As Anniversary Approaches, Mystics Relatives Relate Unusual Occurrences And Confirmation Of Documentation
The family of Maria Esperanza is trying to keep a "low profile" with evidence for what appears to have been remarkable events attached to the world-famous Catholic seer, who died a year ago this Sunday.
According to son-in-law and family spokesman Carlos Marrero Bornn, the family, led by Maria's husband, Geo, is following official guidelines as the Church considers her cause for veneration -- the first step on the way to potential sainthood.
"But there are incredible things," Bornn told Spirit Daily Tuesday. "There are old messages, from back before she was married. There are photographs. There is a video. And so many things have been happening as far as the strong presence of my mother-in-law. Everything has been flowing in a beautiful way."
Esperanza, who was associated with the Church-approved apparition site of Betania near Caracas, Venezuela -- a site approved when Pope Benedict XVI was prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (which oversees alleged apparitions) -- died on August 7, 2004, after prophesying that the mid-point of that very year would see a great change in the course of events, events that she had long predicted would include both difficult times like natural disasters and a glorious new awakening.
Originally expected to die on July 6, she made what doctors said was an amazing recovery, lasting another 33 days until every one of her six children were able to fly from Caracas to be by her bedside in New Jersey, where she said she was on a final "mission" and also was seeking medical help for a long, debilitating, Parkinson's-like disorder.
As if a bellwether, her death was followed in quick succession by Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances, Hurricane Ivan, Hurricane Jeanne, the Asian tsunami, the death of Fatima seer Lucia dos Santos, the momentous death of John Paul II -- for whom Maria dedicated her own suffering -- and the election of Benedict XVI.
Esperanza -- who foresaw September 11 and predicted a time of earthquakes and other upheavals -- left five daughters, all named after the Virgin Mary and two of whom are now said experiencing mystical events, including locutions and visions, which according to Bornn Maria prophesied would happen back in 1978.
"She was like a living sign of the beginning of events leading to a new era," said the son-law, who also served as Maria's official translator. "Now, at Betania, it is amazing. We feel so drawn there. They are building homes there for pilgrims, and a replica of the House of Loreto. The 'calls' to Betania are more frequent, and there are so many wonderful things. Plants are growing in a way that amazed an agricultural engineer who took a tour recently. He said, 'What you have here is blessed land. I have never seen such tomatoes without fertilizer."
Bornn described a number of other putative manifestations since the seer's death. The businessman said that on his wife Maria Coromoto's birthday last February 3, while praying at Maria's grave in the Cemetery of the East, Coromoto asked for a rose petal as a present from her mother and when she returned found a full rose in the car.
"It was unlike what you see in a bouquet," said Carlos. "It had no stem, and when she put it in a dish, with some water, it stayed incredibly fresh for a tremendous length of time. It never did turn brown, and it still has a strong aroma."
Esperanza was closely associated with roses, including the sudden appearance of petals, the rose-like odor of sanctity, and the alleged materialization of an actual full-stemmed rose from her chest on 15 occasions -- a phenomenon that has challenged the credulity of even the most believing but has been witnessed by family members, journalists, businessmen, and doctors on a number of occasions.
According to Bornn, a video of the phenomenon -- striking even in the annals of saints -- was caught on video by a Caracas economist and family friend named Eduardo Beherenz but will not be publicly shown for at least five years, on recommendation of Church officials who have urged the family to keep the low profile.
"We're following Church directions," said Bornn, explaining that there had been a plan initially to locate Maria's body for viewing at Betania, but that an Opus Dei priest speaking on behalf of the diocese counseled the family to bury Esperanza as a normal person until the processes of potential veneration, beatification, and canonization are complete.
"They do not want the family promoting her cause," said Carlos. "They want the cause to come from the people. We are allowed to promote 'Our Lady, Reconciler of Nations,' and messages pertaining to that."
It was under that title that Mary appeared at Betania first in 1976 and then 1984. The bishop, Pio Bello Ricardo, a psychologist by training, interviewed hundreds of witnesses, including doctors, psychiatrists, engineers, lawyers, and even a general before issuing a pastoral letter declaring the supernatural nature of the 1984 occurrence.
It was Esperanza who discovered Betania after a revelation in her youthful years; experienced the first apparitions there; and foresaw the 1984 event, which was witnessed by so many gathered there.
The bishop, who consulted both then-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II before issuing his conclusion, also declared Betania as officially "sacred ground."
Bornn said that messages and other documents and photos pertaining to Esperanza are now being digitalized and that her messages are read and pondered by the family on a regular basis. He said one foresaw that Geo would outlive her, quoting the Virgin as saying that a husband who would see her to the end of her life was being prepared for her.
That was in 1955 before meeting her future husband in Rome -- where they were married on December 8, 1956, in a choir chapel at St. Peter's Basilica.
Bornn said that a medal placed on Maria's body and now kept by a woman in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, has been responsible for what may be at least three "miracles," and that Esperanza seems to send frequent signs to family members.
The night before Benedict was chosen Pope, said Bornn, as Coromoto related a message about the new pontiff, relatives smelled smoke, as if a presage to the Vatican's smoke signal.
According to Bornn, Esperanza's old messages -- never publicly revealed -- describe how the world will be when Christ returns "and match what we are living now in such a dramatic way."
"We are reading her messages from before she was married and how they describe the moment we're living right now and how wonderful it will be," says the son-in-law. "God will change the world in a wonderful way!"
[resources: The Bridge To Heaven]
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