In our last edition, we showed how the reading of hearts, an important criteria for judging the authenticity of alleged manifestations, was present at garabandal. In this issue, we take up another important criteria: prophecy. Mystical theologians see the fulfillment of prophecies made during alleged manifestations as a positive sign pointing to supernatural origin.
Photo: Conchita and Mari Loli on August 15, 1966, the day the deep doubts" began.
According to Pope Benedict XIV in Heroic Virtue, III 144, 150, neither angels nor devils can foretell future events, which are the proper objects of prophecy, unless communicated to them by God. Neither can man of his own nature know the future unless God communicates it to him.
Mystical theologians divide prophecy into the perfect and imperfect. "It is called perfect when not only the thing revealed, but the revelation itself is made known, that is, when the prophet knows that it is God who speaks. The prophecy is imperfect when the recipient does not know clearly or sufficiently from whom the revelation proceeds, or whether it is the prophetic or individual spirit that speaks" (Catholic Encyclopedia 12473A). At Garabandal, prophecies communicated from the Blessed Virgin to the seers should be classified in the perfect category.
The prophetic element of the events became manifest early enough for Jacinta's mother, Maria, to say: "What can this be? Everything they predict comes true. Who can be telling them these things?"[Garabandal — El Pueblo Habla by Ramon Perez.]
Photo: Bishop Puchol. After his interrogation of Conchita, he launched a campaign against Garabandal.
Visionaries' Doubts and Confusion in the Church
One of the first prophecies came early in the events in 1961 and was somewhat enigmatic. After the visionaries came out of ecstasy, the onlookers wanted to know, as usual, what the Vision had said to them: "What did the Virgin tell you this time?" The girls looked at each other as if in consultation. Their interrogators pressed them, "Well, tell us!"
"We don't understand very well," they replied.
"Well tell us just the same."
The girls said that the Virgin has told them: "A time will come when all four of you will contradict yourselves about the visions; when your families will have doubts about them; when you too will doubt and even deny them."
"Is that all?"
Photo: Conchita in ecstasy June 18, 1965. She did not deny the Message she received from St. Michael. Placido Ruiloba (holding the mic) heard the visionary say in ecstasy: "Oh, the bishop. What a pity, what a pity." Tears then rolled down her cheeks. It has never been determined if Conchita's words referred to the auto accident less than two years later on May 8,1967, that claimed Bishop Puchol's life.
"No. The Virgin added, 'In this way you will establish among yourselves the same confusion that now exists in the Church.'"
A priest present strongly protested: "This isn't the Virgin who is appearing. There is no confusion in the Church. It is the Devil speaking."[Tout le Peuple l'Ecoutait by Robert Francois.]
The prophecy concerning the visionaries' doubts and denials came to pass as foretold. By January of 1963, Mari Cruz, Jacinta and Mari Loli, were no longer having visions, and almost immediately they began to doubt. Mari Cruz was the first to actually deny having seen the Virgin.
But August 15, 1966, was a landmark day in the progression of the visionaries' doubts for on this day Conchita and Mari Loli began to be assailed by "deep doubts." Pictures taken of the two on that day show them with forlorn faces. Conchita was suddenly overwhelmed with the belief that she was deceiving everyone and felt compelled to confess to the new parish priest Father Jose Olano (who asked her to say 15 rosaries for a penance).[THE CALL OF GARABANDAL, April-June 1983.] She asked to see the Bishop.
Bishop Vicente Puchol, Ordinary of the Santander Diocese, went with three priests to the convent school in Pamplona, where Conchita was enrolled at the time, and interrogated her for several hours. She denied having seen the Virgin but said the calls (llamadas) and Messages were true and that the Miracle would happen. Conchita was wearing a ring kissed by the Virgin which the Bishop asked to venerate just in case it was true. Despite these contradictions, Bishop Puchol issued a devastating statement to the press. In 1978, Fr. Francis Benac, S.J. asked Conchita: "Didn't the Bishop know that Our Lady had already told you long before that one day all of you would deny everything that you were seeing and hearing?" She replied: "Surely not, because had he known about this he would never have published what he did."[Ibid.]
Photo: Frame of film shot by Alejandro Damiens, above left showing the Host on Conchita's tongue on July 19,1962. Above right, witness Pepe Diez.
