Known as the Healer of Los Olmos and the Saint of Falfurrias, Don Pedrito Jaramillo remains highly regarded by folks in South Texas. He was born to Indian parents sometime around 1829 in Guadalajara, Mexico. After the death of his mother in 1881, Jaramillo moved to the Los Olmos Ranch near present-day Falfurrias.
According to legend, this poor Mexican laborer fell off his horse and broke his nose while working as a cowboy on the Los Olmos Ranch. The pain of his injury kept him awake for several days. When he was finally able to sleep, he was told by God in a dream that he had been given the gift to heal people.
Don Pedrito, as he affectionately came to be known, started treating the sick and injured who lived on the surrounding ranches. He quickly earned a reputation as a curandero, the Spanish word for healer. Curanderos are a part of the rich texture of Hispanic culture in Texas. In days when doctors were few and far between and folks had little money to pay a physician, curanderos offered palliative solutions and cures to the poor.
Don Pedrito’s cures included mud packs (what he had used when he broke his nose), various poultices, herbal plants, and drinking large quantities of water. The compassionate healer often provided what he prescribed to his impoverished patients. His cures were so effective that people from throughout the region and, reportedly, from as far away as New York sought him out. In the years before easy access to medical care, Don Pedrito was to the folks of his day what dialing 9-1-1 and emergency rooms are to us today.
Although Don Pedrito never charged for his services, he regularly received unsolicited donations. He gave much of this money to local churches and kept some on hand to fund a large food pantry to help people in need. By some reports, Don Pedrito would spend hundreds of dollars at a time to buy food to give away. When he died in 1907, he still had more than $5,000 in 50-cent pieces set aside for his philanthropic work.
Today, more than a hundred years after his death, the faithful and the curious continue to visit the shrine of this South Texas folk saint — his final resting place. The whitewashed interior walls of the modest building are adorned with handwritten notes and photos of those either seeking help or who claim to have been helped or healed as a result of their visit to the shrine of Don Pedrito. Don, by the way, was not Pedro Jaramillo’s first name. Don is a title of esteem and respect in the Hispanic community.
The shrine is open daily from sunup to sunset. To get to the shrine, take Highway 285 east out of Falfurrias and look for the sign pointing the way just before you get to FM 1418. The shrine is located two miles north of Highway 285 on your right. Everyone is welcome. The curio shop next door sells candles, herbs, incense, and snacks.
Regardless of your own spiritual beliefs, take a quick detour to visit the shrine if you happen to be in the area to see the place where a poor Mexican laborer earned a widespread reputation as a beloved curandero. The story of this South Texas folk saint is, after all, a part of our rich Texas history.