Next ...BOOK 3 Chapter 1c
The News Spreads: Expectation Mounts
Reprinted 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

*    *    *
    Luis Navas Carrillo left Garabandal without knowing anything of the little miracle (milagrucu) that the Angel had foretold. But on the same day as his departure, Monday, July 2nd, 1962 — the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin — a person came to the village who was going to be the first to know about it, after the girls.

    The first person whom I told that the Angel was going to perform a miracle was a priest: Fr. José Ramón García de la Riva. PHOTO (right): Fr. de la Riva and child witnesses

    And on the same day I told it to Mari Cruz, Loli, and Jacinta too. [According to the text, it would seem that Conchita had revealed the date of the miracle first to Fr. de la Riva, then to her companions. But by what follows and by other information available, one arrives at the conclusion that her companions were the first ones notified; afterwards, by mutual agreement, the girls informed Fr. de la Riva.]

    Conchita does not give the date or the circumstances of her communication; we know them, thanks to the Memorias of Fr. de la Riva himself:

Visionaries in front of Virgin's Pine

    «On the 2nd of July, 1962, I went up to Garabandal, desiring to spend several days of vacation.

    During the course of the afternoon, I was with the young visionaries at the Pines. They were playing and I was seated next to them, very pleased to note their happiness; they were playing a game called los tios. [Similar to Hide and Seek.]

    Their happiness at this moment was equal to that which they felt, but tried to hide, when they had their famous calls.

    Suddenly Conchita came up to me and said unexpectedly: — I am going to tell you what the Angel's miracle consists of.

    Certainly curious, but refusing to show my feelings, I told her that if it was a secret, she shouldn't reveal it to me . . . She was thoughtful for a few seconds, then she returned to the other three girls, as if to consult them: — Shouldn't he be told?

    All three, from the place where they were playing (near what was called the Virgin's Pine), answered in a single voice: — Yes. Yes.

    Then I got up and said to them: — All right, but you are going to tell me individually. [A very shrewd decision by the priest; thus it was easy for him to discern if it was something fabricated by the girls.]

    Conchita spoke first, then her companions. And they all told me the same thing: — They are going to see the Host . . .

    On coming down from the Pines, Loli told her father about the news and the nature of the miracle. Learning this, Conchita was very angry: — Now — she said to her mother — there certainly won't be a miracle because Loli has mentioned it to her father . . .

    Then I learned what the predicted miracle would consist of, and I had the chance to be the first to know about it; but I didn't know the date on which it would take place. On the eve of July 5th, I returned back to my parish in Barro and Conchita still didn't know the date.»

    I think that my fellow priest from Barro is in error because we have seen how, during the ecstasy of June 29th, the young girl heard the voice that said to her:
    July 18th would be when the miracle would occur . . . the little miracle (milagrucu), as you say.

    At the time the girl still could not reveal the date. This can be seen from her diary:

    During the Communion that the Angel gave me, I asked when I would be able to tell that there was going to be a miracle and what it was going to be.

    And he told me in the fifteen days before. [Strictly holding to 15 days before, Conchita could have been able to tell Fr, de la Riva the date of the miracle before he left Garabandal on July 5th. Why did she not do it? Was she waiting for some sign to begin spreading the news? Or did she have some other reason for hiding the time from the priest? ]

    When the apparition ended, the people from the village asked me if the Angel had told me anything about the miracle (since I had already said to the village that the Angel was going to perform a miracle) . ..

    But they didn't believe much.

    When the day came in which I had to announce the date, I told it to the village and I wrote letters .. .

    I have seen the text of some of these letters and they are similar to the one printed in the Mexican edition of Conchita's Diary:

    «A few words to tell you great news for me, and I think for you also. The Angel told me that he was going to perform a sign; and the sign is that when I receive Communion the Host will be seen on me. It is soon, during this month, on the 18th.

    For me it really doesn't seem a miracle; since I thought that they always saw it on me. Will they believe then?»

*    *    *
    This letter is dated July 6th, the day after Fr. de la Riva had left Garabandal. Four days later, Conchita wrote to Dr. Celestino Ortiz in Santander:
Ave Maria
San Sebastian,                        July 10th, 1962
Dear Doctor Celestino,

Just a few words to tell you that the Angel told me that on the 18th of this month they are going to see the Host on my tongue when I receive Communion.

