After a woman claimed that she received a revelation from the Virgin Mary that the world was about to end, over 20 people, including five children, have been declared missing in Venezuela.
According to La Nacion newspaper, the 57-year-old Rosa García is said to have initially convinced the majority of 40 people in the Táchira town of La Grita to join on her trip to Juan Pablo Peñaloza National Park on August 22.
García reportedly told the group that they would be organizing a spiritual encounter with God or the Virgin Mary at an unidentified location in the park that is located along the border of the western states of Táchira and Mérida.
They were reported missing later that day after they failed to show up at their homes since they were expected to return on Thursday, September 1.
In accordance with the La Nacion report, some of the people dropped out of the group when García started behaving eccentrically.
García told the group to get rid of their mobile phones before going for the spiritual retreat.
Authorities said 9 out of the missing individuals are from the same family and that the group is journeying in two vehicles.
160 members from a search and rescue team and law enforcement agencies were seriously looking for the group. Drones and sniffer dogs were also dispatched as part of a wider search. La Grita Mayor Juan Carlos Escalante said.
Authorities found an abandoned farm where some of the people who are still unidentified got rid of several clothing items and left food behind on Monday.
Residents unveiled that García dropped out of a neighborhood prayer group and set up her own, called ‘Following Jesus.’ The group would regularly gather to hold prayer sessions for people fighting illnesses.
Others testified that García’s group ‘switched from religious practices to fanaticism’ and noticed that group members promote their religious idea and ‘spent their time beating their chests.
Some said that García’s family thought she was mentally deranged.
A resident told La Nacion
‘She sent people to confession, to go to mass, and to pray. ‘She said that many bad things were coming, that Christ cried tears of blood for what we all do. That the world was going to end.’
Since March, none of the group’s members have been permitted to watch television and are required to begin their daily prayers at three in the morning, according to the online news source Impacto Venezuela. In addition, it was advised that women refrain from doing their hair and cover their faces when they left the house.
Father Jesús Mora advised the congregation during a mass held Sunday at the La Grita Minor Basilica of the Holy Spirit to be careful of people like García who could do more harm than good.
‘ Mora said.
‘You have to be afraid of fanatics because a fanatic can do a lot of damage. ‘God doesn’t want us to be fanatics.‘
Do you find Six9ja useful? Click here to give us five stars rating!