April 26 - Saint Pedro de San Jose Betancur

Quick Facts
  • Born a poor shepherd, he devoted his time with the flocks to prayer.
  • At age thirty-one, he journeyed to Guatemala City in hopes of a job away from the sheep.
  • Befriended by the Jesuits and Franciscans of the area, he enrolled in the Jesuit College of San Borgia in hopes of becoming a priest.
  • However, with little background education he was unable to master the material, and withdrew.
  • He then took private vows, and became a Franciscan tertiary, taking the name Peter of Saint Joseph.
  • Three years later he opened Our Lady of Bethlehem, a hospital for the convalescent poor.Soon after there was a shelter for the homeless, schools for the poor, and an oratory.Not to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro walked through their part of town, ringing a bell, begging support for the poor, and inviting the wealthy to repent.
  • Other men were drawn to Pedro's work, and they formed the foundation of the Bethlehemite Congregation or Hospitalers Bethlehemite, which earned papal approval after Pedro's death.
  • He is the first canonized Guatemalan native.
  • Pedro built chapels and shrines in the poor sections of the city, and promoted the ministry of intercessory prayer among those who had nothing except their time.
  • He is sometimes credited with originating 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.
  • Legend says that petitioners need only tap gently on Peter's stone tomb in order to have their prayers fulfilled.
  • Stone tablets scratched with thank-you notes are often left on the tomb afterwards.