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Sunday, April 22, 2007

See Tenerife The Saintly Way

Statue of Hermano Pedro in the Plaza of Vilaflor

More than a thousand pilgrims yesterday, according to members of the organization, walked the route of saint Hermano Pedro from his birthplace, Vilaflor (Tenerife's highest village) to his cave near El Medano, which this year celebrated it's second edition.

The walk started very early in the morning, at 6 a.m. while it was still dark, with the arrival of some of the pilgrims to the area near the cave, who were taken by bus up to Villafor to partake in the whole route. At around 7 a.m. the participants were blessed, after which they began their walk along El Calvario, via the Los Cortados way, the La Vera and El Bucio gorges and the area known as Pino de Tío Honorio (Uncle Honorio's Pine).

A little after 9 a.m. the walkers reached the municipality of Granadilla de Abona and more pilgrims joined the excursion, who had been waiting at the Charco del Pino and in the center of Granadilla. At 10:30 a.m. those who had congregated in San Isidro, left from the hermitage there, while others who had gathered in the coastal village of Los Abrigos started after 11 a.m. Most of the pilgrims reached the cave a little before 1 p.m., when Eucharist was celebrated there, presided over by the Bishop of Tenerife, Bernardo Álvarez, assisted by local clergy and accompanied by folk group, Los Chasneros.

The Cueva del Hermano Pedro (Brother Peter's Cave) is on land that belongs to the Airports Authority, AENA, at Tenerife South Airport, close to one end of the runway. Popular tradition has it that Bethencourt, who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002, had used the cave during his labours as a shepherd. It was also announced that a museum is to be opened on the site and that local administrations have begun the process to have the route declared of Historic Interest, with the object of protection and preservation.

Pedro de Bethencourt was born in Vilafor in 1626 and lived in Tenerife until the age of 23, dedicating his life to shepherding goats between the peaks and the coast, close to where the cave is to be found. In the last half of his life, he lived in La Antigua, Guatemala, where he became a missionary. Through his charitable works, Brother Peter became one of the pioneers of providing medical assistance to convalescents as well as bringing education to the indigenous population and to the poor. His extreme dedication and, his works in providing for the most needy, made Hermano Pedro a popular figure among Christians in Guatemala, resulting in his canonization by Pope John Paul II, on July 29th, 2002. Hermano Pedro is the first Guatemalan, Central American and Canarian Saint.

Behind the Iglesia de San Pedro Apóstol (Saint Peter's Church) in Vilaflor is the house where Hermano Pedro was born on March 21st, 1626. Hermano Pedro died, at the age of 41, on 25 April 1667. His tomb is in the San Francisco Church, in La Antigua, Guatemala.

Juan Pablo II llega a Guatemala: Que canonización de Hermano Pedro

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