Apparition Site In Venezuela Reopens After Damage By Storm Seer Prophesied
By Michael H. Brown
The Church-approved apparition site of Betania in Venezuela was temporarily closed due to a flash flood that rose more than 20 feet in an adjacent river -- wreaking havoc but sparing a famous grotto with an image of the Madonna.
Sources in Caracas say the site has now reopened and mud is being cleared from an outdoor structure where Mass was held and from other buildings that were damaged in an unexpected storm that roared through the last week of September.
According to Carlos Marrero Bornn, a son-in-law who interprets for visionary Maria Esperanza, the event was foreseen just days before by the famous mystic, whose site of apparitions about an hour from Caracas was approved by a formal Church decree back in 1987.
The recent events began on September 22 during a family gathering. There was what Bornn, a businessman, describes as a strange sign in the sky. As always, we submit these matters for your discernment. "It was a Sunday, and it was something incredible," he told Spirit Daily. "We were at my mother-in-law's house, on the porch, and were sharing with her -- having a beautiful family time -- when suddenly in the sky -- in this beautiful, calm blue sky -- we saw a cloud that resembled a white feather, like the feather of a dove. You can see many things in clouds, but it was so similar to a feather that we all immediately commented about it. It was really detailed -- really something. My mother-in-law couldn't see where she was seated on her wheelchair, so we moved her and she was completely amazed.
"She got goose bumps and said it was a sign that God wanted to tell her something."
It is common for Esperanza (who is more a mystic on the order of St. Padre Pio than simply a seer), to have daily experiences, and it was here -- as Maria perceived the cloud from her porch -- that the prophecy allegedly began. "She didn't only see the feather, but also the face of Our Lord," Carlos recounts. "We could also see some features of His face, but as she was seeing it, you could tell it was much clearer for her. She started to feel in her heart, and to receive, and as she was receiving, the cloud was changing from the shape of a feather to different shapes, while the air remained very still, with no breeze at all.
"It wasn't moving. It was very stable. But this cloud changed forms and the first thing my mother-in-law said she felt in her heart was a 'storm -- like a big storm that is coming.' And she said she didn't know how to stop it. 'I have to pray for that,' she said, 'because I see that it is going to be something very fast and unexpected. But at the same time it will be not a bad thing, but a purification.'"
Bornn says at first he and others speculated that it might be related to a hurricane whirling about the hemisphere. But Maria also mentioned that "men wanted war," recounts Carlos (who is married to Esperanza's daughter Coromoto), and so there was also speculation that the "storm" might be a metaphor for coming military conflict.
Two days later came the answer:
A storm that swept in the following Tuesday and Wednesday (September 24 and 25), putting the famous apparition site under water and nearly taking the lives of a caretaker and his family, who were saved -- they claim -- by what seemed like Maria's voice -- even though the mystic was an hour away at her home near Caracas.
"They had one daughter and a baby boy," says Bornn. "They said it was clear most of the night, that you couldn't have predicted a storm was coming. It started pouring at midnight and suddenly, at about three in the morning, they heard their baby crying. Henry, who is the caretaker, stood up from bed and found his legs submerged in water, almost up to the knees. He got very scared. The electrical power was off. He was desperate because he heard the river roaring. His wife started crying, holding the baby, but suddenly Henry's wife started to hear Maria Esperanza's voice. She said she heard my mother-in-law singing! Henry couldn't hear but his wife could hear Maria" [who, among other mystical gifts, is known for what is called "bilocation," and who was born on the feast day of St. Cecilia, the patron of music].
"When Henry opened the door, Betania was under water. It was covering everything, and the current was so strong that they thought they would die. But Henry's wife said, 'Follow me. I'm hearing Maria Esperanza's voice.' She started to follow the voice and he started to follow her with the baby and they reached the top of a little hill that wasn't under the water. That's the place she felt Maria Esperanza wanted her to be."
As it turned out, it was a safe haven. The flood literally changed the landscape of Betania. Many surrounding homes were destroyed. And trees were swept away. The grotto was filled with water, but did not touch the statue. There remains mud everywhere, but it's hoped the site will soon fully recover. In the meantime, was it a harbinger?
Esperanza believes something new will now start in Betania, like a "rebirth," and that the world is approaching momentous times, as she has expressed previously. She opposes war with Iraq and believes it may push the world to a situation that cannot be controlled. Bornn has related it to a prophecy from Esperanza two years ago, in which the mystic publicly warned that two powers -- one small, one larger, desiring to instigate a war -- would attempt to provoke the U.S. on its own soil, a description that seems clearly tied to September 11.
"She feels this is about to happen," notes the interpreter. "She wants everybody to be clear that she does not want this war and it must be avoided. She feels the consequences can be out of control. She feels it will bring much suffering. The same day that she predicted the storm, she said that in the near future there will come times in which we will need a lot of courage. We're going to have to pray a lot. She is praying that somehow the war doesn't happen. These are times of big changes -- in many ways for the better. A preparation for what is to come." As for timing, Carlos adds: "From God's point of view it is the near future, because for Him time doesn't matter. But my mother-in-law does feel many things are going to happen very, very soon, because the situation in the world right now is quite complicated from the human point of view. "
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[Link to the archived Esperanza story]
[A VCR tape on the significance of Betania is available in the Spiritdaily bookstore]