During our perambulations on social media, we came across a papal critic that was sharing the video down below, stating it proved the controversial ceremony in the Vatican Gardens was a pagan ritual, since it invoked the goddess Nunkuli. Until yesterday, the claim was that it was Pachamama, but I suppose for them it’s all the same. Of course, if I said that the figure was of Aphrodite, just because Aphrodite was pagan and helped me further the narrative of the pagan ritual, anyone reasonable and with an understanding of Ancient Greece would say I was factually wrong. However, people who, one month ago, had probably never even heard the names of “Pachamama” and “Nunkuli” seem to be able to make these kinds of categorical affirmations.

In the meantime, the video is very interesting and merits to be seen in full. It was posted on Youtube by REPAM, one of the three organizers of the event hosted in the Vatican Gardens. It was also posted on the Advent of 2018. You can see the polemical statue on the 23 second mark.

The text is in Spanish. I made a translation, which I provide below. The original is in blue; the translation is in bold black; notes in italic black:

“Salve llena de gracia, el Señor es contigo”

Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you


“Soy la raíz de mis hijos, soy el canto de mis abuelas, el canto de la Nunkuli”

I am the root of my children, I am the song of my grandmothers, the song of (the) Nunkuli

Note: “song” can also be translated as “chant”


“Hija del Río, hermana del viento. Semilla, sustento”

Daughter of the River, sister of the wind. Seed, sustenance

Note: River is upper case: maybe refers to the Amazon River


“Soy vientre sagrado que siembra amor”

I am the sacred womb that sows love


“Canto de vida, soy territorio, canto de lucha”

Song of life, I am territory, song of struggle


“No temas María, porque has hallado gracia delante de Dios”

Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found grace before God


“y concebirás en tu seno y darás a luz un hijo a quien pondrás de nombre Jesús (Lucas 1, 26, 11)”

And you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, to whom you will give the name Jesus (Lk 1, 26, 11)


“Navidad en la Amazonia”

Christmas in the Amazon

This video from REPAM shows, once more, that they are referring to the Virgin Mary. This is consistent with the words of the native woman who presided over the ritual and with the clarification offered by one of the priests who organized it. As I said, the closer we get to the actual sources of the ceremony, the stronger the evidence is that this is Our Lady.

However, it is telling that the innumerous Marian references in this video are completely glossed over in favor of a short passing reference to Nunkuli, who most don’t even know or understand. It’s not even true that the video equates Mary with Nunkuli. Rather, it says that Mary is “the song of Nunkuli”. Is there a song of Nunkuli that can be said to be fulfilled in Mary? Is Nunkuli here being referenced as the goddess or as some symbolic reality signified by this name? I don’t know, and neither do they. But they will start from the uncharitable assumption that it is pagan because of this.

It’s ignoring the elephant in the room to get to the worm that scratches what their itchy ears want to hear. Most of the song is about Mary, something that they have denied from the get-go. But they will not concede that they were wrong. They will not admit that the natives view the image as Our Lady, even with the evidence staring them in the face. They will instead focus on a detail they can fashion into the next talking point. It’s all about spinning whatever they can get their hands on and then projecting that accusation unto the people who are seeing this for what it is.

In the meantime, I again reiterate: be careful with the conclusions you draw from cultural references you are not familiar with. Do not assume that there is something wrong with this without having compelling evidence to the contrary from unbiased sources that actually make reliable citations to support their case. If you don’t know Nunkuli, don’t assume you can form an informed opinion on it with a shallow Google search. You don’t have access to all the cultural nuances and meanings at play here. If you have to form your opinion, form it based on references that you are able to understand because they are shared with your culture as well. Like Mary, who is unequivocally present in the video above.

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Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

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