Legio Maria was founded on 9th March 1962 at the home of John Baru in Suna Migori. Before that day, Simeo Ondeto had gone through a huge transformation from a Roman Catholic auxiliary catechist to a highly treasured prophet, but he had never been recognized as God by the huge multitudes that visited him to listen to his grabbing preaching about the Kingdom of God. And while he had previously said he was the son of God sent from heaven by his father to give glory to the faithful of God, the message did not win the hearts of men. And they still called him the risen prophet.
Legio Maria Pentecost of March 9th 1962
On Friday evening, March 9, 1962, when around 1,150 members of the Legion of Mary who followed Simeo Ondeto were in the home of John Baru, they at once heard the sound of a mighty choir singing familiar songs from the nearby Kachola Hill towards John Baru’s home. Startled and puzzled by what they were hearing, they rushed and gathered outside to see what was happening. And as they were standing at the center of the home trying to guess what was happening, they noticed that the mighty chorus consisted of a multitude of voices and was moving nearer and nearer.
The mighty choir of heavenly Glory landed at the home of John Baru by 6:00 p.m. and immediately caused a rapturous experience that had never occurred in the world before. All the 1150 people were caught up in spirit, got ecstatic and started to see the vision of the glory of God in their midst. They spoke in tongues and saw things that ordinary human eyes can never see. And surprisingly, all of them were having the same experience as if their minds were all joined at once into one huge super-computer, making their visions public and their experiences concurrent.
What did they see? The Legion of Mary faithful saw:
a. Angels and saints descend from the clouds of heaven and join them in John Baru’s home.
b. Simeo Ondeto seated in the throne of heaven as the son of God and King of Kings, judging the living and the dead.
c. Angels and saints falling down on their stomachs before the glorious seat of Simeo Ondeto and worshipping him.
d. A brilliant and magnificent light of the Glory of God surrounded the area where Simeo Ondeto was seated, burning brightly like the pillar of fire that led the people of Israel.
Results of Legio Maria Pentecost
Legion Maria Pentecostal day had great spiritual ramifications for these members of the Legion of Mary lay movement. They had shared an experience like no other and learned the unshakable truth that Simeo Ondeto is God. They had communed with the angels and saints of heaven and tasted the sweet inheritance of eternal life that awaited them. They had seen Christ, the son of God in their own likeness, seated in the throne of heaven and passing judgment on the living and the dead. Theirs was an experience worth absolute faith. And they would never mix this sweet experience with the dirt of unbelief. So, from that day of 9th March 1962, Simeo Ondeto was elevated in their midst. He was no longer going to be called prophet, but was now going to be their Lord and God.
Declaration of the Holy Spirit during the Legio Maria Pentecostal Day
The shift from knowing Simeo Ondeto as prophet and teacher to Christ and God was not only based on the rapture and concurrent spiritual experience of his followers. The Holy Spirit himself had declared Simeo Melkio Hosea Enure Santa Maria Laurida Lodvikus Messias as the Son of God and the glory of God who is the fulfillment of God’s promise of the second coming of his son. The declaration was made at around 8:30 pm when the spirit had indwelled Siprianus Ochieng and was speaking directly to the gathered members of the movement.
The Holy Spirit asked Simeo to declare who he was to the gathering. And at first, Simeo introduced himself as Simeo Ondeto, Son of Joseph Owiti Obimbo of Angoro Awasi, Watombori clan. When he had done so, the Holy Spirit threw the entire gathering into ecstasy and tongues with huge shouts of “No! No!” It was after this that the Spirit again called Simeo to tell the children of God the truth and Simeo said he was the Messiah (Christ) sent by God from heaven. Then the Spirit went on to teach and reveal to the gathering that God had sent his son on earth as was promised in the New Testament and that Simeo Ondeto is the fulfillment of that promise. He is the second Christ, the glory of God.
Truth Worthy of Unshakeable Faith
Legion Maria belief that Simeo Ondeto is God is not based on the private experience of an individual prophet. It is not based on intelligent interpretation of scriptures and in the persuasive oratory skills of great teachers and orators. It is based on something bigger, something larger than individual dreams and visions of prophets. It is based on the unanimous, concurrent and simultaneous public experience of over 1000 people who were gathered at John Baru’s home on 9th March 1962. It is based on what they saw and heard. It is based on their communion with angels and saints from heaven. It is based on the truth of the four songs they heard together, the rapture they experienced together and the ecstasy and spiritual indwelling they had together.
When Legio Maria says we have God, we refer to that glorious day. We rethink of how God revealed himself to our own at once and made a declaration to them. We know that one man can lie, and two can collude to say untrue things. But we know that over 1,000 people who saw the lord seated in the throne of God and passing judgment over the living and the dead could have not all at once lied. And we know that the Holy Spirit that spoke through them in tongues, and who opened their eyes to see angels and saints descend from the clouds of heaven and worship Simeo Ondeto is true. So we firmly believe and declare as a faithful people to whom the Glory of God was revealed, that ours is not accidental timid faith based on misrepresentation of scripture; but it is a living unshakable faith based on the Pentecostal Day of 9th March 1962, at the home of John Baru.
