There is no saint like her, and no central figure accorded so much veneration by Legio Maria faithful. St. Mary, Mama Maria or Maria Regina Owich are the names of the woman that is so much loved and so much adored that at times it is usually difficult to tell whether she is just venerated or worshipped. In truth, she is never worshipped by Legio Maria; she is only venerated and loved and exalted above all saints. And she is never confused with God, though some Legio Maria members sometimes fail to notice the difference between a saint and God, and go the extra mile to worship her. But that cannot be taken against them by the almighty God who searches all souls and judges people by their motives.
Who Is Mama Maria
The story of Mama Maria begins with narratives that often sound mythical, yet they contain mighty seeds of truth. She first features in the grand heavenly meeting of Torente (also called by Legio Maria faithful Confliutorente). Immediately before that meeting is called, Mama Maria is a resident of the heavenly city of Silita where she lives in a glorified state and receives honor from saints and the holy hosts of heaven for her unselfish role in the salvation of humanity. There, she is not called Mama Maria, but Blessed Virgin Mary, exalted forever among the saints. And honor is given to her every often through a prayer called Aksio (or Presidium), in which the holy hosts of heaven gather around the Blessed Virgin Mary’s throne to accord her due veneration for being the mother of Jesus Christ.
While at the heavenly City of Silita, the Blessed Virgin Mary learns of the impending return of the second person of the Holy Trinity to earth. She is excited by the news of Christ’s return on earth. But her excitement is not complete because the plan is that the lord is going back to the earthly city of Jerusalem again. She does not hate the return of Christ to the land Israel; in fact, she is happy for Israel. However, Virgin Mary feels that it is proper for Christ to visit another people; another race that lives in huge spiritual darkness and which has heard the least about the Gospel of salvation and glorification of humans. These people are the downtrodden Africans, the blacks of the earth. So Virgin Mary decides to visit the exalted throne of God, and to travel to the heavenly place called Armos, to request that when Christ returns to earth he should come as a black man. This way, Christ would serve to elevate the lowest race of humanity.
Her request was approved and the plan for the second coming of Christ was now designed with Virgin Mary in the thick of it. In fact, Mary was made the frontrunner of Christ when he comes again on earth. And with this approval and her inclusion in the divine plan, the hosts of heaven that honor her with praises sung with joy. But soon the divine plan had to come to pass and Virgin Mary had to leave heaven for earth in order to be the forerunner of the second Christ, Simeo Melkio. Therefore, Mama Maria is the Blessed Virgin Mary who became a member of the black race to participate not just in the second coming of Christ, but also in the elevation of the black race in the knowledge of God and in partaking in the divine plan of calling, saving and glorifying humanity.
The Blessed Virgin Mary Comes to Earth as Spirit
In the heavenly city of Silita, the Blessed Virgin Mary does not live as flesh and blood, but she lives as spirit. And when she came to earth ahead of Christ, Simeo Melkio, Virgin Mary came as a spiritual being. And when she landed on earth, she was spiritual. The spirit of Virgin Mary landed on water and from there she travelled to different lands of the world as spirit which could only be seen by people to whom God ordained that they should see her.
When speaking to Legio Maria faithful in 1964, Mama Maria said this about her coming: “When I came from heaven, I landed on water. Then I traveled across the nations of the world. I went to Egypt and Israel. I travelled to Europe and America. I was seen by many people whose eyes were opened to see me. But I was only a spirit that moved across the world and preparing the earth for the second coming of Christ.”
Indeed, by adopting Mama Maria’s teaching to the traditions and mythical stories of the Luo nation, Legio Maria members have come to believe that Mama Maria was the woman fished out of the waters of the lake by the legendary Mai, son of Ombare of Gwassi, in a Luo myth about how a poor fisherman became suddenly rich by the help of an old woman fished out of the lake. While this story is evidently mythical, it rhymes with the Legio truth that Virgin Mary landed on the sea and took up flesh. Another Luo myth that has been adopted by Legio Maria members as a way of explaining how Mama Maria was appearing and disappearing to people and preparing the world for the coming of the second Christ is the story of Simbi Nyaima, a mythical story of a woman who sunk a village in Karachuonyo, Homabay County, Nyanza Province, Kenya. This story is also a typical myth, but Legio Maria finds it relevant because it resonates with the journeys of Mama Maria when she came on earth.
Mama Maria at Cora Da Iria in Fatima Portugal
The apparition of Mary in Fatima Portugal occurred when the Blessed Virgin Mary had landed on earth as a spirit. On the field of Cora da Iria, she appeared to three little children, Lucia Santos, Jacinta and Francesca Mato in 1917. While the appearances drew a lot of attention because of the three secrets that Mary gave to Lucia, the third secret is of major significance to Legio Maria because it carries the message of the coming of Simeo Ondeto and his revelation in the 1960s. Lucia is evidently told by Mary that she should not reveal the third secret of Fatima until 1960 because it is during that time when its meaning shall be clearer. Though, there was also the option of revealing the secret at Lucia’s death.
