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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Americas

Rare video shows 'successful' exorcism on woman 'possessed by devil' Watch

Image of Laura was described by locals as

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A 22-year-old woman, only identified as Laura, was reportedly a good girl before the devil turned her bad, according to Argentina locals. In this disturbing footage, Laura is seen writhing in pain, screaming as Bishop Manuel Acuna performs an exorcism on her. LOS ... continue reading


Magical Chilean hotel straight from 'The Hobbit:' features living wall, waterfall Watch

Image of The hotel, completely made out of wood and stone, is located under the majestic Andes Mountain range, the unique hotel is right in the middle of one of the most valued, as well as endangered regions in the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Montana Magica Lodge, located in the middle of the southern Andes is something straight from "The Hobbit." It is a literal "Magic Mountain." There is a manmade volcano with a stunning waterfall cascading down its side. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Falling to progress, the beautiful Lake Nicaragua will be compromised by artificial canal Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A massive, fabricated canal, headed by the Hong Kong-based consortium HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company, or HKND is set to undergo construction. The $50 billion project, called the Nicaragua Canal, or the Nicaragua Grand Canal and Inter-oceanic ... continue reading


Mummified bodies of two climbers missing for 55 years believed found Watch

Image of Local officials are confident that the cadavers correspond to two of three Mexicans who went missing after an avalanche 55 years ago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

At 18,000 feet, Pico de Orizaba in Mexico is the country's highest elevated level. Several climbers have lost their lives trying to scale the mountain. The skeletal remains of two climbers, recently discovered there, are believed to be two of three members of ... continue reading


Villarrica's spectacular eruption: Nature's version of 'fireworks' Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Chile's most active volcano finally erupted, after starting to show signs of seismic disturbance a few days ago. The volcanic activity raised alarm to over 3,300 residents who were evacuated from the small towns of Villarrica, Pucon and Conaripe before the eruption ... continue reading


Beautiful 'Lost City' found in the jungles of Honduras Watch

Image of The

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists have finally found the main subject of legends and folklore about "monkey children," a "monkey god" and a "massive source of gold." The city that was left mysteriously by an unidentified civilization hundreds of years ago has been rediscovered in the far ... continue reading


Infamous leader of Knights Templar drug cartel arrested Watch

Image of Servando Gomez, the leader of the Knights Templar drug cartel, was arrested by Mexican authorities. This will deal a critical blow to the deadly group.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A major blow has been dealt to the infamous Knights Templar drug cartel, after Mexican federal police arrested Servando Gomez, the leader of the group, on February 27. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Knights Templar have been operating out of the ... continue reading


SNOW FUN: Eastern Canada inundated by heavy snowfall (PICTURES) Watch

Image of Snow has hammered eastern Canada is some of the heaviest snowfall in years.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Many residents in eastern Canada have resigned themselves to sitting out this winter. Massive snowfalls have left many prisoners in their homes, snow past windowsills, reaching up to roofs in many parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Twice as deadly: Virulent strain of AIDS now plaguing Cuba Watch

Image of A new strain of HIV in Cuba that progresses to AIDS twice as fast has many medical officials worried. Those who contract this form of HIV are left with a much shorter window in which they can seek treatment.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new strain of HIV in Cuba that progresses to AIDS twice as fast has many medical officials worried. Those who contract this form of HIV are left with a much shorter window in which they can seek treatment. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A deadly mix of ... continue reading


VIDEO: Snow doesn't stop Canadian super train in a spectacular video Watch

Image of The track, being completely covered with high snow, the windscreen at the front of the train likewise is also all blocked up. At this point, you'd be hard pressed to guess there was a train approaching.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A spectacular video is making the rounds, and it's just another case of a not-so-little engine that could. A Canadian freight train doesn't shy away from a massive snow bank - and plows straight through it, spreading snow all over the place in a mini-avalanche. ... 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, Isaiah 50:4-9
4 Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34
8 I am estranged from my brothers, alienated from my ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 26:14-25
14 Then one of the Twelve, the man called Judas ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 1st, 2015 Image

St. Hugh of Grenoble
April 1: Benedictine bishop of Grenoble, France, patron of St. Bruno. He ... 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