Simeo Ondeto Declares Himself as Christ
Teaching Legio Maria faithful at Raha soon after the Pentecost, Simeo Ondeto declared himself the second Christ. Speaking to Legios, he said:
“My children, I have come again. Truly I have come. I have come as one of you. As one of your brothers with whom you eat from the same plate. But why don’t you discover this truth? Your eyes are blocked by thick cobwebs.”
In this sermon, Simeo Ondeto was declaring that he is the Christ, Messiah, Son of God. He is the second coming of Christ.
Worshipped as God
Simeo Ondeto is worshipped by Legio Maria as God. Right from 1962, Legios fell down and kneeled before him in worship. Prayers are directed to him for answers and he blessed Legios not as their leader but as their God. Chairs were removed from church and only one seat was left on which Simeo sat and blessed Legios. And whenever Legios enter church compounds or into the presence of their lord and God, they remove their shoes as Moses of old was asked to do when he was in the presence of his God.
Simeo Ondeto and Jesus Christ
Legio Maria started as an offshoot of Catholic Church and ended up with a God. Simeo Ondeto, however, did not advance a new claim about God, but instead stated he was the Son of God. Inevitably, Simeo Ondeto stated he had the same status as Jesus of Nazareth. And because God has only one begotten son and Simeo Ondeto is that son, he and Jesus is one person revealed differently in the form of flesh.
Secondly, in Lejo Maria, the role of Mary mother of Jesus replays. Legio Maria reveres a black African woman by the name Mary. Mary’s body was buried in Ephesus Church in December 1966. She is the woman who is sometimes confused with Gaudencia Aoko as Legio Maria co-founder. Mary, indeed, was an old woman of around 90 years of age by 1962. She could not go everywhere to preach Legio Maria message and left the task to the younger people such as Aoko Gaudencia. But when it came to the core tasks such as ordination of Legio Maria priests, she played the most critical role. By having the same status as Jesus and having the same spiritual mother called Mary, Simeo Ondeto placed himself in the same position as Jesus of Nazareth.
Legio Maria Theology of God
Legio Maria faithful believe in God who is the father of Simeo Ondeto; God who sent Simeo to them. That God is one and is the creator of everything that is and that is not. He is the energy from which everything comes and returns. And He is three persons in one: The first person, the second person, and the third person. Just like the Christian theology of the trinity, the Legio Maria version of the Trinity is similar.
According to Lejo Maria, Simeo Ondeto is the pre-existent Son of God. He is God even before he is revealed to humans. And when he is revealed, He works with humans to ensure that they too are lifted into sonship and become the sons of God. When he takes flesh, his divinity is never corrupted by his humanity. And so, Simeo Ondeto was both fully human and fully God. He took up flesh to complete God’s mission. After which, he returned to the heavenly Kingdom where he sits as fully divine being.
Simeo Ondeto: The Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient
All the attributes of God that humankind is aware of are used by Legio Marias in reference to Simeo Ondeto. He is called the omnipotent (janyalo, n’gat man kod nyalo), the Lord (Ruoth), Teacher (Japuonj), the African Lord (Ruodh Jorotenge), Black God (Nyasach jorotenge), Omniscient, and omnipresent. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Simeo Ondeto multi-locates (be in different places at the same time). When people visited him, they would always find that he had known them by name, family, and clan or village before they introduced themselves.
The Seven Names of Simeo Ondeto
Simeo Ondeto has seven names which the Holy Spirit revealed at Raha and at Johannes Baru’s home in Suna Migori. The names are Melkio, Hosea, Enure, Lodvikus, Santa Maria, Laurida, and Messias. Of all the seven names or titles, the most important to Legio Marias is Lodvikus. Lodvikus means vicar of the lord or what is interpreted as one like the lord. Therefore, to Lejo Maria faithful, Simeo Ondeto is the Glory of God.
Eternal Spiritual Leader
Simeo Ondeto is the eternal spiritual leader of Lejo Maria. That is the principal title that appears on Legio Maria banners. What does it mean? To Legion Maria, eternal spiritual leadership refers to Ondeto’s sonship of God and his eternal mediatorship. He mediates forever for all Legios and brings them to the glory of God. He lifts us to the high and heavenly heights of glory. He gives us life because he has life abundantly.”
“Our God, Simeo Melkio. Give us a living faith and bring us to your eternal glory. Just as we communed with angels and saints of heaven when you were revealed at John Baru’s home, bring us to eternal communion with the holy ones of God and into your eternal kingdom. Amen.”