The Virgin of Coromoto is the Patroness of Venezuela. This Marian advocation, celebrated on September 11, dates back to the year 1652 when she appeared to a Native Indian whose name was Coromoto.
The city of Guanare was founded in 1591 by the Spaniards. Most Indians had fled the newly founded town and taken to the forest to avoid the Europeans, including the missionaries sent to evangelize the natives in the Catholic faith.
Coromoto was the chief of the tribe and he was walking with his wife close to the Tucupido river when they saw a beautiful woman with a kind demeanor holding a gentle baby in her arms. The mysterious lady called the chief and said, “Leave this forest taking your people with you and go where the white men are, so that you receive water on your heads and may thus enter heaven”.
The chief decided to obey the beautiful lady and departed with his tribe to receive the teachings of Christianity and prepare for baptism. After some time, however, Coromoto and his tribe found it difficult to adapt to this new way of life and returned to the forest. The lady appeared to Coromoto again, this time in his hut, but the chief was determined to stay home and rejected her exhortation. Despite the luminous aura of light surrounding the beautiful woman, he tried to threaten her to make her leave and, in a menacing gesture, tried to grab her in anger. In that moment, the woman disappeared. Coromoto was left standing with a closed fist and, inside his fist, he found a small stamp with an image of the mysterious lady.
Some time passed and the chief was bitten by a poisonous snake. Thinking he could die, the chief remembered Our Lady’s promise of going to heaven if he was baptized, and so he urgently asked to be baptized. News of the apparition spread quickly; the rest of the Coromotos were baptized shortly after their chief and embraced the Catholic faith. A church was built in honor of Our Lady of Coromoto in Guanare in the 1700s. In the 1980s, a shrine was built at the location of the 1652 apparition. Both churches are now minor basilicas. The original relic is housed in the shrine along with a large statue of Our Lady of Coromoto.
The image of the Virgin of Coromoto is a minute relic, 27 millimiters long by 22 millimiters wide. The stamp is made of some sort of parchment or “silk paper”. The drawing depicts the upper half of Our Lady in a seated position, holding baby Jesus on her lap. In 2009, a team of experts studied the tiny image. You can read about their findings in the following link: