Our Lady of Betania, Venezuela
Finca Betania is a farm located twelve kilometers from the town of Cua, in the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Diocese of Los Teques, a district in the vicinity of the State of Miranda, on the border left of the road that joins that town of Valles del Tuy with San Casimiro in the State of Aragua. In this farm, near the old and modest farm house on the property, rises a hill from which descends a stream. At the foot of the hill there is a small cascade. In this luxuriant forest a tunnel in the vegetation opens its way, which ascends along the course of the stream. Here is where the apparitions have taken place.
The first apparition occurred on March 25, 1976. This apparition was seen only by one person; though others, approximately eighty, present that same day, saw something like a cloud coming out of the hill, luminous phenomena, and gyrations or movements of the sun. This same person saw the apparition again several times at the same site during 1976 and in the two years following. Besides her, very few people have declared to have seen the apparition during that period; although they have testified to having witnessed other phenomena as: mist coming forth from the hill, brilliant light, a profusion of flowers, singing of an invisible choir, a play of lights, and movements of the sun, etc.
After the first apparition and centered in Finca Betania, a movement of piety and religious formation developed. People in small groups gathered there, especially on weekends and on Marian feast days, to offer prayers and to reflect. The Bishop of the Diocese at that time, Monsignor Juan Jose Bernal, permitted some liturgical celebrations at the place. He himself administered the sacraments, especially in the favor of peasants of the neighboring small villages. During this period of time no formal ecclesiastical investigation was made regarding the happenings.
This situation, restricted to a relatively small number of participants, changed in the year 1984. On Sunday, March 25, 1984 a group of approximately one hundred and fifty people met in Finca Betania invited there for the celebration of a Mass at noon. After this liturgical act took place in the old sugar mill, those present dispersed throughout the property to take some refreshments and to rest.
Meanwhile some children were playing near the cascade. Suddenly, they saw the Blessed Virgin appearing over and behind it. It was a very brief apparition and afterward they ran to relay the news to the others who were about one hundred and fifty meters away. They all hastened to the site of the apparition. They were commenting on what had happened when the Virgin appeared again and all the people who were present were able to see her. During that same afternoon she appeared seven times, each time from five to ten minutes, except the last at dusk, when she appeared for approximately half an hour.
Naturally, the news of these events was spread among relatives and friends of those present. This produced a flood of visitors to the place, especially on weekends. The apparitions continued taking place with noticeable chronology, although generally on Saturdays, Sundays and on days of Marian celebrations. They were especially numerous during the years 1984 and 1985, and more spread out during 1986 and 1987.
In other apparitions of the Blessed Virgin her figure could be easily identified for she always presented herself in the same way, same features, same dress; which gave rise afterwards to her representation by means of images and paintings. In the present case, Our Lady has presented herself in different ways, therefore the descriptions vary but are always related to the known Marian titles; she is most commonly seen as “Our Lady of Lourdes” (because she is seen with a white dress and a blue sash, some say that her arms are extended as a sign of welcome or greeting, and with a veil through which you can see her hair), or as “The Miraculous Virgin” (probably for the position of her arms and the rays of light coming out from her hands).
Though these descriptions are the most common, there are other descriptions of the way she has presented herself corresponding to the various Marian titles. People have interpreted this circumstance as a teaching of the Blessed Virgin, as if she wanted to point out that even though she has different titles for her different apparitions, she is only one. Since her first apparition she presented herself as RECONCILER OF NATIONS and this is the title or name by which she is known and venerated in the place.
Very few people have declared they have had any kind of verbal communication with the Blessed Virgin or have received any kind of teachings, messages or counsel from her. Generally in the interrogations or declarations people have only declared to have seen her. With regard to the communications that have been received during the apparitions, the Blessed Virgin refers to: RENEWAL OF FAITH, as especially urgent in a world where so many deny God and cast off, or practically do away with God and with what is supernatural in their lives.
DEEPENING IN FAITH through the reading of the Word of God in Sacred Scripture and its reflection.
CONVERSION from sin to a full Christian life.
APOSTOLIC COMMITMENT, as a consequence of living a renewed and profound faith.
CALL TO PRAYER, as a communication with God, specifically for the Church, priests, vocations, the conversion of sinners, peace in the world and for the imminent dangers that threaten humanity.
FREQUENT RECEPTION OF THE SACRAMENTS, especially the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
SOLIDARITY, as a call to charity, especially with those most in need, the poor, the abandoned, the sick; insisting on brotherly tolerance and the sense of each one sharing what they have with the rest.
NUMBER OF VISIONARIES:
In other cases the apparitions have been seen by very few privileged people. In this case the number of witnesses since the 25th of March of 1984 is very numerous. That specific day more than one hundred people saw the seven apparitions: at least, one hundred and eight testified so that same day with their signatures. From that day on the witnesses multiplied. It has been common that in a group of people, only some can see the apparition. March 25, in 1984 was an exception to this. It has also been common that those who on some occasion may have seen the apparition, on other occasions have not had that privilege.
Source: Portion of a Pastoral by the local Ordinary of Betania. http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/resources/BetaniaBishopPastoral.pdf