By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC
VIRACO, Peru — Julissa knelt beside her daddy and urged him to get back on the donkey. He’d collapsed by the side of the road, torso in the bushes, legs and feet stretched out into the dusty mountain road.
“C’mon Papi. We need to go home.”
But he was barely conscious and unable to move, a stupor brought on from a morning of heavy drinking.
Julissa’s plight is not that uncommon from many other children living in the isolated Andean Mountains of Peru where there is a high level of alcoholism among men. Much of the bacchanalia centers around the veneration of Catholic saints, such as Saint Ursula, who is the patron saint of the town of Viraco (vee-RAH-co), located in the shadows of the dormant volcano, Coropuna.
Saint Ursula is uniquely recognizable. Most female Catholic saints have crowns atop their heads. Not Ursula. She wears a cowgirl hat. Legend has it that Ursula appeared to the Inca people here in the 1500s to warn them of an impending Spanish ambush. The people rallied and defeated the Spanish, solidifying Ursula’s significance in perpetuity. [Read more…]