OREM — Our Lady of Coromoto, the patroness of Venezuela, was honored at a special Mass on Sept. 10 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Orem.
According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to the chief of the Coromoto Indians in the area of the city of Guanare in Venezuela. She appeared twice: once in 1651 in a river canyon and again in 1652 in the chief’s hut. Both times she urged him to be baptized in the Catholic Church. The second time she left behind an image of herself, which now is known as Our Lady (or the Virgin) of Coromoto.
In Venezuela, Our Lady of Coromoto Day is celebrated on Sept. 11. Those who have a devotion to her are known as Coromotanos. Here in Utah, local Coromotanos as well as others gathered Sept. 10 for a Mass that was celebrated by Fr. Jose Rausseo, pastor of San Andres Parish and its associated missions. Concelebrating were Fr. Eleazar Silva Galvan and Fr. Anil Kumar, respectively the pastor and parochial vicar of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish. Assisting was Deacon Vicente Vazquez.
“One of the most beautiful attributions to Our Lady of Coromoto is that she is a baptismal virgin,” said Fr. Silva in his homily as he narrated the story of the Virgin’s apparitions.
“When the Roman Catholic Church began to evangelize [in Venezuela], its efforts were at first resisted. So the Virgin appeared twice to the chief of the local tribe,” Fr. Silva said. “When God our Lord sees that his children need some extraordinary help, he sent his emissary, the Virgin of Coromoto, to send his messages.”
Fr. Silva made very clear that this type of help doesn’t happen very often. Our Lady wanted the people of the beautiful land of Venezuela “to receive baptism so all could be her children,” he said.
Illustrating this idea with a more colloquial example, Fr. Silva asked what happens at a Christmas dinner when all the children except one are at the family table.
“Their mother, despite being happy to see them, in her heart is always the thought that there is one missing. So her joy is not totally complete,” he said. “The Virgin of Coromoto, patroness of Venezuela, was missing her indigenous people as her children. She wanted them at her side so she could hug them as she does with her child Jesus.”
Our Lady of Coromoto is a mother going out looking for her children because she misses them, Fr. Silva said.
“In this land very far and very different from Venezuela, we are thankful for the celebration of Our Lady of Coromoto, knowing that her presence here helps us to complete what in Venezuela is missing,” he said. “We know that tables in Venezuela are not complete – many people are not there and when she sees those tables she misses her children … but that’s why we are celebrating her here; we are praying to her here in Utah.”
Our Lady knows the whereabouts of the Venezuelans living in Utah, he said before asking those present to kneel while venerating Our Lady and reciting her prayer.
Also during the celebration, Fr. Rausseo blessed the image of Our Lady with holy water.
At the end both priests thanked all for attending the celebration and invited them to join a small gathering in honor of Our Lady.