Esquipulas was also the site of the initial meetings which led to the Esquipulas Peace Agreement, with which a measure of peace finally returned Central America started. Although the 1987 treaty was signed in Guatemala City, it bears the name Esquipulas.
The city of Esquipulas was founded by the Spaniards between 1560 and 1570 with the name of Santiago de Esquipulas. The image of the Black Christ dates back to March 9, 1595, when the Portuguese sculptor Quirio Catano presented it to the mayor of the city.
The cathedral at Esquipulas was proclaimed a Basilica in 1961 by Pope John XXIII, and in 1995, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the shrine, Pope John Paul II proclaimed it "the spiritual center of Central America."