Maria Lionza, a 16th century Indian girl is now a goddess to one-third to one-half of the people of Venezuela. Little known in the west, this book examines her life and the native traditions that have embraced her as well as the political clout that she has in the 21st century. This fascinating religion is a mixture of Native traditions, Santeria and Catholicism.
Lulu Press, Inc.
María Lionza is at once a native girl, born in the 16th century to an Indian chief in the Venezuelan region of Yaracuy, and a goddess of nature, peace and harmony to over eight million Venezuelans in the 21st century. Her name means “Mary of the boar,” taken from her full name “Santa María de la Onza Talavera del Prato de Nivar”—a title given by the Catholic Church in the attempt to Christianize her cult. This book is María’s story, as much as can be told. Other than a few scholarly articles, the existence of María Lionza and her following is unknown in Western literature. Gabriel Ernesto Andrade of La Universidad del Zulia in Maracaibo, Venezuela wrote “If I would have to find one word to describe the María Lionza religion, it would be ‘mysterious’.” And so María, as well as her origins and how she became regarded as the goddess of the people of Venezuela, remains a mystery in many ways. And that is as it should be.