Betanzos, Pedro de
BETANZOS, PEDRO DE
Franciscan missionary; b. place and date unknown;d. near Chómez, Costa Rica, c. 1570. He came to New Spain in 1542. After a few months in Mexico, he mastered the Mexican language. In 1543 Toribio motolinÍa took Betanzos to Guatemala, where he quickly learned the three native languages, Kiche, Tzutuhil, and Cakchiquel, so perfectly that the natives said he knew them as well as they did. He composed a grammar of Cakchiquel in cooperation with Francisco de Parra, who introduced several symbols for sounds not found in Spanish. He translated a group of prayers, which became the basic prayer formula for the natives, and with Juan de Torres he prepared a catechism in their language. His work was criticized by the Dominicans because he insisted on retaining the Spanish word Dios for God rather than using the indigenous word, which he considered tainted with idolatry. His usages were eventually accepted. In the 1550s he moved on with the conquerors into Honduras-Costa Rica, where with four other friars he laid the foundations for the province of Honduras.
Bibliography: f. vÁzquez, Crónica de la privincia del Santisimo nombre de Jesús de Guatemala, ed. l. lamadrid, 4 v. (Guatemala 1937–44) 1:119–128; 2:171–178.
[f. b. warren]