First, let me tell you a little bit about Hermano Pedro, the patron saint of Guatemala. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 30, 2002. Born in the Canary Islands in 1626 he was a shepherd until his early 20s, when he set out for Guatemala, hoping to find a relative there. First he arrived in Cuba practically destitute and stayed there to earn money for the remainder of his quest to get to Guatemala. When he arrived in Antigua he entered the Jesuit College but was unable ("unqualified") to complete the course to become a priest. He became a Franciscan brother and became known as Hermano Pedro.
He spent his early years visiting the sick in hospitals, jails and their homes; later, in 1663, he founded the first hospital for the convalescent care of the poor and homeless. Obra Sociales del Hermano Pedro (Social Work Hospital of Brother Pedro) is alive and well in Antigua to this day, four centuries later. The hospital receives no aid from the Guatemalan government, relying solely on donations for its operations. The church and the hospital are havens for Guatemala's poor and inform; Linda has been a volunteer in the pediatric department for all of the eight years she's lived in Guatemala, never tiring of her dedication to make a positive difference in the lives of these needy children, some of whom pass their entire lives inside the walls, receiving incredibly good care and love through the continued dedication of the followers of Santo Hermano Pedro. It is truly an inspiration to visit.
Last night a string quartet (with the addition of a trumpet and oboe) and a wonderful chorale group came to Antigua to perform a lovely concert of works by the Italian Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). What a lovely beginning to the Christmas season, Guatemala style. The concert was performed with the group actually on the altar of the church. Donations of any amount, large or small, were accepted but not mandatory.
|Linda and I sat in the first row of pews. In front of us were several adult convalescent residents of|
Hermano Pedro Hospital, who were mesmerized by the performance