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Reality check

MEXICO CITY (CNS): A year after Pope John Paul II canonised America’s first indigenous saint, researchers have released a new study reconfirming the existence of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin.

The investigation was made public by Mexico’s National Library of Anthropology and History on July 31, the same day several thousand Catholics descended on Mexico City’s Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to celebrate the anniversary of the canonisation.

The report analyzes recently uncovered evidence, including several letters and a document that researchers claim is St Juan Diego’s will.

“The evidence supports the historical case that this character existed,” the report’s main investigator, Asuncion Garcia Samper, said in a press statement.

The study differs from previous accounts in claiming St Juan Diego was not a poor peasant but part of an Indian nobility and was related to a wealthy landowner named Netzahualpilli.

The report also differs from other accounts in claiming St Juan Diego had at least three children.

Ms Garcia said she is close to locating the body of St Juan Diego.

Historians, archaeologists and Church officials have debated over whether St Juan Diego really lived and saw an apparition of the dark-skinned Virgin in 1531. A special Vatican commission sent to Mexico in 1999 concluded there was sufficient evidence supporting St Juan Diego’s existence.

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