More than a dozen people missing in Venezuela after following woman to meet the Virgin Mary
More than a dozen people DISAPPEAR two weeks ago after following a woman in the Andes Mountains when she told them she had received a revelation from the Virgin Mary
- In the town of La Grita. in western Venezuela, about 20 people have been reported missing
- Rosa García organized the retreat after telling the group that the Virgin Mary told her the world was going to end
- At least 40 people left their homes on August 22 and accompanied Rosa García for a trip to Juan Pablo Peñaloza National Park to meet God or the Virgin Mary
- Some people within the group decided to return home after García told them they could not worship Christ and look into the virgin’s eyes
Up to 20 people, including five children, are still missing in Venezuela after a spiritual retreat led by a woman who says the Virgin Mary told her the world was about to end.
Rosa García, 57, is said to have initially persuaded as many as 40 people in the town of La Grita in Táchira to join her on her trip to Juan Pablo Peñaloza National Park on Aug. 22, according to La Nacion newspaper.
García is said to have told the group that they would have a spiritual encounter with God or the Virgin Mary in an unfamiliar area in the park that lies along the border of the western states of Táchira and Mérida.
They were due to return on Thursday and were reported missing later that day after failing to show up at their homes.
Authorities in Venezuela are looking for more than a dozen people reported missing after a 57-year-old woman in La Grita, Táchira convinced them to join her on a spiritual retreat. Apparently she told her followers that the Virgin Mary told her that the world was about to end
About 160 members of law enforcement and search and rescue teams in La Grita are working together to locate the group, including the spiritual leader. They have been missing since August 22
Some individuals dropped out of the group when García began to behave erratically, La Nacion reported.
García instructed the group to stop worshiping the Holy Christ of La Grita, not to look the Virgin Mary in the eye, and to throw away their cell phones.
Authorities said on Wednesday that nine of the missing persons are from the same family and that the group is traveling in two vehicles.
La Grita mayor Juan Carlos Escalante said 160 members of a search and rescue team and law enforcement agencies were looking for the group. Drones and sniffer dogs were also deployed as part of a wider search.
The mountainous town of La Grita is 4,725 feet above sea level.
Authorities on Monday found an abandoned farmhouse (not pictured) where members of the missing group had left clothes and food
The mayor of La Grita deployed a large contingent of the city’s police and search and rescue teams to locate the group, including the spiritual advisor, who persuaded them to join her on a journey to the Andes Mountains to the west. from Venezuela. She promised a meeting with God and the Virgin Mary
The mountainous town of La Grita is 4,725 feet above sea level
On Monday, authorities discovered an abandoned farm where some of the people still missing have thrown away various items of clothing and left food.
According to locals, García quit a prayer group in the area and started her own group called “Following Jesus.” The group often met to hold prayer sessions for those battling illness.
Others recalled that García’s group “switched from religious practices to fanaticism” and noted that group members “spent their time patting the back” while promoting their religious ideas.
Some said García’s family thought she was mentally unstable.
“She sent people to confess, go to mass and pray,” one resident told La Nacion. “She said many bad things would come, that Christ wept tears of blood for what we all do. That the world would end.’
Since March, none of the group members have been allowed to watch television and they had to start praying every day at 3 a.m., reports the digital news channel Impacto Venezuela. Women were also urged not to do their hair and were not allowed to show their faces when they left their home.
During a mass held Sunday at the La Grita Minor Basilica of the Holy Spirit, Father Jesús Mora warned the congregation to be aware of people like García who could do more harm than good.
“You have to be afraid of fanatics, because a fanatic can do a lot of damage,” Mora said. “God doesn’t want us to be fanatics.”
García is not married and runs her own station at a food stand owned by her sister Teresa García – one of her 13 siblings.
She could have influenced Teresa to join the retreat along with her husband, two children, son-in-law and grandson.