A few days later, Conchita learned through Our Lady that the prodigy would occur on July 18 and that she was to reveal it 15 days in advance. When the time came, she began, with great assurance, to write letters inviting people to come to Garabandal for the miracle, but the pastor, Fr. Valentin, who doubted that the phenomenon would happen, stopped her from writing any more letters. Nevertheless, the news had already spread far and wide and people from different parts of Spain began making preparations to be in Garabandal on July 18.
July 18, 1962, saw two camps in Garabandal, those who were there to see Conchita's ecstasy and those who had come to enjoy the festivities. Conflict was almost inevitable.
The beginning of the day was certainly edifying enough.
Toward noon there was a solemn chanted Mass in the village church with
three priests officiating, and the church was filled to overflowing. There
were so many
|In 1963, 14-year-old Conchita Gonzalez. stood on the exact spot where during the previous year she had received the visible Host from St. Michael the Archangel.|
communicants that Hosts had to be broken into pieces to accommodate everyone who wanted to receive. Among those receiving Communion was Conchita Gonzalez, a fact that was to have a bearing on the upcoming prophesied event since Church law at the time only permitted a person to receive Communion once a day.
At the conclusion of Mass, the statue of St. Sebastian was taken down from above the main altar and carried in procession through the village to the accompaniment of alternating religious couplets and the sound of drums and tambourines. In a clearing on the opposite side of the village from the church, the procession ended and the young people of Garabandal, dressed in traditional Cantabrian folk costumes, performed the dance called "los picayos," a time-honored custom.
Once the dance was over and the statue of St. Sebastian returned to the church, the formal celebration of the feast day was over. Soon, a more secular spirit would pervade the air when the big dance began.
As the day wore on, so did the dancing and the people who had come for Conchita's ecstasy started to become uneasy. "What's happening with Conchita?" they asked, but all was quiet at the Gonzalez residence. Many felt that the dancing and merry-making were preventing the ecstasy from taking place. Attempts to get the musicians to stop playing were unsuccessful.
The scene was one of contrasts made all the more pronounced because the dance was taking place only a short distance from Conchita's house and in full view. The close proximity of the two groups seemed to symbolize the perpetual ongoing battle between the spiritual and the worldly.
Day turned into night and the people were growing increasingly restless. Inside Conchita's house, the mood among family relatives, priests and friends, was no better. Finally one of Conchita's brothers who was dozing by the kitchen hearth jumped up and said to her, "I can't take this any longer; I'm going to bed. You've badly deceived all of us!" After repeating himself one more time, he left to go upstairs. Conchita called after him, "No, don't go. Wait a little longer." She had already received at least one interior summons and knew that the time was drawing near.
After midnight, the dancing finally stopped but by then many people, convinced that the prodigy was not going to happen, had left the village.
At 1:40 a.m., a goodly number of people still remained and when Conchita came out of her house in ecstasy, it was as though an electrical charge shot through the crowd. The mad scramble was on, with people falling over one another to get as close to the visionary as possible. This is what they had waited for and no one wanted to miss it.
With the crowd pressing around her, Conchita turned a corner, went down a street and then into a back alley used as a dumping ground for dirty water. It sounds a bit like Lourdes where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette in the cave of Massabielle which was used as a garbage dump.
The late Benjamin Gomez. was right next to Conchita when the prodigy
| The late Benjamin Gomez was very close to Conchita
when she entered the lane and left us this account:
I saw her kneeling down, the arms at the sides of the body, then opening the mouth and presenting a bare tongue. I was very surprised and I looked. I saw very well, because as I said, I was so close, less than the width of my hand from her face. I looked in her mouth very easily, taking my time. I looked up—nothing; I looked down—nothing. At that moment, one of my cousins who was behind me, touched me on the shoulder so I let him look. I turned my head for one instant; what am I saying? for a second! When I looked back the Host was on her tongue.
It was white, but a white out of this world. Sometimes I search for a comparison, but I can find only one although very far from reality. We would have said something like snow, a snowflake upon which the sun's rays were striking. But in that case, the white hurts the eyes whereas the Host did not strain one's eyesight.
|Pepe Diez, the village mason, was another close-hand observer and perhaps
the best of all the witnesses to have given their testimonies:
At the moment Conchita fell to her knees, all the people present tried to do the same, some on top of the others, some kneeling down on the ground; others bowed very profoundly, and everyone was showing great humility. In spite of the mob, everyone was trying to be considerate of their neighbor which was not easy.
But I did not take my eyes off the girl. She started to speak, to pray, and then she smiled and while smiling she opened her mouth and put out her tongue very naturally. She extended her tongue, not just a little bit, but quite a lot, and as I saw that tongue so perfectly bare, I had a terrible feeling of disaster. In my naivete, I had thought that at the precise moment Conchita put out her tongue we would see the Host, or that the Host would appear instantaneously, or who knows what?
I was scarcely 18 inches away from her face and the sight of her tongue, protruding and bare, gave me a terrible feeling of failure, I, who was hoping for so much! Conchita kept her tongue out like that for about a minute. And as I stood there, my eyes riveted on that tongue so hopelessly bare, something incredible happened! Without moving my eyes for a fraction of a second, suddenly a neat, precise and well-formed Host appeared miraculously on Conchita's tongue. I can attest to the fact that from the moment Conchita put out her tongue, she did not make a single move, either with her mouth or with her tongue; not a single muscle in her face moved.
The tongue was well out and bare and all of a sudden the Host was there! I did not see how it came. It was instantaneous! I can't even say it arrived in a split second. It was just—there! This is what I call the most significant part of the miracle.
Conchita's ecstasy did not end there. St. Michael told her to hold out her tongue with the Host on it— from two to three minutes according to most observers—until the Virgin came. When Conchita retracted her tongue, she got up and marched off, following her vision into the starry night.