Well, nothing more. Love, [The girls at this time were disposed to be friendly to everyone, especially those whom they met most frequently there.]

Conchita Gonzalez

    Mr. Ruiloba had gone up to Garabandal during those days, something that he did frequently. On saying farewell to Conchita, she gave him a letter to give personally to the Reverend Father Francisco Odriozola, the «factotum» of the Commission.

    Placido Ruiloba faithfully fulfilled what was asked of him; and he learned the contents of the letter since the recipient himself, Father Francisco, read it to him. The letter said the same as the others that we know; but it added some lines strongly requesting Father Francisco to come to Garabandal on the day foretold . . . «Don't worry and come, since even the children in the village won't recognize you.» [Because of his actions, Fr. Francisco Odriozola was well aware that the people in the village did not hold him in high esteem. Conchita is trying now to give him confidence, with the indication that sufficient time had passed so that many things would be forgotten.]

    Doctor Ortiz, after having received the letter, used his first free day to go up to Garabandal to better inform himself about what was so tersely written by the girl. He was able to converse alone with her and spoke in this way:

    — Conchita, I don't know if you understand the importance of all this. A miracle predicted for a. fixed date is a very great miracle . . .[Besides the value that the miracle might have in itself, it had another value of no less quality: that of prophecy.]

    — But to me this seems to be a very little miracle. Later the Virgin's miracle will come, and that will be a MIRACLE! Then there won't be any doubt.

    — Maybe. I just don't believe that the miracle that you mention will happen . . .

    — You don't believe? Then do me this favor. You know Father Francisco Odriozola. I've written him to come . . . But in case he hasn't received the letter, you go in person to tell him ... So that he doesn't miss coming on July 18th! He will see the miracle. I assure you that nothing will happen to him because here in the village even the little children don't know him.

    — Conchita, do you know how distasteful it is for me to tell news like this to a man whom I barely know , . , Besides, he is secretary of the Commission... And on top of everything else the village says terrible things about him, since he doesn't believe in the apparitions . . .

    — If it is distasteful for you to do what I ask, offer it up to the Virgin!

*    *    *
    As the girl sent out notices, and news spread out, and expectation increased, there was also an increase in the apprehension of some of those who were responsible. They trembled before the possibility of a new swarm of people, followed by a dismal disaster. October 18th was still fresh in their memories!

    I wrote letters.

    But Father Valentin, who doubted that the miracle would happen, told me not to write any more letters, since perhaps it might not happen.

    And there was a man in the village, Eustaquio Cuenca [It has already been said that this man was an indiano of the village, and different from the others by his better economic situation.] who told me the same thing as Father Valentin, that I shouldn't write any more letters.

    And I said to them that the Virgin and Angel had told me to predict the miracle.

    But the people of the village didn't believe it. [The attitude of firm resistance that the people of Garabandal had against the girls' phenomena has been shown enough; their hearts were too hard to believe in the truth of those things.
    On July 14th, 1962, Luis Navas set out to take down impressions throughout the village «from the greatest number of persons possible.»He spent a long time with Mari Cruz' mother who made this revealing statement: «Ibelieve my daughter when she says that she sees the Virgin; but I'm not so sure that she actually does see the Virgin.»

    In September of 1963, Jacinta's mother, Maria, said to Fr. Laffineur: «I certainly believe when I see an ecstasy; when the ecstasy is over, I don't believe anymore.»]

    As can be imagined, on the days before July 18th, which in that year fell on Wednesday — as the previously heralded October 18th had fallen on Wednesday — the influx of visitors to Garabandal began. Many set out on the way, taking advantage of the the previous weekend, and so many came on Saturday, July 14th. Among these was the attorney from Palencia, Luis Navas Carrillo, who this time came accompanied by his aged mother. All were able to assist on that same night at a long, very interesting, and moving ecstasy of Mari Loli . . . But they waited in vain for one to happen to Conchita, who never missed having one on Saturday. When they retired for sleep, it was 5 o'clock Sunday morning. And they had to get up early, since the only Mass of the day, celebrated by Fr. Valentin, had been scheduled for 9 o'clock. They could take, if they were able, a long siesta to make up for the loss of sleep at night.

