Archive for June 27th, 2020
Hermano Pedro, The Saint At The End Of Tenerife Airport

Walking down from the TF! motorway and skirting the perimeter fence of Tenerife South airport, an oasis of quiet reflection awaited me cave of Hermano Pedro, the only Canarian to be made a saint. It sounds like an unlikely junction but the modern surroundings wrapped themselves around the sandstone series of caves many years after the 11 year old took his goats to the spot of a well, a good hike south from his Vilaflor place of birth in 1637.

The descendant of a French knight , one of many historical figures to lay claim to Tenerife, Brother Pedro took on the shepherd duties to pay back a family debt. It did seem like a comfortable enclave as cars continued to buzz by just above the level of the sandstone structures in the ravine. Pedro had a lot on his plate very early but was already thinking of helping others and when the chance came to search for a new life in South America, he set off via Hondura and Cuba before settling in Guatemala where he became a missionary.

Setting up a school and hospital was just the start of Pedro´s good works, he also helped the hungry and down trodden in the streets. Dying at the age of 41, Pedro had already acumulated a huge wealth of respect and admiration for his work, and that revernce only continued to grow after he was gone. By 1980 the clamour to canonize him as a Saint had become too much to ignore and the order was made. Plans didn´t fully fit together until 30 July 2002 when Pope John Paul the second was due in Guatemala and able to perform the ceremony. Thousands of Canarians made the pilgrimage to see the historic act.

The El Medano shrine attracts a steady flow of devotees and the curious. As I wandered around, a lady added a lit cndle to his wall inside the main cave amid stacks of religious artefacts and gifts. There was even a small pile of crutches, legend says they were left by thnkful visitors whose rliance on them was removed after a prayer to the great man. It´s a working tribute to Hermano Pedro, regular services are held at the pulpit. There´s a gift shop for those wanting a tangeable  reminder of their visit, and staff are always willing to discuss the life and times of Tenerife´s famous son.

 

There´s no charge to visit the caves, and facilities are on hand for those who come to learn more. There´s even a religious touch to the wash areas of the toilets. Benches and seats scattered around the dircular site encourage reflection and restful contemplation in this important part of Canarian history and culture.It´s a 30 minute walk down from the San Isidro roundabout or up from La Tejita beach at El Medano. There´s a small parking area for drivers as well.Look out for Hermano Pedros statue around Tenerife, at the entrance to Vilaflor, the town of Granadilla, and even on the beach promenade between Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas.