As the feast of Corpus Christi approached in 1962, Garabandal experienced one of the most "striking moments" in the course of the events. This feast honoring the Eucharist is celebrated in Spain with greater external solemnity that any other. The feast was soon to suffer a great eclipse in the days after the Council as a result of certain doctrinal derangements, as a result of a heated fight of many against "triumphalism" in the Church, as a result of the zeal in many of teh clergy to "desacralize," as a result of ... etc. But in Garabandal, in the year 1962, it was celebrated as never before.
Three days previously something occurred that seems not to have been sufficiently noted: the active reappearance of St. Michael the Archangel. We can speak of reappearance, not because he had disappeared completely, but because his presence had been reduced for some time to interventions of a lesser degree: from time to time making up for the absence of a priest in giving Holy Communion to the girls, and accompanying the Virgin from time to time as a silent witness. Now on the contrary, on the evening of the feast of Corpus Christi, he returns to play a role almost as he did in the beginning.
In that year Corpus Christi fell on June 21, a Thursday. On the preceding Monday, June 18, Father Valentin wrote: "In the evening Mari Cruz went to the cuadro and fell into ecstasy and afterwards went through the village. A little later, Jacinta and Mari Loli went outside. They also went to the cuadro and fell into ecstasy. They said they saw the Angel." Did Father Valentin notice the newness of this? St. Michael comes alone again, and acts alone. Did Father Valentin notice what date it was? June 18! Exactly one year since the Archangel and the girls had met for the first time in the same place. How many things had happened in the meantime! And many more were still to happen. On the following day, Tuesday the nineteenth, he wrote:
At 10:30 (at night) Jacinta, Mari Loli and Mari Cruz were in the cuadro. Previously Loli and Jacinta had gone there running, and on arriving were in ecstasy. And they said that they saw the Angel, and that he told them to return to the cuadro at 10:30. Then they went down to the village and later went up with Mari Cruz. The girls cried and said: "Don't tell us these things! Take us away.... They should confess! They should get ready!" Afterward they said that they would put it in writing (as the Angel had told them to do). It lasted 50 minutes.
In the meantime, what was Conchita doing? Why was she absent during the important activity in the calleja? Some notes from Dr. Ortiz clarify this:
My sister-in-law Eloisa (who was spending some time in Garabandal with her daughter), told me that at dusk on June 19, she met with other people in Conchita's house. Conchita's mother would not let her go out since she had a bad knee. Soon the girl went into ecstasy, falling so hard on her knees that she made them bleed. Then Eloisa said to Aniceta:
"You haven't accomplished anything by not letting her go out. Look what she has done."
"It's all right with me if she goes out."
The girl didn't go out, but in ecstasy she picked up a piece of paper and holding it by the bottom edge — in the air! — she began to write on it with a pen. Approaching with flashlights, the people wanted to read what she was writing, and she tried to hide it. "Don't look," someone said, "she doesn't want you to." Then she went up to her room, changed her pen and continued writing. When this had ended and she was normal again, Placido came into the house, all excited, and exclaimed:
"Did you hear the screams of the girls in the calleja?
"They were horrible!"
What happened in the calleja on that night of June 19, the first Night of the Screams (Noches de los Gritos) as the people began to call them, must have been very impressive and serious. We have just seen Father Valentin's notation: "Afterward they said they would put it in writing."
And so it was actually done; there came from this a short message dated June 19, 1962, with the signatures of Mari Loli and Jacinta. (Could this have been the same message that Conchita, at home in ecstasy, was attempting to write on the piece of paper she was holding up in the air? I have seen many copies of this message with slight variations, but what I am setting down here is from a photocopy of the text that the girls gave to a trustworthy person, written and signed in their own handwriting. Evidently, this message is a very weak reflection of what they saw and heard on that first night of the screams.
The Virgin has told us: That even though we don't expect the Chastisement to come, it will come because the world has not changed. She has already told us twice, but we have not paid attention to her since the world is worse. And it should change very much, but has not changed at all. Prepare yourselves. Confess, because the Chastisement will come soon. And the world stays the same.... I tell you this: That the world continues to be the same. How unfortunate that it does not change. Soon will come a very great Chastisement, if it does not change.
