Conozca La Antigua Guatemala ciudad colonial que ofrece una valiosa tradición cultural y religiosa



 Pilgrim trail at La Antigua Guatemala


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It´s important to note that in this page are included only some places where Santo Hermano Pedro had a presence. Also, that today some of those places were destroyed or are not easily accessible, for the curse of the time, as a result of earthquakes, or have been destined for other activities; such is the case of Telares de Don Pedro de Almengor [in ruins]; Hospital Real de Santiago [in ruins]; Iglesia y Convento de la Compañía de Jesús, whose ruins of the above mentioned Convent were reconstructed by Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo - AECID [Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for the Development], where Centro de Formación de la Cooperación Española en La Antigua Guatemala (CFCEantigua) [Training Center of Spanish Agency for International Cooperation] functions; and the former Hospital de Nuestra Señora de Belén whose ruins were reconstructed for the operation of Posada Belén, which is particularly intended for conducting spiritual retreats, and whose management is in charge of Hermanas Bethlemitas.


Santiago de los Caballeros was the name of the city founded on march 10, 1543, which at present is known as La Antigua Guatemala or La Antigua.



In La Antigua Guatemala, you can make a walk by the streets and avenues of this colonial city to know some places in which Hermano Pedro had presence; visiting the Sanctuary where his remains are; and to know the places in which, as an example of his principles of charity and mercy, a charitable work toward the poorest and most dispossessed continue. In addition, visiting the temples and churches where the parishioners manifest a great religious fervor.





The follow compilation constitutes only an orientation for a pilgrim trail:


Telares de Don Pedro de Armengol, en ruinas

[Don Pedro de Armengol Looms, in ruins]

[Near of the entrance to the city]


On September 4, 1651, Hermano Pedro went to work as a weaver in the cloths looms, which were located near of the entrance to the city. The owner of that factory was the second lieutenant Don Pedro de Armengol.



In the looms worked more than 400 slaves and forced (prisoners) from the eight prisons of the city. Hermano Pedro worked in the weaving until the year 1653, giving an example of goodness and righteousness to all.


When he finished his task, he helped the needy and then prayed the rosary and read a small religious book.


This place was the first missionary field of Hermano Pedro because there he improvised as a catechist for the factory workers.


Everyone watched him as virtuous and well respected him. He realized all the works of charity that he exercised later in his hospital with those poor prisoners.


Looms of Don Pedro de Armengol suffered considerable damage from the earthquake happened in 1773. These ruins are the only ones remained standing.


 Ruins closed to the public





Escultura al Santo Hermano Pedro

y el Puente del Matasano

[Sculpture in memory of Santo Hermano Pedro

and El Matasano Bridge]

[Entrance to this colonial city]


On September 18, 1649, with the desire to Cristianize people in the new kingdom, Pedro de Betancur [Hermano Pedro] embarked at Vilaflor going to Honduras, but having to arrive firstly to La Habana, Cuba. Waiting to continue his trip, he learned the profession of the weaver.


At the end of January 1651, it was reporting that the ship in which he had done the trip would go out of Cuba toward Honduras, with passengers that took their goods to Guatemala. When listening the name of Guatemala, he exclaimed: "To that city I want to go, because with joyfulness and superior force I am inclined to walk toward it, after I have heard its name; being so is this the first time that I hear its name."


Afterwards disembarking at Puerto Trujillo, Honduras, he went immediately on foot toward Guatemala. Finally, he arrived to Petapa, and kneeling he kissed the earth, as if he had been conscious of seeing the place where God had brought him, and prayed to the Angel's Queen. Standing, gladly he contemplated the city exclaiming: "Here I must live and die."


He followed his road toward the city of Santiago de los Caballeros, to which arrived on February 18, 1651.


While he was prostrating and kissing the ground on Puente de las Monjas de la Concepción or Puente del Matasano, a strong tremor shook the city. Hermano Pedro, full of scare and confusion, thought that this happened because he, a great sinner, entered at the city. On his knees, he asked God forgiveness and mercy.


In this place, there is a sculpture in memory of Santo Hermano Pedro.


