St Peter de Betancourt was born on 19th March 1626 in Tenerife and died on 25th April 1667 in Guatemala. His humble beginnings, and heroic life, moves many from all faiths to visit this sacred place.
St Peter de Betancourt was a Spanish saint and missionary in Guatemala. His short life was full of noble acts of kindness, that touched the hearts of so many in the Canary Islands and beyond. As a young boy he worked on his family’s farm in El Médano as a shepherd, his family were very poor and ended up having their farm taken by moneylenders to pay off some debt. The rest of the debt Peter had to repay by working for the moneylender until he finally was relieved of his service when he turned 23. He used his freedom to sail to Honduras then walked from there, nearly 500km to Guatemala City. In Guatemala City he became an apostle for African American slaves, promoting equal rights and supporting them with housing and health. St Peter gave alms to the poor, built small chapels in poor areas for children and, also converted a hut into a hospital for the poor. St Peter gave all he could to help those who had been abandoned as he empathised with their sufferings. His view of women was inspirational too, rather than condemn prostitutes in the city, he empowered them by guiding them towards a better life, finding them jobs, and in turn their dignity.
The Cave Pictured here was where St Peter took refuge in the cold winter nights working as a shepherd and upheld his daily worship. In respect of St Peter, this cave has now been made into a memorial and church. Mass is conducted here every Saturday. Its location is across the road from the beach along a convenient road through the desert land, about 5 minutes. Opposite the entrance of the cave, benches are placed to sit and meditate. Inside the cave, worshippers and observers place gifts all around and write prayers on notes in his memory.
His cave brought tears to the eyes of all the visitors, lighting candles on the altar, and remembering all the sacrifices St Peter made for the lives of others. Catholics of Tenerife believe St Peter is ‘The saviour of the island’ and by visiting the place and praying to God, prayers can be answered, and miracles can happen. No matter personal beliefs we can all learn a lot from St Peter’s life. The cave is a magical, emotional place for retreat and well worth a visit.
(Cueva Del Hermano Pedro (Cave of St Peter) is open 7 days a week and is free entry)
Written by Charlotte Taylor