Our Lady of Coromoto weeps oil
January 29, 2003 - Reported in Spirit Daily.com online newspaper. Last week it was reported that a statue of Rosa Mystica allegedly was weeping blood in Caracas, Venezuela. It is at St. Cayetano Church. Now we are told another statue, above, left, located in the same chapel, is exuding oil. It is "Our Lady of Coromoto" with the Infant.
February 5th 2003 - A nation finds hope in Mary written by Owain Johnson
As reported in Sun Sentinel - Caracas, Venezuela · A statue of the Virgin Mary in an eastern Caracas church has given new hope to thousands of Venezuelans who feel ground down by the country's ongoing political crisis and the economic consequences of the recent general strike. In San Cayetano church, the statue of the Virgin of Coromoto, the patron of Venezuela, began to exude aromatic oil back in early December, when the prospects for the country were most bleak. On the fourth day of the general strike against President Hugo Chávez, two gunmen killed three people at an opposition rally.
Among those who died was 17-year-old Keyla Guerra, who had been baptized at San Cayetano. Four days after her death, the statue began to exude sweet-smelling oil. "I believe this is a blessing from God," said José Coromoto, the 75-year-old parish priest. "The Virgin is telling us not to fear and that God will lead Venezuela out of this labyrinth soon." Although church authorities have yet to make an official pronouncement on the seeming miracle, a growing amount of people have made theirway to San Cayetano to witness the phenomenon. As many as 300 people cram into the church at any one time, while the line outside snakes around the block. At busy times worshippers have to wait two or three hours to pray before the statue and to receive a piece of cotton wool impregnated with the statue's oil.
Reports are already emerging of the Virgin's healing powers. Coromoto tells how one of his parishioners, an elderly woman confined to a wheelchair, spent 15 minutes praying in front of the statue, then rose from her chair and walked home. But most of the visitors to the church are looking for spiritual healing. Those who have visited the statue say they experienced a moment of calm and tranquility, feelings that have been in very short supply in Venezuela in recent months. "I felt totally at peace," said Ferson Baricot, who works as a publicist. "This is a sign that we haven't been abandoned in our present difficult situation. We've all been praying to Her and this is Her way of reassuring us."
Anxious about the future, many worshippers are asking the Virgin to allow a new spirit of reconciliation to flourish in politically divided Venezuela. "We've never experienced anything like the present crisis before," said Gladys Prince, a history teacher. "We have never been so divided by hatred amongst brothers. The need for comfort has led to a new upsurge in religious faith throughout Venezuela, and even those churches that cannot boast a seemingly miraculous statue are reporting a dramatic increase in attendance at services. Adán Ramírez, the priest of Santa Teresa in downtown Caracas, believes Venezuela's present difficulties have shaken many people out of their normal routines and forced them to address what is important to them. He recalls that a similar phenomenon occurred in Argentina when that country first suffered its economic crisis.
Ramírez said his parishioners have spontaneously formed prayer groups, and he adds that he has been invited to celebrate Mass in apartment buildings where the residents have come to pray for a peaceful resolution to the country's crisis. "In adversity people tend to turn to God," he said. "They pray more and they look to the God that sympathizes with those who are suffering."
Crisis-Weary Venezuelans Put Faith in Virgin
Friday May 23, 2003 By Tomas Sarmiento - Reuters.com Caracas, Venezuela Reuters - When Venezuela's Catholic patroness the Virgin of Coromoto was paraded through Caracas this month, her statue was borne not on the shoulders of the faithful but in a bullet-proof vehicle. In a nation where polarized politics have led to violence in the last 18 months, authorities laid on extra security for the annual event. Despite their fears, the procession proved to be one of the rare times when feuding followers and foes of President Hugo Chavez have been able to congregate peacefully.
Forgetting their political differences, hundreds of Catholics took to the streets of Caracas to follow the life-sized wooden statue image in a two-week procession through the capital organized by the church. According to legend, the Coromoto Virgin takes her name from a Venezuelan Indian tribal chief in the 17th century who saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary in the central town of Guanare. The apparition prompted mass conversions to the Catholic faith among Indians during Spanish colonial rule.Today, the statue is the most revered Catholic icon in this country of 24 million, about 90 percent of whom are Roman Catholic. She is also a national symbol.The procession crossed the city's sprawling poor neighborhoods -- a stronghold of support for populist former paratrooper Chavez -- and wealthier eastern districts where the opposition holds sway.In both areas, the prayers of the faithful were mostly calls for peace and reconciliation.
"(The Virgin) Mary is the only hope all of us have for peace," an elderly priest, Father Alfredo Leon, said as he limped behind the Coromoto Virgin statue, which was blessed by Pope John Paul II in a visit to Venezuela in 1996.The worshipers who joined the procession carried banners bearing the virgin's portrait and pleas such as "Pray for us!" and "Mary, help us!" -- a far cry from the hate-filled slogans that have galvanized pro- and anti-Chavez political rallies.
Troops Guard Virgin
The calls for divine help for Venezuela seem justified. The world's fifth-largest oil exporter is mired in a deep recession, while unemployment and inflation are climbing.Political violence, including a coup against Chavez last year, has killed several dozen people and injured many more. Tensions between supporters and opponents of the president are simmering as the opposition seeks a referendum on Chavez' rule that can be held after August. The country emerged in February from a grueling two-month strike staged by the opposition in an attempt to oust Chavez and force elections.
Fear of violence was palpable in the virgin procession. In other countries sacred images are often carried by willing worshipers, but the Venezuelan Church employed a white "Popemobile" used by the pontiff when he last visited.Encased in bullet-proof glass, the statue of the virgin in red robe and gold crown surrounded by fresh flowers was escorted by National Guard troops with automatic rifles.But, in spite of the security precautions, an atmosphere of joyful celebration accompanied the procession.
Aboard trucks piled high with loud speakers, priests urged the crowd to cheer the virgin. Leading the procession, a school band -- accompanied by mini-skirted cheerleaders -- played catchy pop tunes.But in a nation where almost every aspect of life is tainted by politics, even divine favor can be disputed.Chavez, whose energetic style of oratory has been compared to that of an evangelical preacher, often invokes Jesus Christ as his "commander in chief.""God is with us!" he assures supporters, arguing his "revolution" for the poor is based on Christ's teaching.But the leftist leader's foes also openly pray for help.As the Coromoto Virgin's procession approached Altamira Square, a bastion of opposition support in east Caracas, a small group of women held up a banner that read: "Virgin of Coromoto, give your people freedom."