Certainly for the visionaries of Garabandal, one of the more perplexing prophecies made by the Blessed Virgin was that they would doubt their visions. This did in fact happen almost as soon as they stopped having ecstasies and in August, 1966, Conchita and Mari Loli entered into a period of "deep doubts" which continued, although lessening in intensity, during the following years. It is against this backdrop that the following episode must be viewed and what is most striking about it is Our Lady's sense of "timing". It was She Herself who laid upon the frail shoulders of the young visionaries this heavy cross of "the doubts" but, at the same time, She would give them the means to carry it and in various ways and at various times, would help them to presevere in their trials until that climactic event, the great Miracle, when all doubts will forever be put to rest. The testimony of Paquita Manueco was written down the day after the incident took place.
San Sebastian de Garabandal, August 29, 1968.
I am now going to relate an event simple by its nature, but because of its prophetic character, can be classified as a small "prodigy". The explanation took place last night at 11:00 p.m., in my house [in Garabandal] and there were two persons present besides Conchita who can verify my testimony, Maria Isabel Salisachs and Conchita Martin.
In order to begin, I must go back to the previous year. Because of insufficient space at the entrance way of my garage, I decided to enlarge it by purchasing a fenced-off plot of land - what they call here in the villlage an "orchard" - approximately three meters square. The fence was in bad condition so this year I decided to upgrade the property by reinforcing the fence and smoothing out the ground.
While the workman proceeded to take down part of the fence, he found, deeply imbedded in the ground and covered with stones, a cross with three beads attached to it, that is to say, the first part of a rosary. As soon as he found it, he brought it to me and since it looked rather old, I wondered if it could possibly have been kissed by the Virgin. At the time of the apparitions almost all the rosaries that were in the village were being kissed by the Virgin.
A few days later I took the object to the elderly woman who sold me the piece of property and asked if it belonged to her. She assured me that it wasn't hers and that I could keep it. After another two or three days, I showed it to Jacinta [one of the visionaries] and asked her if it could have been kissed by the Virgin. She answered that she had no way of knowing. Mari Loli [another one of the visionaries] said the same thing when I showed it to her. I intended to ask Conchita but time passed and I just never got around to it.
Last night (August 28, 1968), Feast of St. Augustine, Conchita was in the living room of my house and it suddenly dawned on me to ask her what up to that point I had kept forgetting. It must have been about 10 days since I had the cross and beads in my possession. At the time, the object was in a small bag in the kitchen. Our discussion continued in the following manner:
"Conchita, I just remembered that there was something I wanted to ask you. Juan Jose (the workman) found buried in the ground that I bought from Soledad, a fragment of a rosary with a cross and I would like to know if it has been kissed by the Virgin. Would you know?"
"But that's impossible. How do you expect me to know with the great number of rosaries that passed through my hands?"
Then a half minute passed and she said: "Wait. Are the beads of that rosary made of olive-colored stone?"
"Why, yes, as a matter of fact they are."
Conchita became flushed and without hesitation answered, "Then there is no doubt, it has been kissed by the Virgin."
Her great assurance left me perplexed and I asked: "How do you know?"
"It's not important. You can be sure it has been kissed."
"Now wait a minute Conchita. It is important and since you know, you're going to tell me!"
"Because it has been, that's all."
"That's no answer. Please be good enough to explain it to me."
The girl became more flushed and her eyes deepened.
"That rosary belongs to the daughter of the Indiano [Villagers who left Garabandal to come to America to work and then returned to Garabandal] and had been kissed during the first days of the apparitions. I was carrying it with me while I was in ecstasy and lost those beads (with the cross). When I told the Virgin, She answered, 'Don't worry, with time you will find them.'"
I went to get the object and showed it to her. She said: "That's it all right. Exactly two days ago I said to Conchita - you can ask her - 'Just think, the Virgin assured me that I would find that part of the rosary that I lost seven years ago and it hasn't happened. Don't you see, the apparitions aren't true. If they had been true, I would have fount it.'"
"And now what do you say, Conchita? If you had been capable of basing your doubt on an event that was supposed to happen that you thought hadn't, and now find that it has indeed come to pass, what is the strength of your doubt? Be good enough to explain to Carmina what has transpired. After all, you don't want to leave this blemish on the good name of the Virgin. As you can see, She has fulfilled to the letter what She promised."
Conchita remained astounded. I asked her: "What effect has this discovery produced in you?"
"I don't know. I find it so strange..."
"But your joy is evident!"
I believe that this proceeding, even though seemingly insignificant, is sufficiently eloquent. It shows once more that what the girl said would happen in the future has indeed been fulfilled.
By Paquita Manueco de Garay, Reprinted with permission from GARABANDAL JOURNAL January-February 2003