Hospital Real de Santiago, en ruinas

[Real Hospital of Santiago, in ruins]

 [3a. Calle Oriente -Calle de los Carros- y 2a. Avenida Sur]


After his long and risky trip, Hermano Pedro, tired and sick, entered to the city of Santiago de los Caballeros. Newcomer, he went to Hospital Real de Santiago to heal.

Ruins closed to the public




When Hermano Pedro regained his health and left the Hospital, experienced the many dangers to those who convalescent were exposed, especially the outsiders and the dispossessed, which did not have any person who take care of them and give them appropriate food. In addition, he spent the first days of his convalescence to visit the temples, sanctuaries, pious places and hospitals.


The time of the convalescence was for Hermano Pedro a hard experience, because to survive he had to beg and he was eating as poor person in the gate of Templo de San Francisco. In the nights, he did not take place adapted to rest and was going away for the sanctuary of El Calvario. He shared the destiny of needy, many people who were strolling around for the streets and were sleeping under the portals.


Hermano Pedro had learned in the school of experience to be charitable, because during the time he was sick at the Hospital observed the suffering of people who had no help.


Hospital Real de Santiago suffered considerable damage from the earthquake happened in 1773. At present, this Hospital is in ruins.



Iglesia de la Merced

[La Merced Church]

  [6a. Avenida Norte y 1a. Calle Poniente, end of Calle del Arco]


In 1658, Hermano Pedro received as alms of generous neighbors forty Pesos that utilized for buying a small land with its ranch of straw and that would be used as a convalescent hospital.


Hermano Pedro, happy with the economic aid, ran to thank to Nuestra Señora de la Merced, showing the money.


At present, Iglesia de la Merced is very visited by the faithful believers to worship the image of Jesús Nazareno, and the image of Nuestra Señora de la Merced, Patroness of the city.


On April 3, 2004, City Council of the colonial city proclaimed to Jesús Nazareno de la Merced as Protector and Intercessor of Antiguans.


Iglesia y Convento de la Compañía de Jesús

[Compañía de Jesús Church and Convent]

[4a. Calle Poniente y 6a. Avenida Norte]


In 1652, Hermano Pedro, with the desire of being a priest and enduring many adversities, began studies in Colegio de San Lucas de la Compañía de Jesús.


His first year was of introduction and learning because he hardly knew reading and writing.


Compañía de Jesús Church, in ruins.

Ruins closed to the public



Although studied much, he never could learn the nominative from the Latin, and what he had learned in one day, the next day it had completely forgotten. His classmates respected him but did not stop laughing at him.


When a religious man [Hermano Terciario] saw to Hermano Pedro discouraged with the studies, advised him to leave the school and to move to El Calvario, pointing out a Crucified Christ's image and explained him the doctrine of the Cross; also recommended him to take the habit of Tercera Orden de Penitencia de San Francisco.


Dispelled the project to be a priest, disconsolate he escaped from the city for not returning to the study. Ascending for the road that some years before brought him to the city, he went to Petapa [nowadays Villa Canales] and entered in a hermitage where an image of Virgen del Rosario received very devout worship.


Being in pray, because he did not know that direction to give to his life, he received the illumination that looked for: "He should return to the city of Santiago de los Caballeros and to be devoted to the service of God, leaving everything".


Hermano Pedro, afflicted and tearful, seeing that could not improve in the study and that it was almost impossible to learn the grammar from the Latin, in mid-1654, decided to leave his studies and requested the habit of that Order.


Compañía de Jesús Church and Convent suffered considerable damage from the earthquake happened in 1773. At present, this church is in ruins. The reconstruction works of these ruins are in charge of Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo - AECID [Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for the Development]. Ruins of the church are closed to the public.





In 1997, were inaugurated the reconstruction works of Convento de la Compañía de Jesús and the opening of Centro de Formación de la Cooperación Española en La Antigua Guatemala (CFCEantigua) [Training Center of Spanish Agency for International Cooperation].


Compañía de Jesús Convent,

reconstructed ruins




Parroquia de San José Catedral

[San José Catedral Parish]

 [4a. Avenida Norte y 5a. Calle Oriente,

in front of Plaza Mayor - Parque Central]


The construction of the first Cathedral began in 1545. That building was demolished in 1668.


