Kenya’s Legio Maria sprouts believers in the shadow of the Catholic Church

Light of truth

The Legio Maria Mass at Ephesus Church on an August Sunday morning featured Prophet Moses Otieno singing hymns and reciting the rosary before an altar adorned with pictures of Jesus, Mary and church founder Simeo-Ondeto and his mother, Maria.

Then Otieno began to speak in tongues and cast out demons as congregants wailed, spun and fell to the floor.

“I can see in the spirit women here are barren,” Otieno declared. “Rush to the altar and get a miracle. Today you are going to receive babies. I have been sent by the Messiah through visions to deliver barren women today.”

The Legio Maria movement (Latin for “Legion of Mary”) sprouted in western Kenya in the 1960s after Ondeto, his mother and other members were excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church for practicing exorcism.

Ondeto, who died in 1992, is now believed to be the Messiah. Specifically, Legio Maria adhe-rents believe Jesus and Ondeto are the same person who has appeared in different ages bearing a different skin colour.

The group is often mistaken as being Catholic because it celebrates the main elements of the traditional Latin Mass. It has nuns and its own Pope, Romanus Ong’ombe, who lives at church headquarters in Got Kwer, located in Migori County, in south-western Kenya.

Reports of miracles have attracted local Catholics. An estimated 90,000 nominal members left the Catholic Church to become the first cohort of believers.

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