Picture: Pope Paul II on Palm Sunday, 2001.
During the Garabandal apparitions, there were some remarkable revelations made concerning the papacy. This article is updated from its original publication in 1999 (GARABANDAL MAGAZINE January-March 1999).
When the Garabandal events began in June of 1961, John XXIII was Pope. We are not aware of his having said anything regarding Garabandal. At that time, Pope John was very much involved in preparations for the new Council, Vatican II. This was his great undertaking which he believed would rejuvenate the Church. He never lost this conviction and in his final illness prayed, "May it be God's will that the Council Fathers be able still to crown the great work they have begun. I offer up all my sufferings ut unum sint [that they may be one], that all may be a sole entity in Christ." The Council Fathers did continue their work although the aftermath of the Council hardly lived up to Pope John's expectations. He never lived to see it and died on June 3, 1963, just eight months after presiding at the solemn opening on October 11, 1962.
When the bells tolled in the village church of Garabandal on the day Pope John died, Conchita said to her mother, Aniceta, "The Pope is dead. Now there will be only three more." Aniceta reproved her, "How do you know that? Why do you say such silly things?" Conchita answered, "The Virgin told it to me." When asked by another person what it meant, if it meant the end of the world, she replied, "I don't know what will happen, only that three Popes remain."
The Three Popes
This prophecy of the three Popes has always been a subject of great interest because of its enormous implications. According to Conchita, the Virgin told her that after the third Pope then will come the end of time but not the end of the world, a statement which Conchita herself does not understand. There is a maxim of mystical theologians that applies here: no prophecy is fully understood until after it happens.
But for us today, living now in a new millennium, what seems clear is that we are approaching the stage of human history mentioned in this prophecy. A brief review of the three Popes after John XXIII will bring us up to date.
Paul VI is the first. He was elected on June 21, 1963, and brought the Council started by Pope John to its completion in October of 1966. Subsequently he reigned during one of the most turbulent periods in the Church's 2,000 year history as unprecedented changes swept over the Church in the wake of the Council, changes often made in the name of the Council but not according to the dictates of the Council Fathers as expressed in the official documents. Pope Paul is the first Pope who was in some way connected to Garabandal.
In January of 1966, Conchita was called to Rome by Prefect of the Holy Office (now the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani and was interrogated for two and a half hours by the Cardinal and other members of the Holy Office. Although Conchita was experiencing doubts and lapses of memory at the time, which the Virgin had predicted, Conchita later said that during the interrogation everything about the apparitions passed before her eyes as though "on film." Cardinal Ottaviani was satisfied and the overall impression made by Conchita was favorable. Afterwards, she asked to see the Pope. Here is Father Joseph Pelletier's account of that memorable meeting.
She was given an appointment that was later cancelled. Arrangements were made for Conchita to meet a personal representative of the Pope, someone of considerable rank. He told her that the Pope gave her his blessing and with it that of all the Church. Quite unexpectedly, on the following day, the Holy Father himself actually received Conchita and repeated verbally what he had said to her the preceding day through his personal representative. These are incontrovertible facts which the author is in a position to substantiate if need be. What has been affirmed repeatedly and challenged just as often is true: the Pope did say, "bless you and with me the whole Church blesses you." [Our Lady Comes to Garabandal, p. 201]
Conchita's meeting with the Holy Father was a private audience, in the strictest sense of the word, where only a few people are present, as opposed to a semi-private one where several persons can be in attendance. Conchita was not permitted to divulge what was said during the meeting and has always honored this injunction even until today. She did reveal, however, that while in Rome, she told the date of the Miracle to both Cardinal Ottaviani and the Pope's personal secretary (no doubt intended for the Pope).
On August 6, 1978, Feast of the Transfiguration, Pope Paul VI died at Castelgandalfo, the papal summer residence. He was 80 years old.