Are these doubts experienced by the visionaries viewed as a negative aspect of the apparitions? Not at all. Jeanne-Marie Lebosse, one of the visionaries of Pontmain (officially recognized by the Church) made a formal retraction on December 15, 1920, in which she said that she did not see the Blessed Virgin who appeared at Pontmain on January 17, 1871.[Pontmain, Histoire Authentique, R. Laurentin, A. Durand.] And Saint Teresa of Avila in her autobiography recounts that the day arrived "when all the graces the Lord had bestowed on me were blotted out of my memory." [Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, Chapter 30.]
Regarding confusion in the Church, no explanation is necessary as this confusion announced by Our Lady in 1961 openly manifested itself just one year later with the opening of the Second Vatican Council and all that followed.
The Milagrucu (Little Miracle)
Whenever the visionaries received Communion from St. Michael, the Host was always invisible to onlookers. But since the seers were constantly asking the Virgin and St. Michael to perform a miracle, on June 22, 1962, according to Conchita's diary, during an ecstasy in which she received Communion from the angel, he told her that on a certain day the Host would be visible to onlookers. Conchita called it a small miracle because she thought the Host could always be seen whenever she received It.
On June 29, Conchita learned the date of the miracle: July 18. She first told the other three girls and then on July 2, she told Father José Ramon Garcia de la Riva, but only what the miracle would consist of, not the date. When Conchita asked the angel when she could announce it, he told her fifteen days in advance.
On July 3, Conchita began informing the villagers and writing some letters such as this one to Dr. Celestino Ortiz of Santander dated July 10,1962:
Photo: Fr. Lucio Rodrigo, S.J. The widely known (in Spain) Rector of the Pontifical University at Comilias and reputed confessor to Franco, while confessor to Conchita learned of the prophecy concerning the papal visit to the Holy Land.
Just a few words to tell you that the Angel told me that on the eighteenth of this month they are going to see the Host on my tongue when I receive Communion. Well, nothing more.
The villagers didn't put much faith in what the girl said nor did the village pastor, Father Valentin, who advised her not to write any more letters.
Nevertheless, about 1:40 A.M. on July 19, [Conchita inadvertently had received Communion on the morning of the eighteenth and therefore under existing Church law, could not receive again until the following day. Hence the angel, no doubt realizing this, waited until after midnight to give her the Host.] 1962, a large crowd was still present when Conchita came out of her house in ecstasy, turned a corner, and fell to her knees in a nearby street with the crowd pressing in around her. Here is the testimony of witness Pepe Diez as to what happened next:
When I saw that she held out her tongue, and that there was nothing at all on it, I had, I think, the worst moment in my life. "Oh my God!" I said to myself, "This is terrible; there's nothing here!" And on saying this, I shined my flashlight directly into the interior of her mouth. Suddenly without the girl moving her tongue in the least — in a most unexplainable way — there suddenly materialized on it a white, round thing that seemed to increase in size. I don't know how long it lasted, perhaps two or three minutes. [She Went in Haste to the Mountain]
Photo: Mother Maria Nieves.
After swallowing the Host, Conchita got to her feet and continued walking in ecstasy as the Virgin appeared to her and said, "They still don't believe."
Among the other witnesses was Alejandro Damiens, a businessman from Barcelona who with a borrowed movie camera and only flashlight illumination took several frames of film showing the Host on Conchita's tongue.
What is especially important in the fulfillment of this prophecy is that it was announced in advance and realized at the appointed time.
At Garabandal, there were a number of prophecies made about the papacy. Some are yet to be fulfilled such as the present pope being the last one, and that he will see the great Miracle "from wherever he is at the time." These last words are significant because they indicate that the pope will see the Miracle when it actually happens and not as did Father Luis Andreu and Saint Padre Pio.
There are three fulfilled prophecies regarding the papacy that we know of.
The first we owe to the late Father Alfred Combe (+1993) who testified that when visiting Father Lucio Rodrigo, S.J., moral theologian at the Pontifical University at Comilias and confessor to Conchita for a time, that he saw in Father Rodrigo's notebook: "The pope will go to the Holy Land." After Pope Paul VI's historic visit on May 13, 1967, Father Rodrigo had written in the margin, "done."
Photo: Pope John Paul II and his papal motto with a large M for Mary.
A second testimony regarding the papacy was given by Placido Ruiloba, Santander businessman and great witness to the Garabandal events who saw over a 1,000 ecstasies. He heard Conchita say that of the three remaining popes after John XXIII, one would have a very short reign. Pope John Paul I reigned for just 33 days.