The edification of the new Cathedral began in 1669, which was inaugurated in 1680, being one of the most important temples of Spanish-America in the colonial time.


In its facade, there are sculptures that represent the twelve Apostles and four Fathers of the Church. In the central niche, two sculptures represent, one, Padre Eterno, and the other one, Virgen de la Asunción.


In colonial times and every Thursday of the Corpus Christi religious festivity, from the Cathedral church took place a solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament making its way through the streets of the city. On this day, with a float well decorated and many people, Hermano Pedro accompanied the procession doing of his cloak a flag up on a wooden pole. Constantly waved his flag in front of the monstrance during the procession, accompanying the movement of his arms and feet with happy jumps. At the same time, he sang some songs he had written to the mystery.


The Cathedral church suffered considerable damages from the earthquake happened in 1773. By virtue of it, the religious images of this place of worship were sheltered in Iglesia de San Jose that had suffered fewer damages from the telluric devastation. When the partial restoration of the Cathedral church was concluded, those religious images that had been moved returned to its previous house. In recognition and gratefulness to the divinity, later, the new church was named Parroquia de San José Catedral, while the ruins of the original Iglesia de San José are now known as the ruins of Iglesia de San José El Viejo.


 Parroquia de San José Catedral, is very visited by the faithful believers.


Templo de San Francisco,  Santuario del Santo Hermano Pedro

[San Francisco Temple, Santo Hermano Pedro Sanctuary]

 [7a. Calle Oriente y Calle de los Pasos]


After Hermano Pedro's death in Hospital de Nuestra Señora de Belén, and keeping vigil over his body in Iglesia del Oratorio de la Escuela de Cristo, the coffin was moving on the shoulders of noble and religious groups for the burial inside Templo de San Francisco El Grande. In the streets, there were many people and the church was so full, that the coffin entered difficulty. The Bishop presided the holding of solemn Mass and then he proceeded to the burial.



Superior of Convento de San Francisco decided that the body should be buried in the vault of common burial of the religious, "making for humble Hermano Pedro, among other, this unique honor, to do number with such incomparable men".


Owing to the reconstruction works and repairs of Templo de San Francisco, the mortal remains of Hermano Pedro were moving to different chapels in the years 1686, 1692 and 1817.


On October 28, 1990, after the last canonical recognition, the remains of Hermano Pedro were placed in a special sepulcher built in the former Capilla de la Vera Cruz, inside Templo de San Francisco. On July 30, 2002, His Holiness Pope John Paul II () celebrated a Eucharist for Canonization of Hermano Pedro.


The presence of the remains of Santo Hermano Pedro is the reason why Arzobispo de Guatemala, Monseñor Rodolfo Quezada Toruño (), raised Templo de San Francisco to Santuario Arquidiocesano on july 30, 2003.


In this Santuario [Sanctuary] is observed a great religious fervor in the veneration of Santo Hermano Pedro, since the faithful believers, of different cultures and languages, visit him touching his sepulcher to warn their presence and to tell him their hardships and happiness, to request his material and spiritual help, and to thank him for the obtained miracles; placing him candles of different colors that represent a special petition depending on the person’s necessities.





Santo Hermano Pedro Sepulcher


The sepulcher of Santo Hermano Pedro has three wood carvings that represent: Hospital of Belén and the charities of Hermano Pedro; Hermano Pedro recumbent worshipped by people; in addition, Hermano Pedro diffuses Jesus’ Birth.



Museo del Santo Hermano Pedro

[Santo Hermano Pedro Museum]


The door situated in the ruins of the south tower of Templo de San Francisco enables to visit Museo del Santo Hermano Pedro, Biblioteca [Library], or ruinas del Convento de San Francisco [San Francisco Convent in  ruins].


This Museum opened its doors, in 1982, so that the visitors can appreciate Hermano Pedro’s belongings that have been preserved by Franciscan Congregation. At the beginning of 2002, the facilities of this Museum were restored; the reason why now it has two rooms and a corridor between them, to visit.


In the first room or Sala Colonial  are exposing: images, priestly vestment, and other religious objects that have belonged to the Franciscan Congregation from the colonial time, an altarpiece of the seventeen-century, some Mayan ceramic collections, and coin collections of República de Guatemala.