The conclave that followed elected as his successor Cardinal Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice, who chose the name John Paul I in deference to his two predecessors. He was to reign for just 33 days and died on September 28, 1978. There is no record we know of where this Pope said anything about Garabandal, but he was apparently referred to by Our Lady during the events. Santander businessman, Placido Ruiloba, a witness to more than a thousand ecstasies, has testified to having heard Conchita say that of the three Popes that would remain after John XXIII, one would have a very short reign — muy poquisimo.
On October 16, 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, was elected to succeed Pope John Paul I. He was the first non-Italian in some 400 years and took the name John Paul II in deference to his three predecessors.
What can't we say about this Pope who according to Garabandal is the last of the three remaining Popes? His reign now in its twenty-fourth year, is one of the most remarkable in the 2,000 year history of the papacy. During his tenure John Paul has logged over 800,000 miles visiting 119 countries in 95 trips outside Italy, issued 13 papal encyclicals, presided at 15 synods of bishops, canonized 456 saints, beatified 1, 282 people, published the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and new codes of Canon Law for the Latin Rite (1983) and Eastern Rite Churches (1990). This is only a partial listing of what has been accomplished under the leadership of this Pope.
Today, John Paul is clearly not the vigorous outdoorsman he was when chosen 263rd successor of St. Peter in 1978 at the youthful age (for a pope) of 58. The gunshot wounds he received from attempted assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca in 1981, subsequent operations for other physical problems as well as the discernible symptoms of Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis have made him feeble. But according to Vatican press secretary, Dr. Navarro-Valls, "Certain physical limits are evident, and the Pope doesn't try to hide them. They don't worry him and, thank God, up to this point, they don't interfere with his work."
While the Pontiff is unsound physically, his mind is still sharp, and he is determined to continue leading the Church. But has John Paul II ever said anything about Garabandal?
After the publication of his book Garabandal—Der Zeigefinger Gottes (Garabandal — The Finger of God) in 1993, German businessman Albrecht Weber sent a copy to the Vatican with some other documents. The book came into the hands of the Holy Father, who asked his secretary Msgr. (now Archbishop) Stanislaus Dziwisz to write to the author. In a second printing of the book in 2000, on page 19, is an excerpt from this letter. The following translation was done by the Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Garabandal Association, London, England, and appeared in a special supplement to their newsletter dated June 2000:
May God reward you for everything, especially for the deep love with which you are making the events connected with Garabandal more widely known. May the Message of the Mother of God find an entrance into hearts before it is too late. As an expression of joy and gratitude, the Holy Father gives you his apostolic blessing.
— (signed) Msgr. Stanislaus Dziwisz
Accompanying this letter was a greeting by the Pope in his own handwriting. In this regard, the author states, "It is clear how deep an interest he has in the events of Garabandal, and how anxious he is that they should be made known in a credible way."
Picture: Pope John Paul II on Palm Sunday, 2001. On the right (in purple) is his faithful secretary, Archbishop Stanislaus Dziwisz, who wrote the letter to Albrecht Weber (inset).
I can personally attest to the truth of these two documents because in 1994, while visiting Albrecht Weber at his home on Lake Constance in southern Germany, I was shown the letter signed by Msgr. Dziwisz which was typewritten in German on Papal stationary, as well as the Pope's short message. Two people from Holland, Maryann Windmeijer and Wim Langfeld, who have also been to Mr. Weber's home also testify to having seen both documents.
Albrecht keeps them in a leather case and guards them jealously, not even allowing photocopies to be made.
One More Revelation
There is one other revelation made at Garabandal about the papacy. Our Lady told Conchita that the Pope "will see the Miracle from wherever he is." Since John Paul II is the third Pope, he automatically becomes the one to whom this prophecy refers. And while we don't know the date of the Miracle—Conchita, who does know, will reveal it eight days in advance—what we do know is that it will occur within John Paul's lifetime. Taking into consideration his age and state of health, it would seem that it is not far off. May we prepare ourselves for this long-awaited supernatural event and the Aviso (Warning) that will precede it by living the Message.
By Barry Hanratty, Reprinted with permission from Garabandal Journal, July-August 2002