    All Sunday long pilgrims continued to arrive, Luis Navas remembers that at 1 o'clock in the afternoon, while they were waiting for the beginning of the rosary in the church, the fine rain typical of the Cantabrian mountains was falling. In the village appeared a large gathering of people «who came from Cordoba and other places, also a priest from El Aaiún, [A small town on the African coast. It was the capital of Spanish Sahara.] who accidentally found himself in the neighboring village of Celis.»

    The following Monday, July 16th, had a special distinction, since it was the feastday of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Luis Navas's notes for this day read:

    «We celebrated the feastday of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but without a Mass, since the Mass on that day took place in the village of Cossio. This made me think of a Communion by the Angel. Since there was no priest to distribute Communion, it could well be expected that the Angel would come as on other occasions to give Communion to the girls.

    I went up early to the Pines; there I was enjoying the marvelous view and the pleasant temperature, since it was a sunny day . . . Looking down, I made out one of the visionaries, without being able to distinguish which one of them it was, seated in the Cuadro, together with two or three other persons. I supposed that she was waiting for Communion, and I went down in a hurry ... It was Mari Loli who was praying her morning rosary; I joined devoutly in the prayer and waited . . . Nothing happened and I went down to the village. I soon learned that Conchita hadn't gone to the Pines, as I had hoped, because she had forgotten and eaten some bread; but that she would go up a few hours later, toward one o'clock.

    We accompanied her there. Some clouds began to appear in the sky while we were waiting. We prayed a Station to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, later an entire rosary. Some birds that were flying back and forth accompanied us with their singing.

    As the clouds thickened, the sun gradually faded, as did my hope of being able to see — only one time! — the extraordinary phenomenon of the Mystical Communion about which I had heard so much said. Conchita waited standing up, sheltering herself against one of the nine pines there, protecting herself from a wet breeze that began to blow, and which was turning cold. The sky became completely overcast and the Angel didn't appear, in spite of waiting until about four in the afternoon.

    Rather disappointed, we went down to the village to eat. And I took a siesta, expecting that later, most probably, we would have to spend the night standing up.

    The rosary in the church was not at the time for holydays, but instead at nightfall, as on working days. Hardly had the girls gone outside, when Mari Loli went into ecstasy near her house, accompanied by Jacinta.»

    We are familiar with what followed since it has been repeated so many times: walks thru the streets of the village, marvelous ascents and descents on the trail to the Pines (frontwards, backwards), prayers, songs, holding out the crucifix to those present ... As almost always, the episode ended in the church courtyard, and Luis Navas tells us about the ending:

    «It was a moving scene that penetrated to the depths of my heart when the girls with angelic smiles, completely transfigured by a radiant beauty, raised themselves lightly on their toes, offering their two cheeks to the Vision's kiss. And after this, alternating, each one effortlessly lifted up the other in her arms to reach the mysterious Apparition, and again kiss and be kissed.
  Picture: [These positions, which undoubtedly were due to the Vision being elevated in front of them when they wished to reach her to give the final kiss, are seen in several photographs taken by the spectators.]

    Previously during the rosary the girls had recited the Credo; and, as was their custom whenever they prayed it in ecstasy, they added to Catholic Church the words Apostolic and Roman. In a similar way, they introduced an innovation in some final invocations. In place of saying True Apparition of Our Lady, Queen and Patron of the Montaña, they said, Our Lady and Queen of all Creation. [From the days of the holy bishop of Santander, José Eguino Trecu (t!961), there had been established in the dioscesan churches the practice of concluding the rosary with the invocation Our Lady of the True Apparition, Queen and Mother of the Montana, pray for us. This invocation was repeated three times, followed each time by a Hail Mary.
    It is due to this bishop that Mary, under the title of La Bien Aparecida (The True Apparition), was proclaimed patroness of Santander, a territory covered with Marian sanctuaries. The sanctuary of Our Lady of the True Apparition is perched on a gorgeous hill overlooking the valley of the Asón River with views of Udalia and Ampuero, and is cared for by a community of Trinitarian fathers. The statue was taken from Santander during the last years of Bishop Eguino Trecu's episcopate to be solemnly crowned in the sanctuary.]

<>    This universal title makes me feel that Our Lady is sending a call to all her children. She makes it understood that her messages here do not have a restricted or local character.»
    There was still more as the night of July 16th wore on. Navas Carrillo terminated his notes like this:

"Each one effortlessly lifted up the other in her arms to reach the musterious Apparition."

