The plaque below is located on a large block of stone adjacent to the Padre's statue.
The following information about Padre Varela is from Wikipedia:
"Félix Varela y Morales (November 20, 1788-February 27, 1853) was a great notable figure in the Roman Catholic Church in both Cuba and the United States."
"He was born in Havana, Cuba and died in St. Augustine, Florida, United States. He studied to become a Roman Catholic Priest in San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary in Havana, the only seminary in Cuba. He also studied at the University of Havana. At the age of 23 he was ordained in the Cathedral of Havana."
"Joining the seminary faculty within a year of his ordination, he taught Philosophy, Physics, and Chemistry. In his position there, he taught many illustrious Cubans, including José Antonio Saco, Domingo del Monte, Dr. José de la Luz y Caballero, and Felipe Poey. Referring to Varela, Dr. De la Luz said; "As long as there is thought in Cuba, we will have to remember him, the one who taught us how to think." José Martí's teacher Rafael María de Mendive was also Varela's disciple."
"Varela joined in a petition to the Spanish Crown for the independence of Latin America, and also published an essay which argued for the abolition of slavery in Cuba. For such ideas, he was sentenced to death by the government. Before he could be arrested, however, he sought refuge in Gibraltar and later emigrated to the United States, where he spent the rest of his life."
"Varela was the founder of the first Spanish-language newspaper in the U.S., publishing many articles about human rights, as well as multiple essays on religious tolerance, cooperation between the English and Spanish-speaking communities, and the importance of education. He published other newspapers in Spanish, including "El Habanero" and "El Mensajero Semanal," and also published "The Protestant Abriger" and "Annotator" in New York."
"In 1837, he was named Vicar General of the Diocese of New York, which then covered all of New York State and the northern half of New Jersey. In this post, he played a major role in the way the American Church dealt with the tremendous influx of Irish refugees, that was just beginning at the time. His desire to assist those in need coupled with his gift for languages allowed him to master the Irish language in order to communicate more efficiently with many of the recent Irish arrivals. He was later named a Doctor of Theology by St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland."
"Nearly sixty years after his death in Florida, his body was returned to his homeland and laid to rest in the University of Havana's Aula Magna. This Servant of God has not yet been beatified. If canonized, he would be the first Cuban-born person to be honored on the altars of the Catholic church."
"The Cuban government has created an award bearing his name, entitled the "Orden Félix Varela", which is awarded to those whom the government deems to have contributed to Cuban and worldwide culture."
"His name is currently associated with a project proposed by the Christian Liberation Movement in Cuba, named Proyecto Varela, which was announced to the Cuban people on government-owned TV and radio stations in Cuba by United States President Jimmy Carter. In 1997 the United States Postal Service honored Varela by issuing a 32-cent commemorative stamp. Because of his experiences, many in the Cuban American exile community identify with him."