Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/21/2011 (2 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 (2 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 September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Americas

Was it really a meteorite? NASA scientists remain skeptical about Nicaraguan crater Watch

Image of A meteorite from a passing asteroid may have caused a crater in Nicaragua on the evening of September 6.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A meteorite crashed in Managua, Nicaragua, late on the evening of September 6, causing a loud explosion and leaving a crater 39 feet across, Nicaraguan government officials reported. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nicaraguan spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said ... continue reading


These 14th century artifacts are headed back to their proper home Watch

Image of 14th century artifacts from Colombia being displayed in a Spanish museum.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Spain has returned 691 indigenous artifacts to Colombia, which were seized during a police operation 11 years ago LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Most of these ceramic items are of huge cultural and archaeological value, and date to around 1400 BC. They had been ... continue reading


Is the Islamic State - In Mexico? Officials deny 'car bombing' rumors Watch

Image of While it's nightmarishly plausible - and there have been warnings from the international community to the United States as such, the Department of Homeland Security has denied claims on from a watchdog group that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has militants stationed in Juarez, Mexico.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While it's nightmarishly plausible - and there have been warnings from the international community to the United States as such, the Department of Homeland Security has denied claims on from a watchdog group that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has ... continue reading


Deadly silence: 92,000 Columbians remain missing Watch

Image of Around 4,000 graves have been discovered and 5,000 bodies found, following the confessions of scores of paramilitary warlords.

By Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters Foundation

More than 92,000 Colombians have disappeared during 50 years of war and at the hands of drug gangs, and the government needs to step up efforts to find missing people, the Red Cross said. (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Every day nine people are reported missing ... continue reading


GOING DIGITAL: Ecuador plans digital currency Watch

Image of Some believe that Ecuador's new digital currency will eventually lead to the nation's abandonment of paper and coin currency altogether - i.e., the United States dollar.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a bold move into the 21st Century, the South American nation of Ecuador is now planning digital currency. Some believe this will eventually lead to the nation's abandonment of paper and coin currency altogether - i.e., the United States dollar. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


California Governor: 'You're all welcome,' even illegal immigrants Watch

Image of California Governor Jerry Brown meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

California Governor Jerry Brown in a speech this week declared that all Mexicans, including illegal immigrants, are welcome in California. While introducing Mexican President Enrique Pe√Īa Nieto, who said America is "the other Mexico," Brown "spoke about the ... continue reading


Argentine president may take drastic measures to deal with debt Watch

Image of Argentinian President Cristina FernŠndez praised her nation's financial system as being

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Argentinian President Cristina Fern√°ndez praised her nation's financial system as being "one of the most solid in the world" during a speech at the Buenos Aires stock exchange last week. Many disagree, saying that they fear the mercurial president may go to ... continue reading


GRISLY HARVEST: Mexican children, adults murdered for their organs Watch

Image of Victims targeted by organ harvesters usually range in age from seven to 10 years while younger children are often kidnapped for adoption.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The already rampant criminal network in Mexico and South America, in addition to dealing drugs, has taken to abducting children and adults in order to murder then and harvest their vital organs. The lucrative, underground business of livers, lungs and eyes to ... continue reading


MASSIVE ACID SPILL: Mexico closes 88 schools after 10 million gallons of acid spills from copper mine Watch

Image of Officials are working to de-acidify the two rivers by adding heaps of calcium to the water. Acid levels are dropping, Mexico's National Water Commission said, but the water is still not totally safe.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An ecological disaster of momentous proportion is unfolding near the U.S. - Mexico border after a massive acid spill from a copper mine has found its way into waterways. Up to 5,000 school children will be kept out of 88 schools for a week as 800,000 people ... continue reading


The new favorite weapon of the drug cartels has arrived in America -- and it will shock you Watch

Image of Mexican soldiers with hundreds of bricks of marijuana, which is about to be burned.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Mexican drug cartels are utilizing a deadly military weapon to keep local residents in terror and protect drug stockpiles. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Authorities on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border say that the cartels are using the grenades. Four live ... 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, First Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49
35 Someone may ask: How are dead people raised, and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 56:10-12, 13-14
10 In God whose word I praise, in Yahweh whose word I ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:4-15
4 With a large crowd gathering and people from every ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 20th, 2014 Image

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions
September 20: Feastday: September 20 The evangelization of Korea began ... 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