with whom she discussed and shared Enlightenment and revolutionary, pro-revolutionary thought and ideas.

Juan Bautista de Aguirre

Father Juan Bautista de Aguirre y Carbo (Daule, Ecuador, April 11, 1725 – Tivoli, Italy, June 15, 1786) was a writer, poet, philisopher, theologian and Jesuit priest from colonial South America. Aguirre wrote poems of varying topics, including religious, moral, and love poems. Aguirre taught in Quito at the San Gregorio Magno University until the Jesuits were expelled from Spanish America in 1767. On August 20 of that year he left South America from Guayaquil bound for Faenza, Italy, where the Jesuits of Quito had taken refuge. Once in Italy, Aguirre was the superior of the Jesuit convent school in Ravenna and rector of the college in Ferrara. After the Order of the Jesuits was terminated by Pope Clement XIV in 1773, he settled in Rome under the papacy of Pope Pius VI. He was a friend of the bishop of Tivoli, Monsignor Gregorio Bamaba Chiaramonti, future Pope Pius VII.

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