A daughter of mystic Maria Esperanza says a video of her mother experiencing the supernatural materialization of a rose is still being withheld by Church authorities pending evaluation of the famous seer, who passed away in 2004.
Maria, who exhibited stigmata on Good Fridays (witnessed by two medical doctors), was an agent for numerous healings, was seen in an ecstatic state of levitation, bilocated, could "read" souls a la Padre Pio, and had Church-approved apparitions of the Blessed Mother at a site near Caracas called Betania, was reported by credible witnesses as exhibiting a phenomenon that in rarity surpassed all the aforementioned: the actual and excruciating eruption of a rose from her chest, thorny stem and all.
We once located a historic saint who also was reported to have such manifestations, but the name of that saint -- an obscure one -- has been lost to us. Maria -- whose cause of beatification was opened several years ago in New Jersey -- remains the sole known recent mystic (with the possible exception of an alleged and as yet unapproved seer from the Philippines) who experienced what her daughter, Maria Coromoto, calls the "rose birth."
It began on January 18 in 1986, and occurred on sixteen occasions, according to Coromoto, witnessed by dozens, including a Caracas news crew that filmed it. The video is being held from public view by ecclesiastic authorities pending her beatification cause, Coromoto confirmed to us. "It was captured on video but we cannot release it until authorities consider it prudent to do so," Coromoto says.
In addition to members of her family, the rose eruption was detailed years ago by the late John Marion, a former CBS radio broadcaster who later hosted a Catholic radio show in Philadelphia.
Marion witnessed the alleged phenomenon on August 15, 1995, while visiting Esperanza at Betania.
The occurrence can only be described as inconceivable. We blame no one for skepticism if not outright doubt.
Never, however, was Maria nor any member of her family found to even exaggerate mystical experiences associated with her, let alone fabricate one. They remain discrete about a number of extraordinary events, phenomena, and messages.
Others who observed the phenomenon included Carolina Fuenmayor, a television newswoman for Venevision in Caracas at the time, and Dr. Chebly (who first name we do not have) and Dr. Alfonso Gutierrez Burgos, both of the Caracas area.
Fuenmayor, a secular news broadcaster at the time, was the one who recorded the phenomenon but withheld it at the insistence of Maria, who did not want it released at least until after her death.
The idea of a rose coming from someone's body stretches the most open of minds, although phenomena associated with Saint Padre Pio -- whom Maria had met -- were equally as baffling and difficult to believe.
"My travel agent and I were down there on business, a hot summer night, and it was close to one o'clock in the morning," Marion told Spirit Daily years ago, before his own death. "We were seated in the compound area at the shrine site. We were wondering why Maria had kept us waiting so long. We had been waiting four to five hours.
"During that period a group of American pilgrims had also arrived wanting to see Maria. While we were waiting there we hear a cry from Maria's son-in-law. 'John, John, hurry! Come over here!' What they had done was set a chair in the compound area for Maria and helped by some family members, they placed her in the chair. They told me to keep looking. I couldn't imagine what would happen. She was experiencing some kind of pain. She was very uncomfortable in the chair.
Maria sort of parted the blouse she was wearing and a red spot began to appear. I stared. It kept getting bigger and bigger and Maria was really in pain. Then this red spot began to take a shape and I recognized the shape as that of a rose -- a deep red rose, first budlike as she continued to force it out right through her body, causing great pain -- until finally it was through and fully in bloom. There was this big red beautiful rose.
"I couldn't believe it. I turned to my agent in amazement. He said, `I know, I know. I see it!' After the rose cleared Maria's body, you could see this stem, about two inches of stem, and Maria broke it off, then she handed a petal first to a priest, three nuns, and then she called me over and gave me a piece.
"The next day I was told she passed the rest of the stem, with thorns on it. It was like she was giving birth -- the same expression and same kind of pain and couldn't wait to get it out, then she held it lovingly in her hands. If you went into a florist shop for a single long-stemmed red rose in full bloom, that was what it looked like. It was absolutely beautiful and I couldn't believe my eyes -- it was such a phenomenon."
[see also: "The incredible Maria Esperanza story," archives]
[Mailbag: "Dear Betania family: We ask today that you pray for all of us here in Venezuela in a special way because the situation is getting more and more tense, today the conflicts between the people and the military have actually reached our own streets, tear gas around our homes, pray for us in a special and urgent way please!!! We thank you all! Vanessa and Marvin
I would like to ask that everyone pray Psalm 91 7 times & a special rosary for The family & all the people of Caracas & Venezuela in general, as soon as possible. Also the following prayers that Maria was given from heaven: God living and palpitating, beat in my heart. God alive and present, stay with me. My God is my life. My Lord and my God. Father in heaven give us a glance of your love. Father Mazz]