Sputnik spoke to 83-year-old Rafaela about her incredible rendez-vous with death.
Rafaela "died" for the first time at age 11. Her mother spotted her lying motionless, with no traces of life. In the nearest hospital she was diagnosed to be dead and the family started preparing for a funeral. Rafaela claimed she was conscious, though, and could hear and see.
"I was delighted to see my granddads and grandmoms, but I felt sad as they were going to bury me alive. However loud my shouts were, nobody heard me," Rafaela recollected.
She woke up merely seconds before she was due to be buried.
In 1968, when she was 33 years old, Rafaela Baroni “passed away” for the second time.
"I was taken to hospital, where I lay in coma for 19 days before being finally diagnosed as dead <…> We headed for the cemetery, and when they were about to lay me to rest, somebody suddenly remembered that the documents had been left in Boconó [a city in the Venezuelan Andean state of Trujillo]. And they couldn’t bury me without them. So, I was taken to the morgue and they accidently noticed my body making moves. I remember somebody shouting out: 'Noooo, senhora hasn’t died!'"
After Rafaela literally arrived from the other world, she was diagnosed with narcolepsy, a neurological disorder which can result in the sudden loss of all muscle tone, known as cataplexy, as well as sleep paralysis. While in a state of sleep paralysis, a narcolepsy sufferer's mind is awake but his or her body remains paralyzed and unresponsive. While most narcolepsy sufferers may only encounter brief bouts of sleep paralysis after waking up or after a cataplexy attack, in rare instances it can last a long time.
The Venezuelan woman is widely known all throughout the South American country not only due to the miraculous encounters with death, but thanks to her multiple works of art, inspired by religious subjects and her revival, as well as her ability to cure people and tell their fortunes.
Baroni notably met Hugo Chavez on more than one occasion, before and after he was elected Venezuela's President.
"I met him in Barinas [city in west central Venezuela], when he was a little boy and sold cocadu (a coconut drink popular in Venezuela). He was very modest and easy-going."