Our Lady of Coromoto
Our Lady of Coromoto
Our Lady of Coromoto (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Coromoto, also known as the Virgin of Coromoto (Spanish: Virgen de Coromoto) is a celebrated Catholic image of an alleged apparition of the Virgin Mary. In 1942 she was declared the Patroness of Venezuela.
When the city of Guanare (capital of Portuguesa state) was founded in 1591, the Indian tribe who inhabited the region, the Cospes, fled to the north jungle. When the Catholic Church began to evangelize its efforts were at first resisted. One day in 1651, when the Cacique (the Indian Chieftain) and his wife were crossing a stream of water, they saw a Lady of extraordinary beauty that said to them in their native tongue: “Go to the house of the white men and ask, them to pour water on your heads so as to be able to enter Heaven.” The Cacique moved by the souvenir of the Beautiful Lady, as they called Her since, was promptly ready and several Indians received it, but not so the Cacique who was yearning for his jungle: there, he was in command, here, on the contrary he had to obey. Finally, he prepared his escape and would have put it into effect, were it not again by another intervention of the Blessed Virgin. Thus, on the night of Saturday the 8th of September of 1652, She appeared lo him in his hut, in the presence of his wife, his sister in law Isabel, and her little Indian nephew (This is the only time that the Blessed Virgin Mother has appeared to a family). When the Cacique sees Her, he grabs an arrow and aims to kill Her; but Our Lady, gets near to him. Then he throws the arrow and tries to push Her, but She disappears, leaving in his hand, in a small paper of parchment, Her blessed image.
The Virgin of Coromoto is a tiny relic that measures 27 milimeters high and 22 wide. The holy card’s material could be parchment or tissue paper. The Virgin is painted seated, and on her lap sits the Child Jesus. It seems to have been drawn with a fine pen, sketched as a portrait done in India ink with dots and dashes. The Virgin and Child are looking straight ahead; their heads erect with royal crowns upon them. The back of the throne which supports them has two columns joined together by an arch. The Virgin’s shoulders are covered by a crimson cloak with dark purple reflections, and a white veil falls symmetrically over her hair. She wears a straw colored tunic and the Child a white one. The image is kept inside a richly adorned monstrance where it is presented for the veneration of the faithful.
Some say the chief’s name was Coromoto and his tribe the Cospes, others that Coromoto was the name of the tribe. Pope John Paul II crowned her in his visit to the Marian shrine in Guanare, and Pope Benedict XVI elevated the National Shrine of Our Lady of Coromoto to the rank of Minor Basilica. The shrine has three fiestas: February 2, the Feast of the Purification; September 8, the Birth of the Virgin; and September 11, the anniversary of the coronation of Our Lady of Coromoto in 1952.