- Maria Dolores Mazon, Jacinta Gonzalez
Photo: Mari Loli in ecstasy 1962.
With their poor capacity for expression, they sought with this repetition of ideas to inculcate forcefully the few basic things that they had heard and seen (and in what a way!) in the course of the apparition:
1) That the Chastisement — I write this with a capital so no one will interpret it to be an ordinary chastisement — announced in the first Message, was inexorably going to come. The reason for this is that only penitential reform can save us from it, and instead of this, what is happening in the world today is a rapid progression down the road of the worst disorders.
2) That only those who "prepare themselves" by a sincere return to God, together with constant prayer and vigilance, will be in the proper state to face the terrible test.
On that night, after the girls' terrifying screams, tears, and broken, incoherent speech, Garabandal could not sleep tranquilly. But the next day was even worse. Early in the morning, Father Felix Larrazábal, the superior of the Franciscans of San Pantaleón de Aras (Santander), arrived. He had been summoned by Father Valentin to perform services for Corpus Christi in the village.
In the evening some devout persons went to confession at the time of the rosary. The majority of the people were working in the fields, which required a lot of labor at that time of year, especially since the next day was a feast day when they couldn't work. As the evening shadows fell, almost everyone was awaiting what might happen since all had been startled by what had occurred on the previous night. Eloisa de la Roza Velarde wrote:
At 1:00 a.m., I went to Mari Cruz's house to pick up a rosary that I had left, and on the way I heard that the others were already in the calleja. 1 returned immediately to search for my daughter, but didn't find her. Then I hurried to the calleja, and there she was with Maximina — in whose house we were staying — and many other people, among whom was Father Felix Larrazábal."
We know from Father Valentin, who wrote down what they said, that the girls...
...went to the cuadro, as on the previous day, toward 10:30 at night. They said they had seen the Angel, who told them that the Virgin would come later but that the people should stay at a distance — that no one should pass beyond the last house in the village. And so everyone did this, but it seems that a Franciscan Father, who was surely the only priest present, showed the intent of going to where the girls were. Ceferino blocked his way, saying: "Here we are all equal." Afterward, it appears that the girls were heard crying very much.
What Father Valentin refers to here as being heard is confirmed by the personal experience of Eloisa de la Roza:
The girls let out terrifying screams. And they said, "Wait! Wait!.... Everyone should confess! Oh! Oh!" The people began to pray and to ask pardon publicly.... The priest, who was very excited, prayed in a loud voice, and we all prayed with him. When we momentarily stopped, the girls cried and screamed again in a very anguished manner. They calmed down again when the prayer resumed.
On returning to normal (Father Valentin's notes say that this remarkable apparition ended at about 2:00 in the morning), the girls said they would spend the night there in prayer.
"And us?" the spectators asked.
"As you wish."
I don't think anyone moved; we prayed with them — Father Valentin said that they prayed many rosaries — until six in the morning.
At that time (there was a beautiful sunrise), Father Larrazábal went toward the church, followed by all the people, and the line for confession formed. The whole village confessed, and it appears that they were confessions of truly exceptional sincerity and repentance.
How could it have been otherwise after such preparation, both personal and communal, at the calleja"? The pure love of God will always be of the greatest value and the great measure of every spiritual life. But the holy fear of God should not be neglected, which from ancient times has been shown to be the "beginning of wisdom" (Eccles 1:16).
The holy fear of God was experienced as never before by the men and women of Garabandal on the two nights of the screams. Months later, the memory of it was still vivid. On September 24, Maria Herrero de Gallardo wrote from Santander to her sister, Menchu:
I spent a long time speaking alone with Jacinta's mother, and she told me the night before Corpus Christi had been terrifying. The girls ran to the cuadro. Afterwards they advised the people that they should approach no farther than a certain distance, that they shouldn't go beyond a place in the road from which the girls couldn't be seen.
Jacinta's mother told me she heard them let out cries with unheard-of voices and such horror that she wanted to run toward her daughter to see what was happening; but the people held her back. When the vision ended, the girls came to the place where the people were, and the people saw that the girls' faces were stained with tears. The girls requested the whole village to confess and receive Communion, as a horrible thing was going to happen. Maria (Jacinta's mother) experienced such fright that she couldn't sleep.