Black Mary Walks across Luo Villages
The story of a wandering woman that walked across the Luo nation in the 1920s to 1930s is not mythical at all. There are people who are still alive today who actually saw the woman and saw her being ridiculed. One of the people who have testified about seeing the woman and who still live today is Romanus On’gombe. According to On’gombe, the black woman was a crazy wanderer who walked across villages and who could make repeated visits to homes where she was welcomed. On’gombe also attests that the woman actually visited their home in Suna many times and often sat under a big tree that was in their home. His father never used to chase the woman away and so she liked visiting them whenever she was in Suna.
When Virgin Mary was going about her walks across the Luo nation and was passing across the village market of Awendo, a certain dignified tailor called Omolo who was the son of a man called Nyunja of Alego, Udida Clan, decided to make for her a decent dress. Mary decided to stay with him until her dress was made. But she never left without blessing Omolo. In fact, she promised Omolo that his name shall never be forgotten among the Luos of Kenya. And therefore, whenever this woman went, she called herself mother of Omolo Nyunja of Alego. Indeed, this name stuck and even today the wandering woman is recognized among the Luo people by the name mother of Omolo Nyunja.
Mama Maria as the Forerunner of Simeo Ondeto
Just like John the Baptist who was the forerunner of Jesus Christ, Mama Maria did her role meticulously. She visited many places and appeared to many people. She did miracles and wonders. But in all these, she reminded the people that her son Jesus Christ had come on earth and was going to be revealed soon. And therefore, she appeared to countless people, including Petro Oswago, Juma Pesa, Otieno Masaga, a Bukoba woman and Maria Ragot, among others, telling them to announce to the world what she had sent them to announce: that her son Jesus Christ had come again and was to be revealed soon. Through a heavenly visit, Virgin Mary also managed to turn a drunkard called Vitalis Okelo into a preacher of the message of the coming son of God.
And when Legio Maria had taken root and Simeo was about to be revealed, Mama Maria teamed up with Simeo Melkio at the home of John Baru. In fact, Simeo had known that her mother was at Magacha and sent a team led by Abala Rafael and On’gombe Romanus to bring her to John Baru’s home. They met late in the evening, knelt down for a brief prayer, hugged and greeted, and took a few hours in Silvester Okweto’s house to catch up. That meeting came a few days before the coming of the Holy Spirit and the revelation of Simeo Melkio, and with the meeting, Legios learned that he was the spiritual mother of Simeo and the biblical mother of Jesus; the Virgin Mary herself.
Mama Maria Leads the Establishment of the New Movement
Before Mary could leave the new reign to the lord, she played her part. It was Mama Maria who led the establishment of the first Legio Maria church at Calvary Hill. When Legios were worried about not having priests of their own, it was Mama Maria who promised that Legio Maria would have its own clergy. And it was Mama Maria who led the ordination of the first Legio Maria clergy, with her appointment of Timothy Atila as the first Cardinal and then the first pope of Legio Maria. And during the persecutions of Legio Maria, it was also Mama Maria who encouraged Legios.
Mary’s teachings about Simeo Ondeto were clear. She called Ondeto her son. She called him the son of God, and often asked Legios to accord him the worship he deserves. In one of her teachings in 1964, she says:
“Let you not be fooled. This Ohulo (Simeo) you see amongst you is not like you. If you joke around with him thinking that he is a man like you, you will only be losing out on your chance to see life everlasting. In heaven, Ohulo (Simeo) seats in an exalted throne of God and he judges the living and the dead. There, he is not as playful as he is here on earth, and he does not tolerate sinners.”
In another teaching of hers in 1965, she said:
“Give honor to Ohulo everyday. Worship him often, and beg him for forgiveness of your sins. Let you not be fooled: Ohulo does not tolerate sins. And if you are fooled by his playfulness and his human nature, you will be lost. Make sure to give way when he comes. Never sit on a chair when he is seated on a chair. You may never see his glory with your human eyes, but all around him, he is glorious and high above all things.”
Mama Maria Returns to Heaven
On 18th of December 1966, the earthly sojourn of Mama Maria came close to its end. She looked sickly and meditating for most hours. And the same condition persisted from 18th to 23rd. On 23rd, she told Legio Maria members who were at Ephesus Nzoia that her time had come and her earthly pilgrimage had come to its end. Then she called Cardinal Carilus Mumbo and asked him to make sure that he informs Simeo Melkio to hurry to Ephesus. Simeo had gone to Gem to preach the word of the kingdom of God. But when Carilus Mumbo found him, he immediately asked Mumbo: “What brings you here? Is Mama Maria gone already?”
Mumbo responded to Simeo: “No. she is not gone. In fact, she is the one who has sent me to call you?” Mumbo and Simeo rushed to Ephesus Nzoia and when they arrived in the evening, Simeo and Mama Maria got into a conversation for more that half-an-hour. Then, a bright light of the spirit of Mary soon left the house where they were and dazed across the sky like lightning. People saw the light crack above the house, but they did not know that the spirit of Mama Maria was the one traveling back to the heavenly City of Silita where she lives forever. And when Simeo left the house knowing what had happened, he did not break the news to the crowd of Legios. Instead, he asked them all to pick their rosaries and begin praying. The lifeless body of Mama Maria was buried in Ephesus Nzoia Church. And that way, her earthly ministry as the one preparing the way of the second Christ came to an end.