María Lionza is a folk saint and the central figure in one of the most widespread new religious movement in Venezuela. The cult of María Lionza is a blend of African, indigenous and Catholic beliefs. She is revered as a goddess of nature, love, peace and harmony. She has followers throughout Venezuelan society, from small rural villages to Caracas, where a monumental statue stands in her honor. The Cerro María Lionza Natural Monument (also known as Sorte mountain) where an important pilgrimage takes place every October, was named after her.
According to the main legend, María Lionza was born in the 15th–16th century as the daughter of an indigenous chief from the region of Yaracuy. Her father sent her to live in the Sorte mountain. One day, while she was by the river, an anaconda attacked and devoured her. From within the serpent, María Lionza begged the mountain for help. The mountain agreed, María Lionza thus disintegrated and merged with Sorte mountain.