Six years later, Pepe Diez, the village stone mason, spoke to a married couple from Asturias in words similar to these that I overheard:
Look, I don't want to brag, but Fm a man, it might be said, who doesn't know fear. I go out to all parts of the village, and over the distant trails in the night just like in the day. I have never been afraid. But on those nights of the screams, with everyone together in the darkness, in silence, hearing the girls' crying and shrieking in the distance, I shook so much that I couldn't stop my knees from knocking together. You can't imagine what that was. I have never experienced anything like it in my life.
What could the girls have seen to break out like this with the shrill shrieks and screams that terrified everyone? Maria Herrero de Gallardo, in Garabandal several months later, spoke with Loli on Sunday, October 7, the feast of the Holy Rosary. She questioned Loli, among other things, about what the girls had seen during the feast of Corpus Christi.
The girl did not say many words, but what she did say was enough.
All this is simply remarkable. It should make every person reflect on his salvation. But I am afraid for many. The "charismatics" of optimism faced with the actual situation of the Church today, in its convulsions, see only a "crisis of growth." They detect with certainty — I don't know by what signs — the coming of an "unknown springtime." And they regard everything that has just been mentioned as a not-to-be-taken-seriously prophecy from old-fashioned, well-known "prophets of doom."
The true prophets were sent to communicate to the people of God, time and time again, what it was necessary for them to know. And it cannot be denied that we have needed, more than once, the sternest warnings and corrections.
The words of the prophecy itself distinguish the false from the true prophet. It is clear that the people of God do not like to hear certain matters, even though they are conducive to their salvation, and their guides like to hear them even less. It was the same in Israel in the days of Jeremiah the prophet. The insistence on reform by that "prophet of doom" did not please the Israelites; they preferred instead the pleasant predictors of a prosperous future. But it is well known what then happened.
We can well imagine how the feast of Corpus Christi, the great feast of the Eucharist, was celebrated in Garabandal during that year of grace, 1962, after such a vigil and after such reception of the Sacrament of Penance. No one missed the solemn Mass and almost everyone received Communion. Later, during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the cleaned and garlanded streets of the village, there resounded the traditional hymns of homage to the hidden God in the Blessed Sacrament. As if for the purpose of directing all attention toward the mysteries celebrated on that day, there was nothing particularly striking with regard to the visionaries. "Mari Cruz went to the cuadro," Father Valentin wrote. "She went there in the natural state, and upon arriving, knelt down and went into ecstasy; but she didn't say anything. The other girls didn't have an apparition."
The following day, Friday, there were no apparitions at all. But on the next day, Saturday, June 23, even though Father Valentin makes no reference to it, there must have been a winding up of the two "nights of screams" since the second message from Loli and Jacinta bears this date:
The Virgin has told us: That the world continues the same, that it has not changed at all; that few will see God, so few that it is causing the Virgin great sorrow. How unfortunate that the world does not change! The Virgin has told us that the Chastisement is coming. As the world is not changing, the cup is filling up. How sorrowful the Virgin is, although she does not allow us to see it. Since the Virgin loves us so much, she suffers alone, since she is so good. Everyone be good, so that the Virgin will be happy! She has told us that those who are good should pray for those who are bad. Yes, we should pray to God for the world, for those who do not know Him. Be good, be very good.
- Maria Dolores Mazon, 13 years
- Jacinta Gonzalez, 13 years
Why at Corpus Christi?
Why did the "Nights of the Screams" occur at the time of Corpus Christi, the great feast of Our Lord's Body and Blood? Might it not have had something to do with the great crisis that would develop regarding the Holy Eucharist in the way It is now received, distributed, reserved and often consecrated om unworthy vessels, not to mention its virtual exclusion from parish worship in a great number of churches? For the Chastisement to be averted the Blessed Sacrament, the Sacrament of sacraments and our greatest Treasure, must once again be restored to its rightful place at the center of the Church's cult.
Reprinted with permission from Garabandal Journal, May-June 2004
Excerpted from SHE WENT IN HASTE TO THE MOUNTAIN by Eusebio Garcia de Pesquuera, O.F.M., Cap.