Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/21/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Poverty and poor education are contributing factors.

In Venezuela a religious cult is growing in popularity as poverty and crime consumes the nation.

Shamanistic rituals like this one are frequently used in place of modern psychology or medicine.

Shamanistic rituals like this one are frequently used in place of modern psychology or medicine.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/21/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: Maria Lionza, Venezuela, poverty, crime, cult, religion


CARACAS, VENEZUELA (Catholic Online) - The cult is a 19th-century invention based on the writings of Frenchman Leon Denizarth-Hippolyte Rivail. According to his writings, people could summon the souls of the dead into living bodies where the deceased could been be questioned for guidance. The cult is known as "Maria Lionza."

Practitioners engage in a number of rituals that are part Catholic, part voodoo, and part shamanistic. They typically gather around Sorte Mountain in Venezuela, which they believe to be sacred.

According to the legend, Maria Lionza lived on that mountain in the 1400s. It is said that while she was gazing into a river, she was attacked and swallowed by an anaconda. From within the Anaconda, Maria Lionza made an agreement to marry the mountain if it would save her. Once saved from the Anaconda, Maria Lionza and the mountain became one.

People come from all around the country each October to celebrate the cult's holiest days. The national holiday of Indigenous Resistance, October 12, is generally considered to be the most sacred. On that day, some of the pilgrims dress in native garb and perform a ritual known as "dance of hot coals." They claim that the spirits prevent their feet from being burned as they walk over beds of coals.

But the chief feature of the religion is its rituals which involve summoning of the dead. Generally, famous people are summoned into the living with the possessed murmuring and chanting as their words are interpreted by a cult priest. However, ancestors and virtually any other dead spirit can be conjured up according to the faithful.

Worshipers are then able to question the spirits and get advice. Virtually any topic from love, to prosperity, to other personal problems can be discussed. Priests and spirits are generally consulted before any major decisions are made.

Researchers say the cult has become popular as crime and poverty skyrocket in the increasingly troubled country. More than a third of the population lives in poverty and is poorly educated.

Established institutions are finding it difficult to meet the needs of the people, so when their basic needs remain unmet they become increasingly likely to turn to a religious cult -- it's that cult offers them solutions.

Commonly, practitioners seek the advice of spirits instead of psychologists. Less often, but more dangerous are occasions when people approach the spirits with physical ailments. Witchcraft is commonly blamed for sickness, so practitioners seek healing from shamans rather than doctors.
So long as Venezuela remains an impoverished country with many people lacking education and social services, the cult of Maria Lionza is likely to remain popular.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Americas

IT'S MINE! Traders, tycoons and miners all vying for possession of Brazil's 180,000-carat Bahia Emerald Watch

Image of For the time being, the gem is now held in an undisclosed Sheriff's Department location.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ever since human eyes laid upon it in 2001, Brazil's Bahia Emerald has been caught in an ongoing tug of war between those who say the gem is rightfully theirs. Landing in an L.A. County sheriff's locker, the 180,000-carat, 840-pound behemoth has been the ... continue reading


THE RISE OF WOMEN: Negotiations between the U.S. and Cuba begin with two influential women leading the way Watch

Image of Jacobson and Vidal cover everything from human rights to tourist travels during the beginning of negotiations between Cuba and the U.S.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama recently loosened the embargo the United States has with Cuba. Now the next step is to negotiate and work towards less hostility and normalizing the relationship between the two countries. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At the base of these ... continue reading


Murderous gang violence plagues El Salvador every day with no end in sight, ambitious new plan offers hope Watch

Image of Gangs run the streets in El Salvador, often leaving people terrified to be out at night.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

412 people were murdered in El Salvador during December 2014. A total of 3,942 murders occurred last year in what is now the most dangerous country in the world. A 57 percent increase than those killed in 2013. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Violent gangs have ... continue reading


AMAZING discovery - mummy mask contains fragment of the Gospel of Mark Watch

Image of A fragment of the Gospel of Mark has been found used in the mask, making it the oldest known example of Holy Scripture yet found.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A mask is frequently used to conceal an identity. This is certainly the case of a mask used to cover up a mummy. A fragment of the Gospel of Mark has been found used in the mask, making it the oldest known example of Holy Scripture yet found. Created before 90 ... continue reading


A good or bad idea? Under the Obama administration, U.S. softens embargo with Cuba Watch

Image of Cuban flags fly high as embargo is loosened.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The relationship between the United States and Cuba will soon change as the Obama administration begins to slowly erase the 1962 U.S. embargo against Cuba. An increased amount of travel and trading between the two countries will open up. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Five years later Haiti still tragically suffers from 2010's earthquake: Where did $13.5 billion dollars in relief funds go? Watch

Image of Much of Haiti remains devastated after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in 2010, despite raising $13.5 dollars in relief funds.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake rattled Haiti in 2010 destroying nearly everything, and leaving 220,000 people dead and 300,000 injured. The entire world was shaken by this disaster; 13.5 billion dollars in donations and pledges was raised to help the country recover. LOS ... continue reading


CANNIBAL RITUAL: Mexican cartel members forced to eat human hearts Watch

Image of Arguably the country's most horrific organized crime gang, Michoacan state suffers daily from ongoing battles between rival factions.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Decapitating and ripping apart their still-living victims, the dreaded Knights Templar Mexican drug cartel forced members to devour the hearts of its enemies. The Knights Templar, reigning over Michoacan state, has kept the region in its iron grip by armed ... continue reading


Brazil looks forward to 2016 Olympics, but should their government be looking closer to home? Watch

Image of Brazil's drug trade primarily is based on cocaine and marijuana, and many slums in the cities are devoted and run to the drug trafficking gangs.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Vila Alianca, an unofficial section of Rio de Jeneiro,  is an enclave of violence and organized crime, and one of the regions that the Brazilian government has not decided to try to pacify prior to their hosting of the 2016 Olympics. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


EPIDEMIC FEMICIDE: The horrendous reality for women in Mexico Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Six women are assassinated every day in Mexico. Only 24 percent of the 3,892 femicides (female homicides) in 2012 and 2013 were investigated by authorities, according to the National Citizen Femicide Observatory. Only 1.6 percent of the femicides investigated let to a ... continue reading


One bite and you're doomed! President of Argentina graciously adopts a young boy to stop his dreadful werewolf curse. Watch

Image of According to Argentinian folklore, the seventh son born to a family is cursed to become a werewolf.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The seventh son or daughter to a family is cursed, according to Argentinian and Portuguese folklore. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On the first Friday after the seventh son's 13th birthday, he transforms into his true form, "el lobison." El lobison, or the ... continue reading


All Americas News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 10:19-25
19 We have then, brothers, complete confidence ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:21-25
21 He also said to them, 'Is a lamp brought in to be ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 29th, 2015 Image

Sts. Sarbelius & Barbea
January 29: Two martyrs, brother and sister, who were put to death at Edessa ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter