JCB Archive of Early American Images
JCB call number:
Vida Exemplae Muerte preciosa del Venerable Hermano Pedro de S. Joseph Betancur Fundador de la Compa[ñ]a Bethleemitica [sic] en las Indais Occidentales.
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Place image published:
[Nicolas Angel Tinassi]
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Saint Rodrigo with a knife through his head and a Spanish king, on either side of a monument, look up at the Holy Family encircled by angels. On the monument is the portrait of a woman. Seated at the foot of the monument is a native American with feathered headdress and a bow and arrow. Also includes crown, orb, sword, chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece, pile of coins, palm branch, and trumpet.
Montalvo, Francisco Antonio de, 17th cent.
Vida admirable y muerte preciosa del venerable hermano Pedro de S. Joseph Betancur fundador de la Compañia Bethlemitica en las Yndias Occidentales
Source place of publication:
En Roma [Rome]
Por Nicolas Angel Tinassi Ympresor Camer.
Pedro de San José de Betancourt founded the hospitaler Bethlehemites or Belemites and worked for the poor in Guatemala. He became the first Guatemalan saint in 2002. The woman in the center of the monument is the Queen Regent of Spain, Maria Ana de Austria, who ruled as the monarch for her son, Charles II, after her husband, Philip IV died. Her son, the last of the Hapsburg family and mentally handicapped, was was only 4 years old when his father died; the crown at the foot of his mother's portrait represents his monarchy. In 1672 Betancourt's successor, Brother Roderick of the Cross, obtained the confirmation of a hospital in Lima from the king of Spain and also the confirmation of the Bethlehemites from Pope Clement X. Saint Roderick, Brother Roderick's patron saint, was martyred by the Moors in ninth-century Spain. The scene of the nativity at the top of the image represents the symbol of the Bethlehemites; it is included in any images or buildings related to the order. Betancourt is credited with introducing the custom of the "posada" in Guatemala (also practiced in Mexico). On Christmas Eve, groups recreate the procession of Mary and Joseph, looking for shelter and hospitality among neighbors and friends.
Owner and copyright:
©John Carter Brown Library, Box 1894, Brown University, Providence, R.I. 02912
Information on the iconography of this image was provided by Coralia Anchisi de Rodriguez of the Popul Vuh Museum at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín. She identified Queen Maria Ana de Austria, Charles II, and the coat of arms of the Bethlehemite Order.
Artifacts, industry, and human activities
Betancourt, Pedro de, 1619-1667