José María Morelos y Pavón, at the age of fourteen, left his hometown of Valladolid to work on the hacienda of San Rafael Tahuejo, owned by Felipe Morelos, his father's cousin. There he learned corn and indigo cultivation and was fond of cattle raising and muleteer, a pastime that cost him a broken nose.
His wealthy great-grandfather, Pedro Pérez Pavón, had left a capital for his natural son José Antonio, provided he has ordained a priest and served a chaplaincy. When he left the seminary to get married, Morelos' mother pleaded for this capital to pass to her son as a direct descendant. Thus, José María Morelos found his priestly "vocation" at the age of 24.
He taught grammar and rhetoric for two years in Uruapan. He had a deep knowledge of the poetry of the Roman authors Virgil and Ovid, this knowledge helped him to write, with powerful prose, his insurgent proclamations.
Morelos wrote a devout novena to the miraculous image of the Lord of Carácuaro, the chaplaincy where he was parish priest.
Morelos had a son named Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, born in 1803, and a daughter named Guadalupe Almonte, born in 1809. Morelos faced the responsibility of procuring their upbringing and education, especially with Juan Nepomuceno, but with reserve due to the priestly celibacy he had to keep, so he did not give them his surname.
In the retreat from Cuautla, when breaking the siege on May 2, 1812, Morelos fell off a mule. The bruise became infected and he was sick for weeks.
In Oaxaca, Morelos was portrayed wearing for the only time in his life the uniform of captain general, a gift from Matamoros, adorned with a pectoral cross that belonged to the bishop of Puebla. It is the best-known image of the Generalissimo and the one that has reached our days.
He refused to be addressed as "highness", and preferred to take the title of "Servant of the Nation", which is inspired by chapter 10 of the Gospel of St. Mark: "But it is not so among you; but he who would be greatest shall be your servant; he who would be first among you, let him be a servant of all".
It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte, impressed by the campaigns and triumphs of Morelos, said: "With five men like him I would conquer the world".
Morelos was accused of treason, condemned to ecclesiastical degradation, and declared a heretic. Coerced by his executioners -who knew of his religious conviction- he recanted in exchange for receiving the sacraments before dying on December 22, 1815.