In the corridor, denominated Pasillo de los Milagros have been gathered several objects, among them: orthopedic apparatuses, plaques of gratitude, paintings and pictures that the faithful believers have left as a testimony of received the blessings of God by Hermano Pedro’s intercession.


In the second room, or Sala del Santo Hermano Pedro are conserved, among other religious objects, documents of Hermano Pedro's beatification process, his belongings, paintings made by different artists through the time, among them the oldest about Hermano Pedro, medals and commemorative postal stamps, and a beautiful relic [a piece of bone of Hermano Pedro]. In addition, there are the coffers in those who were deposited the remains of Hermano Pedro from 1817 to 1990, when they were moved to the new and current sepulcher.


Calle de los Pasos

[Street of the Steps]

[In front of Templo de San Francisco]


In 1618, the Brotherhood of Tercera Orden de Penitencia de San Francisco decided to have own church and acquired a land to build a Calvary at 1322 steps from Templo de San Francisco that, according to what the Franciscan tradition say, is the distance between the Praetor and the Mount Calvary; that is to say, the steps that Jesus walked on his sacrosanct way.


 II Station of the Cross chapel,

at the beginning of Calle de los Pasos



In addition, the fourteen Stations of the Cross [Estaciones del Vía Crucis] were recognized at that way, initially indicating them with small crosses, then with blankets and finally with the construction of chapels, denominating the route, in that time, Calle de la Amargura, now Calle de los Pasos.


At Calle de los Pasos are situated the chapels representing from the II to the VIII Estaciones del Vía Crucis.


Currently, Calle de los Pasos ends at the beginning of the boulevard of double route known as Alameda del Calvario, where the chapels that represent the IX and the X Estaciones del Vía Crucis are located.


The chapel that represents the XI Estación del Via Crucis is located in the atrium of Templo de El Calvario.


In its interior, these chapels have sheltered paintings, realized in the colonial time, representing each one of them Jesus’ Passion. To preserve the valuable paintings, these chapels remain closed every day of the year, except during Lent and Holy-Week, time in which the above-mentioned chapels are open and the faithful believers can observe the paintings and to pray.


Hermano Pedro had great devotion toward Jesus’ Passion. In the love of Crucified Christ had rooted his expiatory penance.


In Lent time and as self-punishment on Fridays, Hermano Pedro, dressed in Nazarene and carrying a heavy cross, realized his nocturnal Estaciones del Vía Crucis [Stations of the Cross] at Calle de la Amargura. He knew that the path of the Cross was the road to find Jesus; he wanted to feel the same that Jesus felt in his body, to suffer the fatigue, the thirst, the lashes and even the blood.



Templo de la Escuela de Cristo

[Escuela de Cristo Temple]

[Calle de los Pasos y 9a. Calle "A" Oriente]


After Hermano Pedro's death, the Bishop decided to keep vigil over the body, on April 25, 1667, by night, in Iglesia del Oratorio de la Escuela de Cristo.


For the movement, the coffin was placed in the float property of the Bishop; while all the dignitaries walked escorting to whom in life was considered by him the minimum of all.


The popular worship for Hermano Pedro was overflowing. It was necessary taking serious measurements to bring order to the enthusiasm of the persons, since they all wanted a relic, a piece of his clothes, even of his hair. There came also the authorities of the city and the Bishop with his council. Seeing that all knelt before the dead, the Bishop said cordially: “Apologize the formalities and praise God in his humble servant. Everyone thinks in your interior the concept that dictates his exemplary life that, for my part, I consider him as a great man worthy of any reverence.”


Since the dawn until the time of burial, Masses were celebrated in fixed and portable altars without interruption, while from the adjacent villages many people were gathering continuously.


Hospital e Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Belén,

actualmente, Posada Belén

[Former Hospital and Church of Nuestra Señora de Belén, at present, Posada Belén]

 [Calle del Santo Hermano Pedro, Plaza a la Paz]


In 1663, Hermano Pedro decided to begin the construction of a bigger infirmary and he bought an adjacent land to which he already had. He wrote to King Felipe IV to inform him about the difficulties that the sick people suffered when leaving the hospitals, requesting him the license to found a convalescent hospital.



