Bethancourt, Pedro de San José de (1626–1667)

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Bethancourt, Pedro de San José de (1626–1667)

Pedro de San José de Bethancourt (also Betancur; b. 21 March 1626; d. 25 April 1667), founder of charitable institutions in Guatemala. Born in Villaflor, Canary Islands, Hermano Pedro (as he is known today) traveled to Guatemala in 1650–1651 by way of Cuba. He studied for the priesthood in Santiago de Guatemala but gave up after three years. While he was in nearby Petapa, a vision of the Virgin came to him. Newly encouraged, he returned to Santiago, where, upon relating his experience to his confessor, he was admitted to the Third Order of the Franciscans. Inspired to help the poor and sick, he established a primary school and hospital in a straw hut, becoming known as the "Servant of God." Through charity he raised funds to build a hospital and formed a group of followers whom he called Bethlehemites, in recognition of the importance he placed on the Nativity as a period of Christian devotion each year. When he died, leadership for his work passed to Rodrigo de Arias Maldonado, known as Rodrigo de la Cruz. Hermano Pedro was buried in the Chapel of the Third Order in the San Francisco church in Santiago (now Antigua), where his tomb continues to be a much-visited shrine. Many miraculous healings have been attributed to him. The request for his beatification was considered from 1712 to 1771, when Pope Clement XIV granted him the status of "Servant of God." Beatification waited until 22 June 1980.

See alsoBethlehemites .


David Vela, El Hermano Pedro (1935).

Maximo Soto Hall, Pedro de San José Bethencourt: El San Francisco de Asís americano (1949).

                                      David L. Jickling

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Bethancourt, Pedro de San José de (1626–1667)

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