Thousands gather for new Catholic Bible in Guatemala

The arrival of Catholic Poqomchí Bible represents hope in Guatemala, a country battling poverty and drug related violence. For the country’s 70,000 Poqomchí people, more than half of whom are Catholic, it could be life-transforming. 

Vilma de Cojoc, leader of the town’s Catholic community, summed it up,

“Without the Bible – the Word of God – life is impossible”

More than 2,500 people attended the launch of the Bible, some having travelled for hours along dirt roads from the mountains of the Sierra de Chamá eager to welcome the Bible in their language.

Resonates with Catholic traditions

Emilio Morán, a catechist in a church in Quiché, was delighted when his church received copies of the new Catholic Bible. “How exciting to have the Bible in the language of our grandparents, who taught us our culture,” he said. “Now we will hear the Lord’s voice in the language we speak and understand.”

The new translation not only gives the Poqomchí access to the Bible in their mother tongue but also expresses it in a way that resonates with their Catholic traditions.

The Translation process

The first full Bible Poqomchí was published by the Bible Society Guatemala (BSG) in 2009. That same year, BSG began work on a Catholic version, following a request by the Catholic Bishop of Verapaz, Monsignor Rodolfo Valenzuela.

The new project was carried out by a team of five indigenous translators, under the guidance of United Bible Societies (UBS) Translation Consultant Dr Robert Bascom. As well as translating the books of the Deuterocanon, they revised and built on both the 2009 translation and a 1992 western Poqomchí translation of the New Testament and Psalms by Catholic priest and scholar Father Ennio Bossú.

He joined the team in 2015 for the final stretch, and died in 2016, just a day before the work was completed. Father Bossú’s contribution to the Poqomchí community was honored during the ceremony. Poqomchí is the tenth Mayan language in Guatemala to have the Bible, and the third to receive a Catholic edition.

A little girl’s love for the Bible

Nine-year-old Veronica was among the first to receive the new Catholic Bible. She said, “My parents have bought me this Bible and I’m happy. Now I’ll be able to read about Jesus in my own language and take my own Bible with me when I go to my First Communion catechism classes.” 

Please pray that the 6,000 copies of the Poqomchí Bible with Deuterocanon will touch many lives. Pray also for the ongoing work to translate the Bible into indigenous languages in Guatemala.  


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