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Maria Lionza

Maria Lionza. A complex of informally organized spirit-possession cults in Venezuela. Beginning among rural Indians of Yaracuy in the 18th cent., it has expanded in this cent. across Venezuela, especially among the urban poor of all racial origins, and by adding African spirits from immigrant Cubans and Trinidadians, it has come to resemble Shango, etc. Maria Lionza was a legendary Indian princess in the Sorte mountains of Yaracuy, who is now often assimilated to the Virgin [Mary] of Coromoto, patroness of Venezuela, honoured with Roman Catholic rites and besought by practising Roman Catholics. There is a pilgrimage centre in the Sorte mountains and the movement is still developing many new forms.

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