Coll y Prat, Narciso

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Archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela, during the War of Independence; b. Cornellá de Ter, Gerona, Spain, 1754; d. Madrid, Dec. 28, 1822. He was a doctor of law, both civil and Canon; professor at the University of Cervera, Spain; and member of the Academy of Fine Arts of Barcelona. He took possession of the archbishopric of Caracas on July 31, 1810, just as there had been established a new political regime that would proclaim absolute independence from Spain the next year. That independence cost long years of warfare, during which Republicans and Royalists were alternately in power. In addition to the calamities of war, a terrible earthquake destroyed large parts of cities and towns. In Caracas alone, more than 10,000 persons died, almost a third of the population. In the face of the misery and helplessness of the populace, the archbishop showed extraordinary charity. As a Spaniard and appointee of the king, he was loyal to the Spanish authorities; but he also showed respect and obedience to the Republican authorities. Above all, with the authorities of either, he always tried to be a good pastor, preventing cruelty, interceding on behalf of those

persecuted by either faction, and helping those in need, while at the same time maintaining religious services, religious discipline, and the piety of the faithful. Bolívar recognized the virtues of the archbishop and therefore retained him in his position. On the other hand, the Spanish authorities considered Coll lax in his behavior toward the Republicans, and he was recalled by the king. On Dec. 8, 1816, he returned to Spain to answer the charges of dis-loyalty made by the Spanish leader Morillo. To justify himself, he wrote two extensive Memoriales, to which he attached numerous supporting documents. In 1822 he was appointed bishop of Palencia, Spain, but he died without assuming the office.

Bibliography: n. coll y prat, Memoriales sobre la independencia de Venezuela (Caracas 1960). p. leturia, Relaciones entre la Santa Sede e Hispanoamérica, 3 v. (Analecta Gregoriana, 101103; Rome 195960). n. e. navarro, Anales eclesiásticos Venezolanos (2d ed. Caracas 1951).

[p. p. barnola]