Catholic Mother's Resource Guide
by Maria Compton-Hernandez
HEALINGS AND OTHER MIRACLES CLAIMED WITH PICTURE FROM VENEZUELA
We get reports all the time of alleged miraculous pictures, and have no way of verifying each one. As always, we urge that no one have anything to do with supernatural events without first prayer and fasting. We think that even with holy items, there are often deceptions from the enemy.
At the same time, there are instances of grace, and for that reason we'll be reporting on a number of such situations. One we present for your discernment has come to us from Barb Smith at the Marian Peace Center in Joy Valley, Michigan. Mrs. Smith, who leads pilgrimages to various Catholic sites, says that healings, conversions, and inexplicable movements have been associated with an oil painting of the Virgin of Lourdes that she found in a fascinating way in Caracas, Venezuela.
It happened as she and a group of pilgrims were doing a little shopping at a religious store as they waited to take a bus to a Church-approved site of apparitions called Betania.
"As I came out of the door, I'm looking through the window and watching my people," Barb told us. "All of a sudden I stood up to look closer because something in the showcase caught my eye. There was a mirror in the window on the side and in the mirror I could see a reflection. I could see that there was an oil painting and I saw some blue in it and assumed it was part of Mary's gown."
Barb then went back into the store and asked the owner about it. It was stashed behind a bookcase and the owner didn't even remember it. They removed some items and took it out. There was no frame. It was just there on canvass. Barb immediately felt something special about it and purchased it on the spot. She then went back to the hotel to fetch a priest, Father Julio Rivero of Florida, to come over and bless it.
"Father went to pray over it," says Barb. "A very holy priest. He laid it on the counter, and as he was praying over it, he raised his hands. He's praying over the picture and all of a sudden all of us in the store witnessed it -- he was elevated, he was levitating, he was about a foot off the floor. Right in the store. All of a sudden-- we just stood there, we were all frozen, just mesmerized. We were watching and all of a sudden he started floating backwards. As God is my judge, he had to have gone back maybe one and a half or double the length of my desk. He floated in the air. And when he came down, he was set down so gently, and his whole body was just shaking and he started to cry and I said, 'Father, are you all right?' and he said, 'What happened? What happened?' He said the Blessed Mother told him through the Holy Spirit that many miracles -- many, many blessings and miracles -- would come forth through this image to all who believed and gazed upon Our Lady. Father just cried. He blessed it and we wrapped it up and took it to Betania because now we didn't want to just ship it."
As we said, this is all for your discernment. Obviously, these are spectacular claims. But Barb has proven credible in the past and she explains that events further unfolded once they reached Betania -- a hillside shrine about an hour from Caracas, one that has been officially declared by the local bishop as a place of miracles and "sacred ground."
Crossing a small bridge there with her pilgrims and a young girl who was ill with diabetes, Barb says that she looked to the right and all of a sudden in the trees saw the Virgin Mary. This was on March 25, 1997. "There she was and she was holding the Child Jesus," claims Mrs. Smith. "A real person. She was moving. She was faded but like the Queen of Peace. The little girl saw her just as clear as ever and said, 'It's Our Lady, it's Our Lady!' And right then and there about 70 people saw her. Everyone was crying and praying. It lasted about ten minutes. The Blessed Mother was holding the Child Jesus and all of a sudden she took Him off her shoulder and turned Him around and set Him on her hand and with the other hand supported His back, and she was showing Him, moving Him. This is what we saw. Then we saw Mary bend over. That's when the vision stopped. But not for the little girl. The little girl continued the story. She said [the Virgin] put Jesus down on the ground and once He touched His feet, he became a grown man."
The group also photographed a blue butterfly that is supposed to have supernatural significance -- arriving when the Virgin comes (photo below). While blue butterflies are indigenous to Latin America, witnesses have described its radiance as unusual and say it has come exactly when Maria Esperanza, the seer associated with Betania, has her visions, or when others see Mary (as hundreds have).
But Barb wanted one more confirmation. She asked God to have Maria look at the picture if there was indeed special significance to it. As Maria was making her way through the crowd, Barb prayed.
"'Let my eyes see her eyes look at the picture, even though it's all wrapped up,'" I prayed. "Well, Maria came down and was looking to the other side and she goes a couple yards beyond me -- she passed me, never once looked at the people on that side, but all of a sudden my mouth opened and not any louder than I'm talking right now came out the word, 'Momma.' I don't have any idea why I said that. Instantly Maria stopped. She turned around and her hands went up into the air -- she reads souls through the palms of her hands -- and she moved them for quite some time and then all of a sudden her eyes were looking at the picture and she never once looked at me. She looked directly at the picture. I was holding my breath. I couldn't even breathe. She got all the way to the picture and she made three signs of the Cross on the picture and bent over and kissed the picture. Then she looked up at me and she took her right hand and she put her right hand on my cheek and she kissed the other. She looked back at the picture, made one more sign of the Cross, and walked away. She took three or four steps, stopped, stood there, then she turned around and came back and made another sign of the Cross, bent down, and kissed the picture. She looked at me and smiled and I cried and I cried and cried. I went to turn and there stood a bishop and he took me right into his arms and I cried as he held me."
A few minutes later a priest took the painting from her arms, ripped off the paper, and yelled out to the crowd (there were about 30,000 present), "This is your mother!"
Another man got a stand and the picture was placed right in front of the altar, where it remained throughout Mass.
[For further information Marian Peace Center]
Barb and Father Rivero
E-mail this site to a friend
Return to home page