Cathedral San Pedro Claver – Cartagena

The Cathedral of San Pedro Claver was first built in 1575, destroyed by Sir Francis Drake in 1586, and rebuilt in 1602. It was eventually named for a Spanish-born Jesuit priest, Pedro Claver, who arrived in Cartagena in 1610.

Cartagena was a hub of the slave trade, with over 10,000 slaves arriving in the city each year, most arriving from West Africa. Father Claver was not in the city long before he began dedicating himself to ministering the slaves. During the 40 years he served in Cartagena, he personally baptized over 300,000 slaves and worked to ensure that they were treated humanely.  He often would meet the slave ships and provide food, medicine, and care for all those who were ill or malnourished.

The scope of Father Claver’s ministry was not known until after his death. He was canonized in 1888 and was the patron saint of slaves. Many black descendants of slaves make the pilgrimage to Cartagena to honor Saint Pedro Claver.

Those visiting the inside of the cathedral can see Father Claver’s remains in the altar, and the church contains interesting furnishings. It is also possible to visit the home of Saint Pedro Claver which has been converted into a museum and is located just next door to the church. Don’t miss the lovely quiet courtyard of the church.