Balmaceda, Francisco

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Chilean ascetic; b. Ibscache, Oct. 2, 1772; d. Santiago, Nov. 2, 1842. He studied at the Convictorio Carolino and was ordained by Bishop Marán. Heir to a great fortune, he personally administered his hacienda in Ibscache. According to one of his biographers, "He took special care of the moral and physical well-being of its tenants"; he taught them prayers, reading, writing, and arithmetic; he also provided them with seeds and farming tools. Many families in Santiago lived on the crops from his hacienda. Upon his mother's death, he gave away to the San Borja Hospital, among other smaller donations, his farm in Ibscache and a second one he had acquired for that purpose. He kept nothing for himself, except 1,000 pesos per year and the modest house in which he lived. A tall, strong man, inflamed with zeal, he had great self-control and practiced asceticism to the point of appearing strange. During hot weather he wore heavy garments; when it rained he used to walk in the middle of the street, unmindful of the rain. For many years he lived on boiled vegetables. On the morning of Nov. 2, 1842, on his way to the chapel of some neighboring nuns where he used to celebrate Mass, he collapsed in agony on his own doorstep. Some considered him an eccentric; yet the majority of the people of his time, particularly the poor, thought him a saint.

Bibliography: f. de p. taforÓ, "Don Francisco Balmaceda," Revista de Sud-América 3 (Valparaíso 1862) 73541. e. balmaceda valdÉs, La familia Balmaceda (Santiago 1919) 10717.

[a. m. escudero]