Born June 13, 1878 in Torrebeses (Lérida)
Professed September 15, 1895
Ordained a priest July 5, 1903
Shot October 19, 1936 in Mas Claret-Cervera (Lérida)
Father Manuel Font was born in the town of Torrebeses, within the province of Lerida on June 13 1878. He was baptized on the same day of birth in the parish Church of San Salvador. On July 5, 1880, he received the Sacrament of Confirmation from the Bishop of Lleida, in his pastoral visit to the parish.
His parents were Jose Font, a property owner and Raimunda Font a homemaker. They had several children. It was a Christian family of good values and honorable. For Manuel, it was the home setting which seemed to awaken his vocation.
He applied to the Congregation in Barbastro on November 11, 1890. Then he began the fundamental studies and continued with the Humanities, at the end of which he would leave for the Novitiate of Cervera. He arrived on August 24, 1894. After the Spiritual Exercises under the direction of Fr. Antonio Sanchez del Val, he would make his First Profession on September 15, 1895.
The study of Philosophy would take place in the same house of Cervera. During the first year of Philosophy, on November 9, 1895, he received Tonsure from the Diocesan Bishop. In the same house of Cervera, he also began his studies of Theology and received the four Minor Orders on May 20, 1900. In the summer of 1900, he would be transferred to Santo Domingo de la Calzada to continue with the third year of Theology. In this city, he received the Subdiaconate and Diaconate on June 29, 1902. The following year on May 6, he was ordained to the Priesthood from the Archbishop of Burgos.
A missionary in Fernando Poo.
On September 25, 1904, he boarded a steamer in Barcelona with a destination to the missions of Fernando Poo. He would arrived on October 17th, less than a month later. Immediately, he would go to Basile. Shortly after, he sailed for Elobey and in October of the following year, he was in Banapa. On December 27, 1905, he returned to Spain. His missionary experience lasted a little more than a year.
“It was a real shame, because he could have been very helpful for the Missions, not to have prevailed in a kind of idiosyncrasy that broke down a flower, his natural qualities. He had the innate ability for the arts and a great capacity for the management of foreign languages. In the short space of his residence in Corisco, he had excelled with the Benga language and was able to understand and communicate with the natives.
But to be attacked with the first fevers and the craving, because he couldn’t drink or have access to water during this time. They wanted to persuade and convince him of the opposite, to promote perspiration and sweat, but this type of treatment continued to accede to its mistaken belief, refusing to take water on such occasions. As a result. It would be a repetition of these attacks, impacting all operation of our ministries, for which, they had to recognize that he was unfit for the work assigned to a community and school. As a result, he was forced to return to the Penìnsula.”
In Spain, and the machination-machines.
Once he arrived to the peninsula, still sickly and mentally weak, he was sent to the house of Sabadell. Three years later, 1909, he would be assigned to La Selva del Campo without any clear assignment. In 1910, he took courses that focused on his ability to the arts and crafts and asked permission to engage in physical inventions, which was granted as a distraction, but his mental state did not improve and in November 1911, he was sent to Cervera.
In Cervera, he was still sick and wasn’t considered suitable for formal and constant work. At the same time, his imagination didn’t stop. The wildest things occurred with his logic and he often wrote to the General Government to obtain their authorization. It is striking how well written were the letters he wrote.
In 1913, he was assigned to Tarragona, also without any assignment or trade. But his imagination did not stop. In the middle of the year 1917, he was sent to Alagon to try new projects and in 1922, he returned to Cervera. Once again, back to Alagon with his imaginary illness. This constant movement was more than anything else and without doing anything, he returned to Cervera and then Mas Claret.
When he was in Barbastro, it could be said that he was a little self-absorbed, a little shy, but had confidence. According to his Master of Novices, his behavior was exemplary. It is also said that he was sometimes hasty and impressionable. He was reflective and docile. Because he had good intellectual qualities, he seemed to excel in his studies.
When Marxist persecution broke, he was living in Mas Claret. Here he followed the tenor of life as best he could. On October 19th, in the afternoon, armed militia tied some of the missionaries and took them to the outskirts of the farm to be shot.