On December 7, 1663, Hermano Pedro named a procurator to obtain in Corte de Madrid the approval of that hospital.


In 1664, Hermano Pedro began the construction of the hospital without enough resources. For that reason, he worked with his own hands, and imitated him many more. His humility was absolute, he appealed to the mendicancy for the edification of this hospital, and maintenance of the sick and convalescent people. The construction concluded in 1665, named it Hospital de Nuestra Señora de Belén.


His longings were to have in the hospital a perennial source of water for health and charity to help everybody who needed it. His concern was that people who went into the hospital to recover the health of the body leave the place better in health of the soul, and he requested them to pay to God the benefit of the health with the amendment of their lives.


Hermano Pedro wrote a regulation that was also adopted by women who attended the education of children; emerging, what later would be Orden Bethlemita.


In 1665, he obtained Bishop's permission to change his last name, as the religious made it, and to be called from that day on Pedro de San José de Betancur.


He was a man that enjoyed good health; however, the contact with the sick people, his continuous fasts and wakefulness, his disciplines of blood, and his nocturnal barefoot hikes and without coat, made shrink his physical constitution; being on April 14, 1667, when he began to feel the symptoms of a disease.


On April 20, 1667, already sick of gravity, in Hospital de Nuestra Señora de Belén, advised by his confessors and in obedience to the rule of Tercera Orden, Hermano Pedro made and signed his will, in which he requested as charity to be buried in Templo de San Francisco, where is the burial place of the religious.


In his last days, he tightened in his hands a crucifix. When the hour of his dead arrived, he lifted his arms to a painting of El Tránsito del Glorioso San José [St. Joseph's Glorious Transit], and with gestures of wanting to embrace it, his face was illuminating with a sweet smile and an incomparable happiness; and being as beside himself said: "This is my glory".


On April 25, 1667, Hermano Pedro died at the age of 41 and at 15 years of having arrived in Guatemala.


Place where Hermano Pedro died



This place is located at former Hospital de Nuestra Señora de Belén, in ruins.



Nuestra Señora de Belén Hospital, Church and Convent suffered serious damage from the earthquake happened in 1773. At present, this Hospital is in ruins. Church and Convent have been reconstructed and presently Hermanas Bethlemitas are in charge of the administration. This place is known as Posada Belén, used only for spiritual retreats.



Templo de El Calvario

[El Calvario Temple] [Calvary]

  [End of Alameda del Calvario]


After leaving his studies in Colegio de San Lucas, Hermano Pedro worked, until June 1654, in the construction of El Calvario. In July of the same year, he moved to live in El Calvario as superintendent of the work, making it with willingness, humility and resignation. At that place, he requested to join in the Tercera Orden de Penitencia de San Francisco.



In early January 1655, Hermano Pedro had a mystic experience; he felt very near to Jesús Nazareno [Jesus the Nazarene]. This experience motivated Hermano Pedro's heart with infinite love and compassion toward Jesus [Bethlehem, the Cross and the Eucharist] and the suffering of the needy.


On January 14, 1655, Superior de la Tercera Orden [Third Order] gave to Hermano Pedro the interior habit, and in 24 of the same month gave him the exterior habit in the great chapel of Convento de San Francisco in public community of religious and Brothers of that Order.


In the following night of his arrival to the Tercera Orden, gathered with other Hermanos Terciarios [Tertiary Brothers] in El Calvario to carry out their devout exercises, a Crucified Christ's image was sweating. When the Brothers there gathered wanted to call a Notary to certify the fact, Hermano Pedro begged them not to do it, "because the sweat of that Holy Christ was caused by the blames and sins of Hermano Pedro”. That image was the same one that a Tertiary Brother had pointed out when he advised to Hermano Pedro to leave the school and move to El Calvario.


In that place, Hermano Pedro lived the decisive stage of his life because he discovered the true reason by which God had brought him to Guatemala. In addition, he recovered his happiness and apostolic devotion. Dedicated to the prayers and mortification during many hours of the day and of the night, he alternated also other hours in works of charity for the whole city dressed with rough sackcloth and an interior tunic of hemp belted to his body with ropes.


