Beatification process for Bolivian Indian moves forward

.- Francisco Tito Yupanqui, a 16th century Indian from the Aymara Tribe famous for sculpting the statue of Our Lady of Copacabana, is one step closer to becoming the first Bolivian saint.

Bishop Jesus Juarez of El Alto, in the province of Copacabana, has formed a historical commission as the first important step on towards beatification.

The group's members include the National Rector of the Bolivian Catholic University, Augustinian expert in Bolivian history Father Hans van den Berg, and a theological commission headed up by the judicial vicar of the Archdiocese of Copacabana, Father Miguel Manzanera.

On Aug. 5, Fr. van den Berg presented a book entitled, “Francisco Tito Yupanqui, Servant of God,” which contains important information that has been gathered in the last four years about the life of the Aymaran Indian, who was evangelized by Dominican friars more than four centuries ago.

He said Yupanqui finally carved the statue of Mary venerated at Copacabana after his third try out of wood from a maguey tree.

The Aymaran Indian had great “perseverance because he promised the people of Copacabana that he would make a bust of the Virgin Mary, despite opposition from some who said, 'What can an Indian do? Impossible. We need to bring a professionally made state from Spain.'”

Fr. van den Berg said Tito Yupanqui is “a very important figure for Catholics and more so because he is an Indian.”  

“There is a lot of scientific proof” to support his beatification cause, he added.

The Augustinian historian will deliver his report to the Vatican in October for a meeting of the Commission, which the bishop of El Alto will also attend.