Mrs. Maria Esperanza, through earlier messages of Our Lady, was already aware of the existence of Her land. Our Lady, on numerous occasions spoke about a Holy Land which would be "The New Ark of Salvation". She told her that it was located in the North central part of Venezuela, and that it would come to be a "Place of constant prayer and pilgrimage" for the Venezuelan people and in time, for all the Nations of the world; and, so all People and Nations could hold hands in Reconciliation; and where Church and People would be united in one heart, i.e. Church and People working together united by one objective:
On March 29, 1974, Mrs. Maria Esperanza recognized the land from the description she received in the messages, for it coincided perfectly with the place: The old house, the sugar mill, the sugar cane and coffee plantation, and the grotto with crystal clear water.
The symbolic confirmation that it was the announced and chosen place of Our Lady was made to Mrs. Maria Esperanza through the sign of a blue butterfly. In messages received many years before, Our Lady announced that when Mrs. Maria Esperanza found the land She would manifest Herself through the wings of a blue butterfly. This occurred when Mrs. Maria Esperanza found the Holy Land and suddenly from its grotto a blue butterfly fluttered over the place. This reaffirmed what had been announced through the messages in a simple, but very beautiful way. At present the blue butterfly appears during many special moments flying from the grotto, then fluttering over the terrace, and then disappearing into the vegetation.
Two years later, on March 25, 1976, just as it had been announced, the Holy Mother of God appeared for the first time in Betania, under a new title, Mary Virgin and Mother Reconciler of People and Nations . After this beautiful experience, Our Lady continued to appear in the following years, but it was only until 1984 when She appeared to one hundred and fifty persons, who testify to seeing Her clearly and distinctly. This was a very diverse group: Children, college students, adults, military men, physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, engineers, judges, etc.
From that moment, an investigation by the Bishop of the dioceses of Los Teques, Miranda State, Monsignor Pio Bello Ricardo, began and ended with an official approval. This was issued in a Pastoral Letter where he declared that the apparitions in Finca Betania were authentic and of a supernatural character. Therefore the site should be considered as sacred, and that it must be kept as a place for pilgrimage, prayer, reflection and worship. Where liturgical acts may take place according to the rules of the Roman Church.
Due to the influx of visitors and pilgrims from Venezuela and from other places of the world, the Sanctuary is open all year round from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Bishop has also designated seven Marian Feast days during which all night vigils are permitted: February 2, Our Lady of Candelaria; March 25, The Annunciation; May 13, Our Lady of Fatima; July 16, Our Lady of Mount Carmel; August 15, Our Lady's Assumption; October 12, Our Lady of the Pillar; and, December 8, The Immaculate Conception.
The Site's Description
Betania is an agricultural property located between the cities of Cua and San Casimiro in Miranda State, Venezuela, 40 miles due south of Caracas, Capital City. Its main access is by the highway from Caracas to Charallave City where there is an exit to Cua City. Once in Cua follow the main road toward the Village of San Casimiro. The entrance to Finca Betania is approximately 8 miles after Cua on the left hand side.
It is surrounded by small hills lush with tropical vegetation. At the entrance there is a parking lot for vehicles and busses. There is a footbridge over a river (River Tarma) that leads to the terrace and grotto, place where most of the apparitions take place. It is here where an open Shrine was erected and where Masses are celebrated on weekends and on most of the Church's Feast days.
How does Our Lady Appear?
According to the affidavits of the witnesses, Our Lady appears in a heavenly way, "She appears out of nowhere… She materializes…" resembling on many occasions Our Lady of Lourdes, but also resembling Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of the Pillar, Our Lady of Coromoto and many other well known titles.
She appears all of a sudden filled with light, most of the time accompanied by a strong, but delightful scent of roses, and other mystical phenomena, such as: Heavenly sounds of songs by "invisible choirs", spinning of the sun, etc.
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