When entered to Tercera Orden, Hermano Pedro was annotating the teachings that received, and began to practice them, since they were not otherwise than the essence of the Gospel and the heart of the Rule of that Order. To keep up his observance, he realized continuous exercises of piety, mortification and charity. With the presence and animation of Hermano Pedro, El Calvario became a center of spirituality and popular devotion, especially toward Virgen María.



During four years Hermano Pedro was responsible for El Calvario, in which he received children and met with many people to pray and do penance. When he took charge of the garden of that Hermitage, on March 19, 1657, sowed an Esquisúchil tree, which at present is a leafy tree that even continues flowery, and it is known as Árbol del Hermano Pedro [Hermano Pedro's tree].


The faithful believers attribute to the flowers of this tree curative property and even miraculous.


Árbol del Hermano Pedro  [Hermano Pedro's tree]


Iglesia de San Pedro y

Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro

[San Pedro Church and

Santo Hermano Pedro Social Works]

[6a. Calle Oriente, Número 20]


In 1985, City Council of La Antigua Guatemala granted to Asociación Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro, for 40 years, the building of the former Hospital Nacional de La Antigua Guatemala that was abandoned by having been destroyed from the earthquake happened in 1976. Since then, it has been repaired progressively.



Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro is a non-government or lucrative institution, of service and projection in the community of catholic inspiration and with legal authorization since October 5, 1988. Fray Guillermo Bonilla Carvajal and many other people desirous to imitate the principles of love and charity established by Hermano Pedro, as the living spirit of his work, promoted them, in 1980. They are under the care of the Franciscan Order and directed by Fray Giuseppe Contrán. Supported partly by the Government of Guatemala, and partly with donations from all over the world, the hospital is the home of approximately 220 to 250 patients with physical and mental impediments.


Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro intends as Vision: "To be a religious and humanist institution that expands the charity and solidarity by the example of Hermano Pedro, offering integral attention to improve the life and the person’s dignity, with emphasis on the poorest, without taking consideration their religion, race and condition.” In addition, it intends as Mission: "To provide with love and charity attention of high quality to the population of scarce resources, and to the external, internal, surgical and chronic patients, with basic, preventive and specialized services of health; shelter, alimentation, and clothes; integral, moral and spiritual education, in coordination with volunteers and nationals and foreigners entities.”


The basis for Christian social philosophy is brotherly love and support, from human sensitivity [bodily and spiritual], providing assistance to everyone who needs and requires it. This institution works bringing the nourishment of Faith, Hope and Charity to the malnourished children, youths with paralysis and disabled or blind elderly patients and to anyone who seeks relief and healing of the body and soul. Jesus Christ inspires with compassion within all hearts and solidarity towards those most needy and invites everyone to develop the mercy towards our neighbor.


In spite of limited resources, personal and global difficulties, God in His Divine Providence has allowed to help thousands of people and to have provided medical attention over many years.


Iglesia de San Pedro Apóstol, adjacent to Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro, is the place where patients, people of Social Works, donors or benefactors, medical groups and parishioners are close to God through prayer and reflection. Daily, the knowledge of the God's word is offered and shared, as well as providing the sacraments that help the health and strengthening of the human spirit.


We realize this pilgrim trail in the city to which a man wanted to change for God. In this city, Hermano Pedro lived and taught to live through the charity and spiritual virtues; and here he remains with us... forever.



Itinerario de un peregrino en una "Ciudad Mística", La Antigua Guatemala (Ediciones Provincia Franciscana "Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe" de Centro América y Panamá): Fray Damián Cosimo Muratori, o.f.m.; Fray Edwin Alvarado Segura, o.f.m.; y Williams Mazariegos Lima.  Novena al Santo Hermano Pedro de San José Betancur: Fray Edwin Alvarado Segura, o.f.m; y Williams Mazariegos Lima. Memorias de Labores: Asociación Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro. Ediciones San Francisco. Construyendo Historia y Abriendo Caminos: Hermanas Bethlemitas, Posada Belén.  Fotografías y recopilación de textos: CCN



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