    «I came to the conclusion that mere curiosity, if it could well be the initial reason for making the trip to Garabandal, soon dissipates, since it does not have its proper place there. What is felt here brings one little by little to prayer and sacrifice, to taste the peace and serenity of this little Mount Tabor.» [Mount Tabor in Palestine is considered the mountain of Our Lord's Transfiguration, where His glory was shown to three of His apostles.]

*    *    *
    On July 17th, Tuesday, the arrival of pilgrims took on an accelerated pace, as would be expected, and everyone's thoughts were on what was going to happen on the next day . . . according to Conchita's prediction . . .

    Our lawyer from Palencia seems to have dedicated the hours of this day to reflecting on the unusual normality of the girls who for more than a year had been plunged into the daily anormality of most unsettling phenomena:

    «I spoke to the pastor of the village, and he told me that he had just received a report, completely favorable in this regard, from Doctor Ricardo Puncemau, a psychiatrist from Barcelona. This doctor had associated with the girls for several days, both individually and collectively. He had taken walks with them. He had expressed his impressions and doubts to them, which they always received with friendliness and good nature.

    My study was limited to observing them, especially when they played with the other girls. I was pleased at the way Mari Cruz fought with a girl who was bothering her. Actually, she fought with a certain mildness, and only insofar as was necessary to stop the girl's annoying attitude.

"She made repeated trips from the fields to her home, carrying enormous stacks of hay."

    In the prayers that they said in the normal state, I didn't notice anything special. I even had the impression that Conchita, for example, did not pronounce the words clearly, especially the Ave Marias, and she reminded me of some persons who pray from the pulpit as if they were in a hurry to finish. With regard to punctuality, that was not a quality that characterized them. Many times I saw them come late to church, sometimes one, sometimes another. I assisted at two of Jacinta's rosaries in the Cuadro at 6 in the morning; and besides the great sacrifice that could be supposed for a girl of her age to get up so early, her prayer had nothing special about it; frequently she opened her mouth and yawned. [As already was pointed out in another place, only those unfamiliar with the life of the spirit would be scandalized by the girls' weaknesses. A basic tenet in theology is Grace does not destroy nature. It does not destroy it, nor does it change it ... suddenly. And the condition of our nature is rather pitiful. The special graces that a soul receives (even those very special graces that could be expected in Garabandal) certainly create a necessity or requirement to change, to go on from better to better; but they do not cause it... and souls can respond with various degrees of fidelity. Some might say, If the apparitions were truly authentic, the girls, after such a long time of close contact with the Virgin, would have to be different than they are.
    Actually, the apostles were in close contact with Jesus for a longer period of time — three years — and at the hour of His death, what were they like? If anyone does not know, the Gospel tells the story.

    I do not pretend to make saints out of the visionaries since they unquestionably have many faults. I only mean to say that their real and apparent faults and weaknesses cannot be used as a proof against the ecstasies which they said they had, and which so many others were able to observe.]

    In summary, it appears that the girls, with the exception of their visions, were not distinguishable from other girls of the village, and didn't show the influence of anything that wasn't natural, something that amazed many people.

    It was the same with regard to their daily chores. I remember that one early morning we had gone to bed at 6:00 a.m. in broad daylight; and at 10:00 Maria Dolores was in church, assisting at Mass. A little later I watched as she made repeated trips from the fields to her home, carrying enormous stacks of hay on her shoulders. I was able to take pictures.

    On the evening of July 17th, I noticed that Mari Loli was missing at the rosary. When we left, her mother was walking around searching for her with a worried look. A young boy and I went up to the Pines in case she could be found there following some call; but all that was there were the nine trees, like sentinels in the night. After we returned to the village, Maria Dolores was found in the home of some friends from Aguilar de Campoo where — absorbed in conversation — the time had passed without her noticing it. Her father scolded and punished her; it hurt me to see such chagrin in that little child, the instrument which Our Lady had used to give me so many and such unmerited signs of love. But Loli must have understood her father's reasons; since if her face appeared hurt, no sign of protest or rebellion against the one exercising authority could be found on it.»

NEXT... BOOK 3 Chapter 1d - Awaiting the Hour
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