People of Interest - Mariana La Loca

"Crazy Mariana" moved to this area with her parents sometime around the year 1853 at the age of twenty two. Her real name was probably Mariana Andrada. She soon took a job as a dance-hall girl to entertain miners in the small community of New Idria. From all accounts of the story, Mariana was quiet pretty and probably made good money serving her customers. To enhance her attractiveness with dance-house customers, Mariana began telling the story that she was the widow of the famous bandit Joaquín Murrieta. Of course, that story is very unlikely since she arrived into the area the same year Joaquín was supposedly killed ... or if he wasn't killed that was the year he vamoosed to Mexico.

Mariana lived in Central California for the rest of her life. Somewhere around the age of forty she became a "housekeeper" for one or more of the sheep herders who grazed their animals on the plains and foothills in the general area of Avenal, Coalinga, and the Kettleman Hills of today.

Some time prior to 1880, Mariana moved to an adobe building located near Martinez Spring just below Las Tres Piedras. From here, she probably left her adobe home whenever her housekeeping duties permitted to climb to the summit of the ridge and search for the gold allegedly buried by the Murrieta gang. Regardless of her original purpose in coming to this area, it appears that the solitude, the wild aspect of this mountain, and the fantastic shapes of the wind-worn rocks began to prey upon her imagination. Mariana soon got the idea for the large-scale religious revival based on the notion that the world would soon come to an end. She convince as many as four hundred people form surrounding communities that only the followers who joined her would be saved.

Mariana convinced her followers that the deceased Father Magin was now living within the "hollow" rock that we call La Catedral Grande and that he had shown her the temple door which is guarded by Saint Peter. She also convince her followers that the surrounding rocks were in fact godly buildings; they only looked like rocks because God was concealing the truth from them and that God had not yet opened their eyes. She assured them that God would reveal everything to them in good time and that at an appointed time God would open the Temple Door to La Catedral Grande and allow all of the faithful to enter and be save from the coming destruction.

Mariana la Loca

Copyright ©, 2005; Updated May 23, 2016