with kind permission from St. Joseph Publications
from the book She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Book 1)
NOTE: All excerpts from Conchita's Diary will be in extra-bold type
The first Holy Week in Garabandal during the apparitions (April 15th to 22nd) left indelible traces engraved on many hearts.
In the same places and at the same time that Mercedes Salisachs had the personal experiences that have just been mentioned, another distinguished visitor to the village was also having his own deeply felt experiences. The visitor was a doctor from the city of Vitoria named José de la Vega. A believer, but not easily aroused, he went up to Garabandal like many others, simply out of curiosity to see what was happening.
What happened there had such an
effect on him that he felt it his duty in conscience to make it known.
Under his name appeared an article in the newspaper El Pensamiento Alavés
April 27th, 1962, during Easter Week:
PHOTO (left) : "The Virgin passes almost daily . . ." PHOTO (right): "... thru the winding streets."
«From the 18th of last June, the Virgin passes almost daily thru the winding streets of a little village lost in the hills of the Picos de Europa. [For the sake of accuracy, the doctor's statement should be clarified: Garabandal is not in the group of mountains composing the Picos de Europa, although it is near to it in the Peña Sagra chain of mountains to the northeast.] This is what is affirmed by four girls between 11 and 12 years of age, born and brought up high in the Santander mountains, without any more education than grade school and instructions by their parish priest.
PHOTO: the ancient village school
The entire village of about 70 families has lived for months in complete disorder. Once or more on almost every day at pre-fixed hours the girls pray, speak to, and kiss the Virgin, and are swept up in deep ecstasy. The simple parents of these young girls are frightened . . .
The Church prudently refrains from giving its opinion. The doctors, even the most incredulous, have recognized that this matter doesn't have any logical explanation. But thousands of believers — coming each day to the village from the most faraway places — find in fervent and tearful faith, the only explanation for the extraordinary events that happen every night at San Sebastian de Garabandal.
"I was forced to believe in a miracle."
— Have you seen the Virgin? — some people
— No. I haven't seen her. But I have felt her with my heart and soul.
"where the Virgin appeared for the first time."
The roughness of the way, the blackness of the night, the bad weather, and my flabby condition as a city dweller made me stumble so many times that I fell behind. Finally, I could go no more and decided to wait for them to return. On the contrary, my wife didn't want to stop — in spite of being short of breath — and she continued onward, asking help for my lack of faith . . .
Soon the girl slopped without arriving at the crest of the hill, and came back on the trail down, marching backwards, hardly touching the stones, continuously looking upward and smiling at the sky.
On coming to my level, she stopped again, fell hard on the gravel with her bare knees, raised the cross to the sky and . . . gave it to me to kiss! Then she searched with her hands among the multitude of chains and rosaries that hung from her neck, seeking for a special chain, while whispering to the invisible Apparition, Tell me which is it ... Is it this one?
With her hand she raised up the medal to give it to the Virgin to kiss in her vision. And we all heard her whisper again, Tell me whom it belongs to.
"Try to explain the mystery of the four village girls from the Montaña."
I will return to San Sebastian de Garabandal, as everyone who has come returns. I will bring doctors and friends, and I will ask them to try to explain the mystery of the four village girls from the Montana. But still more, I will ask God that the feeling I felt on the early morning of Holy Saturday never leave me. It is so beautiful to believe in a miracle!»