Trying to keep up with La Antigua’s processions can be a job in itself. Some are celebrated every year … but then there is the occasional “anniversary” procession that may seem to come out of the blue!
One procession we can count on is Santo Hermano Pedro Day on Sunday, April 25. Hermano Pedro is buried at San Francisco Church and his cofradía celebrates the 343rd anniversary of his death this year with a procession from the same church.
Who was Santo Hermano Pedro?
Born in Vilaflor in Tenerife, Canary Islands on March 21, 1626, he worked as a shepherd until the age of 24 when he began his journey to Guatemala working for his fare on the ship to the New World and later walking from Trujillo, Honduras, to Santiago de Guatemala (now La Antigua Guatemala).
Upon his arrival in Antigua, he wanted to become a priest and enrolled in the Jesuit College of San Borja. After trying very hard, it is said that he had great difficulty remembering the material in Latin and withdrew from the school. Following his devotion, he became a tertiary at San Francisco and took the name “Peter of Saint Joseph” and began visiting hospitals, jails and the sick throughout Antigua.
Three years later, he opened the Hospital de Belén, a hospital for the convalescent poor. Soon after there was a shelter for the homeless, schools for the poor and an inn for priests. This also led to the formation of the new religious order Orden de las y de los Bethlemitas that was subsequently recognized and approved by the Holy See. Hermano Pedro de San José de Betancur became a saint on July 31, 2002.
Today we remember Santo Hermano Pedro as representing “humility and helping others” not only in our daily life but also through contributions to the Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro (3a avenida & 6a calle). Indeed, more than 30 medical groups from four foreign countries work here with Guatemalans performing what many consider no less than a miracle. The director of the Obras, Fray Giuseppe, no doubt, will be in the procession on Sunday!
Category: Ask Elizabeth