La huella de Manuel Belgrano en Candelaria: rezo del Rosario y mate amargo “bien caliente”

Maneco era Manuel Belgrano al frente del Ejército del Norte en su expedición al Paraguay. Aún era coronel y el ascenso a brigadier (general) le llegó justo el día de su derrota en Tacuarí. Del hombre a quien nada de la vida le fue ajeno, en un abanico de abogado, periodista y militar, se recordaron este domingo los 201 años de su muerte en la pobreza y el olvido de 1820.

En sabrosos recuerdos, con un estilo limpio de palabras rebuscadas y muy divertido, el padre Birkel se lució con anécdotas de su vida pastoral. Llegó a Misiones hacia 1910, actuando como pastor en Posadas, Candelaria, San José, Concepción de la Sierra.

Doña Petrona, a quien el Birkel le calculó ¨135 años a la hora de su muerte en 1913”, vivía en uno de los cuartos de un ranchito de madera y techo de paja del Hospital. Hasta ahí llegaba el sacerdote, encendido de fervor evangélico. Era un sector para enfermos contagiosos, “uno leproso, otro tísico y el tercero sifilítico”.

Y doña Petrona que pasaba con holgura los 100 años. ¿135? Parecen muchos, tal vez demasiado. Pero el sacerdote del Verbo Divino recordó que conoció a Don Maneco, durante su niñez en Candelaria. El prócer se preparaba para cruzar al Paraguay y lograr un desparramo de 54 soldados paraguayos, para luego avanza y ser derrotado en Paraguarí y Tacuarí.

Birkel dirigía entonces la escuela San Miguel al lado de la actual Catedral de San José. Luego fue trasladada y se convirtió en el Roque González de hoy. Los domingos visitaba el rancho de los enfermos de sífilis, tisis lepra. Y doña Petrona le contó que “yo vivía en Candelaria. Allí conocí a Don Maneco (Manuel José Joaquín del Corazón de Jesús Belgrano); le gustaba el mate amargo y bien caliente”.

“De las Ruinas (¿serán las de Candelaria?) una imagen de la Virgen María. Don Maneco era muy piadoso. Al caer de la tarde, soldados y vecinos rezábamos el Rosario”, agregó la anciana.

Luego contó –según el libro de Birkel citado en un anuario del Verbo Divino al cumplir en 1998 el centenario de la congregación en Misiones. El encierro por la pandemia obligó a este cronista a releer hasta los libros de Shakespeare, “Julio César” y “Hamlet”, todo Borges y cuando ya no quedaba más literatura en soporte papel, cayó en el libro de los verbitas.

Fue una epifanía el estilo divertido y las desopilantes anécdotas del cura verbita. Recordó que Petrona terminó su relato diciendo que “al mes los despedimos junto al río Paraná.

Don Maneco cruzó en balsa junto con unos cañones¨. Desde su cuartel general en Candelaria, cruzó a Paraguay y el 19 de diciembre de 1810, después de una victoria en Campichuelo, marchó hacia Encarnación, Itapúa.#ProduccionesEspeciales Belgrano y Misiones: todo lo que no sabías sobre la historia del creador de la Bandera lo vas a descubrir en 10 capítulos especiales de Misiones Online https://t.co/TLPlil4ZBe pic.twitter.com/slHJPmEaCz

Antes se tomó el tiempo de redactar un Reglamento –citando su condición de vocal de la Primera Junta- que garantizaba derechos civiles, políticos, de posesión de tierras y ocupación de cargos públicos y eclesiásticos a los misioneros.

Ligado a la Orden de los Dominicos, era devoto de la Virgen María a la que proclamó Generala del Ejército, en la Advocación de Nuestra Señora de la Merced, luego de triunfar en Tucumán en septiembre de 1812. Le entregó su bastón de mando, le rezó a diario como en Candelaria, y fue sepultado en la Basílica de Santo Domingo de Buenos Aires, a metros de su casa donde murió el 20 de junio de 1820.

La expedición a Paraguay fue un mal cálculo de la Primera Junta. Belgrano pensó que los paraguayos se sumarían sin combatir a los principios de mayo. El gobernador Bernardo Velazco se plantó en Asunción con un ejército de unos 6.000 hombres y ordenó avanzar contra Belgrano y su tropa.

Aunque Paraguay dependía del gobierno virreinal de Buenos Aires, los paraguayos rechazaron subordinarse a los “porteños”. Adhirió al Consejo de Regencia de España, pero al año siguiente, el 14 de mayo también inició su emancipación. Por raro que parezca fue el mismo Belgrano, junto a Vicente Echeverría, quien a fines de 1811 firmó un acuerdo con el dictador perpetuo de Paraguay, Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, el suelo de la actual provincia de Misiones entre otras zonas aledañas. Esa es otra historia.

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