Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur

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Saint Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur
Statue of Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur in the Cave of Santo Hermano Pedro (Tenerife).
Born March 21, 1626
Vilaflor, Tenerife
Died April 25, 1667
Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Beatified June 22, 1980, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican by Pope John Paul II
Canonized July 30, 2002, Guatemala City, Guatemala by Pope John Paul II
Major shrine Cave of Santo Hermano Pedro and Sanctuary of the Santo Hermano Pedro (Tenerife) and San Francisco Church in Antigua, Guatemala
Feast April 24 (because the 25 the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist).
Attributes Holds a walking stick and bell
Patronage Canary Islands, Guatemala, catechists of Guatemala, Honorary Mayor of municipalities in the south of Tenerife and Honorary Mayor of Antigua Guatemala, of those who are homeless.
Controversy No description of the two Miracles needed for Beatification & Canonization

Brother Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur (March 21, 1626 (Tenerife) - April 25, 1667 (Antigua Guatemala), called Hermano Pedro de San José Betancurt or more simply Hermano Pedro, Santo Hermano Pedro, or San Pedro de Vilaflor, was a Spanish saint and missionary. Known as the "St. Francis of Assisi of the Americas", he is the first saint native to the Canary Islands, is also considered the first saint of Guatemala and Central America.


Born in Vilaflor, on the island of Tenerife, he spent some time in a little cave[1] in the arid region near the present-day town of El Médano (municipality of Granadilla de Abona).

He worked as a shepherd[1] until age 23, when in 1649, he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, Cuba, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he arrived in Guatemala City the following year, so destitute that he joined the bread line which the Franciscans had established. He fell sick almost immediately but was able to recover his health.

He very much wanted to become a priest and soon enrolled in the Jesuit College of San Borgia in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material, and thus withdrew from the school.[1]

Unable to receive holy orders, he became a Franciscan tertiary in the convent of Costa Rica in Antigua Guatemala, and took the name "Peter of Saint Joseph". He visited hospitals, jails, the unemployed, and the young. Three years later, he opened Our Lady of Bethlehem, a hospital for the convalescent poor. Soon after there was a shelter for the homeless, a school for the poor,[2] an oratory, and an inn for priests. He was joined by other tertiaries and Hermano Pedro soon wrote up a rule, which was adopted by the women who were involved in teaching the children. This led to the formation of a new religious order: la Orden de los Bethlemitas y de las Bethlemitas, (the Bethlehemite Congregation or Hospitalers Bethlehemite) who tend to the sick.

Brother Pedro devoted his life to helping those marginalized: lepers, prisoners, slaves and Indians and served as precursor of Human Rights.[3]

On the other hand, Pedro de San Jose Betancur was the first literacy of America and the Order of Betlemitas turn religious order was the first born in the Americas. Peter was a man ahead of his time, both in its methods for teaching reading and writing to illiterate and in the treatment of patients.

He died in Antigua Guatemala at the age of 41. He left behind devotional writings.


He was beatified on June 22, 1980, and canonized on July 30, 2002, by Pope John Paul II. At the homily read by John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002, Hermano Pedro was called the "first Canarian and Guatemalan saint."[4]

His tomb is in the San Francisco Church, in Antigua Guatemala. The Cave of Santo Hermano Pedro is located in the south of the island of Tenerife, in a desert on the outskirts of the city of El Médano. It is a very popular pilgrimage site, where the faithful present votive offerings to the saint. Inside the cave is a wooden statue of the saint. It is also an important place of worship the Sanctuary of the Santo Hermano Pedro, which is built on his birthplace in Vilaflor.


St. Pedro is considered the great evangelist of the West Indies. He is sometimes credited with introducing to the Americas, the Christmas Eve posadas procession, in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries.[2]

He was known to work miracles also, some of them including healing sick people in under an hour. Also getting notes from deceased family members by setting rocks out and letting the member arrange them over time.


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