A third testimony we owe to Mother Maria Nieves, Superior of the school in Burgos that Conchita attended in 1966-67. Mother, who had several interviews with Conchita which she recorded in a memoir, remembered Conchita telling her that the last of the popes before el fin de los tiempos (the end of the times) will be Papa Papa (this would refer to John Paul II) y muy amante de la Virgin — and a great lover of the Virgin (again a clear reference to John Paul II).[Letter from Mother Maria Nieves to Prof. Jacques Serre dated February 28, 1993.]
Padre Pio Seeing the Miracle
When Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968, Conchita was perplexed. How could the Blessed Virgin have told her that he would see the Miracle and now he was dead? Conchita's concerns were put to rest one month later in October, 1968, when she went to Lourdes with her mother and Father Alfred Combe at the request of a woman who had some things from Padre Pio for her: the veil that had covered his face in death which he had directed was to be given to her, and a note from Padre Pio which had been transcribed by Padre Pellegrino who assisted the famed stigmatist in his final days.
Photo: Saint Pio saw the Miracle before he died.
In the group of Franciscans who accompanied the woman (she took sick at Lourdes and was bedridden in a hospital when Conchita visited her), was Father Bernardino Cennamo, O.F.M. Father Cennamo was not of the San Giovanni friary but had been well known to Padre Pio. Conchita took the occasion to ask him how the Blessed Virgin could have told her that Padre Pio now deceased would see the Miracle. Father Cennamo answered that Padre Pio had seen the Miracle before he died and that he had told him so himself.
Cardinals, Bishops and Priests Going the Wrong Way and Less and Less Importance Being Given to the Eucharist
How is it that opponents of Garabandal can so easily dismiss the truth of the apparitions when they have been able to see for themselves the accurate foretelling of coming trends contained in the second Message delivered by St, Michael on Our Lady's behalf, to Conchita on June 18,1965?
Many cardinals, many bishops and many priests are on the road to perdition and taking many souls with them.
Two points are worth making with regard to this statement. The first is that Conchita neither could nor would have made a statement like this on her own because of the profound respect she had for members of the hierarchy as she explains in another part of this magazine. The second point is the timing of the Message which came a few months before the last session of Vatican II. Was it a warning to those Fathers who had gone into the Council with their own agenda for sweeping change?
Less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist.
Here again is a statement that could not possibly be attributed to Conchita Gonzalez. How could she have known of this trend on her own when no one in the Church really recognized it as a problem?
After the Council we saw an unprecedented dismantling of Eucharist devotion whose effects are still with us today. But even before the Council, there was movement in this direction. In the 1952 edition of the traditional Mass missal, one finds an octave for the feast of Corpus Christi. By 1961, the octave had been suppressed.
Photo: Albrecht Weber with Conchita in Garabandal in 1965.
The positioning of the statement that "less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist" in the Message should not be overlooked. It comes right after the sentence regarding cardinals, bishops and priests. The hierarchy is custodian of the Holy Eucharist.
If the Church must undergo a trial by fire, one of the principal reasons might well be because of what has been allowed to happen to the Holy Eucharist. The very next sentence in the Message after reference to the downgrading of the Eucharist reads: "You should turn the wrath of God away from yourselves by your efforts."
Widespread Practice of Abortion
Among the fulfilled prophecies of Garabandal was one that only came to light with the publication of a German book [Garabandal — Der Zeigefinger Gottes.]
on Garabandal in 1992. The author, Albrecht Weber, was in Garabandal on the day after Conchita's last apparition at Garabandal on November 13,1965, and had a long conversation with the visionary. The following excerpt from his book deals with some of what the visionary told him:
She [Conchita] spoke quite openly about the developments by which men in the near future would rebel against God. On the day after Our Lady's last appearance at Garabandal, Conchita asked the author, "Can you imagine how somebody could kill children in the womb without thereby killing the mother?" The author spontaneously answered, "No! What gave you that idea, Conchita?"
"Well, the Blessed Mother spoke about this and she let me know that this will happen with the overflowing of the chalice." [In her second Message of June 18,1965, the Virgin said, "Before, the cup was filling up. Now it is flowing over."]
Conchita said this tremblingly without being able to visualize what it really implied.
She said further that it disturbed her very much but that she felt ridiculous because she hadn't understood at all how this killing could be effected. The Blessed Virgin had not explained it to her and up until that moment, nobody had been able to make her understand it at all.
Conchita would learn soon enough when abortion became legalized, even in her native country.
Reprinted with kind permission from Garabandal Journal, January-February 2004, by Barry Hanratty