Friar Jose Camilo Henriquez Gonzalez was a priest, author, politician, and is considered an intellectual antecedent to and founding father of the Republic of Chile for his passionate leadership and influential writings. He was also one of the most important early South American newspaper writers and wrote several essays, most notably the Proclama de Quirino Lemachez, which promoted Chilean independence and liberty. He also wrote under the pseudonym Quirino Lemachez.
Henriquez was born in a house that belonged to his grandmother Margarita de Castro, located on what is now Yungay street in the city of Valdivia, Chile. His parents were Rosa Gonzalez y Castro (1747-1798) and Felix Henriquez y Santillan (1745-1798), a former Spanish infantry captain. Although a native of Valdivia, Henriquez spent much of his youth away from the city. When he was nine years old, he was brought to Santiago de Chile for the start of his formal education at the Convictorio Carolino.
In 1784, at the age of fifteen, Henriquez was sent to study in Lima under the direction of his maternal uncle, Juan Nepomuceno Gonzalez, a member of the Order of Ministros de los Enfermos Agonizantes de San Camilo de Lelis. While in Lima, he was educated at a convent of his uncle's Order (usually referred to as simply the "Buena Muerte"), where, notably, he was taught by Friar Isidoro de Celis, an author of works on logic, mathematics, and physics, and a strong proponent of science, rationality, and humanism. After presenting proof of his limpieza de sangre (pure Christian blood), Henriquez joined the Order of Buena Muerte as a novice on January 17, 1787 and was officially ordained as a priest on January 28, 1790. Henriquez then cloistered himself to continue his studies. There he befriended Jose Cavero y Salazar, a fellow student, who would later become a prominent member of the first independent government of Peru and ambassador to Chile; throughout his stay in Lima, Henriquez frequented literary circles, associating with local socialites.
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