Texas – Smack dab in the center of south Texas, you’ll find a small town with a unique name. As we traversed South Texas, we heard the story of a magical, mystical healer, who made his mark on Texas many years ago. He’s not recognized by any church or religion, but that doesn’t stop the masses from flocking to Falfurrias.
Alberto Huerta was born and raised here, so we meet up at the town’s heritage center to talk about a local legend, Don Pedrito Jaramillo.
“He was this kind of person that was always willing to help the community and he was well-known around the area,” said Huerta.
Born near Guadalajara, this son of Indian parents moved to the area in 1881 and provided this part of Texas with an interesting trade.
“Don Pedro was a, what’s been called a curandero, somebody that looked after people’s health back then when doctors weren’t, they weren’t available to for a lot of locals,” Huerta explained.
Known as a faith healer, Don Pedrito first learned of his abilities as a poor laborer in Mexico and after suffering a major injury to his nose, he remedied the pain by burying his face in a pool of mud in the woods for three days. Once cured, he returned home, fell into a deep a sleep, and a voice awakened him to tell him that God had given him a gift, the ability to heal others.
Throughout the rest of his life, Don Pedrito was sought out by believers from all over the world and today people still come to this small cemetery northeast of town to visit the shrine dedicated to the Don Pedro.
“For years and years, people have been coming here,” said Huerta. “They come and visit his shrine and people just spend time meditating or praying or just relaxing. They’re trying to take it all, you know, and that’s…and for the community it’s good because, well, at least we have something that people can come and visit and spend some time here with us.”
Miriam Fernandez spends a lot time at the shrine helping out in the small store next door that carries nothing more than a few candles. She’s seen what this site means to believers.
“They’re not only believing just in him, but they’re believing that he’s working through God, you know,” Fernandez said. “People that come here come here with either negative depression or anything. They leave here feeling more positive, more reassured of whatever they’re asking and believing for is going to happen.”
Don Pedrito isn’t a saint or part of any religion but for some reason people still come to leave notes, ask for healing, or just to say a few prayers at his gravesite. You’ll even find a corner covered with crutches from people who apparently didn’t need them after coming here.
“I mean, it’s just the way they believe, and it’s making me believe. It’s making me a believer just to hear the stories of how he used to go to the little ranches when people couldn’t come, and he would go heal them,” said Fernandez. “I do believe God gives us gifts, and some people have different gifts and he had that one.”
Vidal Moreno drove from the Valley to say a prayer for his family.
“My mom and dad would, they actually swore by this place,” Moreno said. “We believe in the power or prayer, you know. My mom was a big believer in the power or prayer, so she just, one of the things that she passed on to us.”
Prayers for those fighting for our country, prayers for those fighting cancer, prayers to provide comfort seem to be answered in this small shrine.
“When we leave in a minute, we’re going to leave a little bit lighter, you know, as if we’ve actually accomplished something, that things will go right, that things will be positive, so yeah,” said Moreno. “It’s worth the detour.”
So the people come, with open minds, open hearts, and passionate prayers. It’s a combination of faith, the seeking of divine guidance in our lives, and the continuation of culture.
“I think within the Hispanic community, we still have that thing that takes us back to our original roots, you know, of the way, the way our ancestors or our people, things that they used to do and I guess it’s in our culture that we still feel it within the younger generation,” Huerta said.