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Sunday, January 31, 1999 Published at 01:35 GMT

World: Americas

Mexican Virgin icon copy on national tour

A computer-generated reproduction of one of Mexico's holiest religious icons, a poncho imprinted with the portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe, will begin a twenty-thousand kilometre tour of the country on Sunday.

The Roman Catholic Church in Mexico says that the reproduction will be encased in glass and transported to every parish in the country in a wooden crate.

According to tradition, the Virgin appeared before an Indian peasant in 1531 and miraculously left her imprint on his cactus-fiber poncho.

The Pope, during his visit to Mexico last week, declared December the Twefth as the Virgin of Guadalupe's day, as a religious holiday throughout the Americas.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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