By Peter Amunga
LEGIO MARIA is not an Ordinary Religion. Its one of the Largest Religious Organisation in Africa that drifted from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1950s and has an estimated 3.5-4 Million Members. The movement was formed as a result of displeasure by some members of the Legion of Mary within the Catholic Church who saw the priests as dictatorial figures and believed they needed no priest to preach their gospel nor perform their Christian duties.
The Founders Gaudencia Aoko(nicknamed Mama Maria among its faithfuls) and Simeo Ondetto (Famously known as “Baba Simeo Lodvikus Simeo Melkio Ondetto”) who were excommunicated from the Catholic Church invoked the authority given to them by ‘God’ through personal visions to heal, preach, pray for the sick, baptize for free those who didn’t have baptism funds and embraced those who failed to pass Catholic Church catechist exams which made their movement famous among the residents and more members came in. The movement was then established on the need to control the spirit world through possession, Exorcism, healing and use of mediums. Sadly, Gaudencia Aoko died in 1966 and was buried at the banks of Nzoia River(Efeso church), Siaya County, the 2nd highly coveted and sacred ground of the religion.
Baba Melkio Ondetto died in 1991 and According to their Pope Romanus Ong’ombe “Simeo Melkio Ondetto is ‘God’. ‘God’ never dies, he lives.” What happened is that God(Melkio) was incarnated and took up a body like ours. When he returned to heaven, he gave up his body and remained ‘God’. He becsme spirit as he was before he became a body and indeed, Legio Maria members attest to post-death appearances of Simeo Ondeto. They assert that Simeo Ondeto appeared at Got Kweru to many people before his burial. That Simeo Ondeto appeared to a doctor who was called to preserve his body and the physician ran away after seeing Ondeto alive, that Simeo Ondeto spoke through the spirit even when his flesh was yet to be buried, that on the day of his burial, Simeo Ondeto appeared to a group of Legio Maria prophets called ‘The Michaels’ and asked them to go pray for the sick instead of mourning and that Simeo Ondeto appeared to Dalmas Oyier, his closest friend several weeks after he was buried. Legio Maria faithful also attest that Simeo Ondeto appeared and taught them sermons during two of his memeriols, The memorial of 1992 witnessed by over 30,000 Legio Maria faithfuls and in his memorial of 2012 witnessed by over 100,000 Legio Maria believers.
Currently the Church has Members across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo, Zaire, Sudan, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Nigeria with its Headquarters in Mt. Calvary (Got Kweru) in Migori, Kenya. Church Members across the Countries are Congregating at Got Kweru to mark the anniversary of Baba Simeo Melkio Ondetto who was buried at the same Got Kweru in 1991 where the Church HQs are, After his Death, the Church was divided into two factions, each eying for the Papal position One led by Rafael Adika and the other led by Pope Romanus Ong’ombe. The two leaders with their factions showed up at Got Kweru yesterday which broke the fierce battle witnessed among the faithfuls before police intervention.
The intervention by the police however was seen as an insult to heavens and ‘god’ Melkio Ondetto as they stormed the Sacred ground wearing shoes and No one including the pope himself is allowed to enter Got Kweru grounds with shoe or anything on their legs, its blasphemous to do so. Secondly, no one is allowed to enter the Sacred grounds with arms, the police crossed this line and lastly the sacred grounds are entered only by those who have dressed in Kanzu, another line the police crossed. This gross violation made the two factions unite to bring heavens down and counter the enemy with rain of holy stones.
The police overpowered them and this made the two popes to dispatch their Joka Mikael to secure the holy grounds with immediate effect. Joka Mikael(Warriors of Angel Michael) are Legio Maria’s No Nonsense Recce unit composed of both male and females. This is the unit that is in charge of the Movement’s discipline and that throws babies 1km in the air and make them disappear. They are also the prophets of the church and are feared by witches, night runners and sorcerers. A night runner can never dare pass by their gates or doors. It took the unit 2 minutes to make policemen armed to the tooth to scamper and flee for their dear lives. The ground was secured, though 5 lives are claimed to have been lost and 2 seriously injured including the police. Today they stormed the police Station to secure the freedom of their arrested members and they walked out with them.