BOOK 3 Chapter 1d
Awaiting the Hour
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


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    This brief notation by Luis Navas Carrillo gives us an idea of the atmosphere in Garabandal on the evening of July 17th, 1962:

    «During the day, countless cars had come. The houses were full, making it very difficult to find a bed in which to sleep. Once again many people used the stables for sleeping.»
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    But many gave up their sleep in order not to miss the scenes on that night, which was almost completely occupied by vigils and ecstasies. Jacinta's came first; later, at 5:15 in the morning, with the first rays of dawn, came Mari Loli's ecstasy. She was initially at the Cuadro, and later made her way toward the church, accompanied by a group of people — Luis Navas among them:
    «I went ahead to enter the church and I saw a visiting priest, already dressed in the sacred vestments, who was getting the altar ready to say Mass. He couldn't hide the surprise that the unexpected coming of that parade caused him and began to say, Don't enter! Don't enter! As if the girl's entrance would bring upon him some grave responsibility!

    His fears ended immediately since the visionary, despite the door being open, stopped at the entrance, and falling on her knees there, came out of the trance. I remember at that time, as on other occasions after the time when the ecclesiastical authorities ordered the church doors closed during the girls' ecstasies, that they stopped at the entrance of the church, and at times were heard to whisper, Oh, what doesn 't the bishop want? They always adopted an attitude of complete obedience and submission.»

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    The day of July 18th, which began in such an unusual way, continued with a climate much different from other days. For the visitors, there was the special waiting for the miracle predicted by Conchita; for the villagers, there was the special fiesta, the big celebration of the year, when they met again with their distant relatives and friends, the day on which all the houses were full of happy people wearing their best clothes and eating lavishly. Officially the feastday was to honor St. Sebastián, patron saint of the village, who was martyred by being pierced with arrows. For some time, the feast-day had been moved from January 20th, the actual feastday of the saint, to this date in July (a holiday in Spain) in order to allow better weather and opportunity for the arrival of relatives and guests.

    «Well into the mornings» — said Luis Navas — «we assisted at a chanted high Mass, in which 3 priests officiated;[In those days the rite of concelebration had not been established. Solemn High Mass was performed by three persons: the priest who celebrated, a deacon, and a sub-deacon. It was what in the villages was called the Mass of Three, and was celebrated only on important feastdays; otherwise, the feastdays did not carry as much importance.] the sermon was preached by a friend of mine from Burgos, who was stationed in San Vicente de la Barquera. [For many years, the Heart of Mary (Claretian) fathers came to the parish church from that village on the coast of Santander. Frequently some of them traveled around to preach in the villages of the area.] It was beautiful to see so many Communions, especially with the strangers who had come for the miracle; the Hosts had to be broken into particles.»

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    At noon the festive atmosphere reached its peak. But as the afternoon hours waned, impatience and unrest began to increase among those waiting . . . Nothing was happening, nor were there any signs that something was going to happen!

    «As time passed» — wrote Luis Navas — «our restlessness grew, until it came to reach a level of actual anguish as the afternoon wore on.

    We blamed the dance [The dance was a sine qua non with the young men during the village holiday. The people at Garabandal did not know how to stop it, in spite of Conchita's announcement; and it was held, according to custom, near to her house.] as the cause of the delay, and perhaps the failure of the prodigy to take place; and full of confusion, we made a multitude of conjectures ... I personally was not asking anything for myself since I had no need of a miracle to believe in the apparitions. However it deeply grieved me that, since what had been predicted was not happening, the good opinions of countless people, principally those who had come for the first time to Garabandal. were being put down together with their faith. I couldn't forget the episode of October 18th, and at that time the girls hadn't predicted any prodigy!»

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    In order to better support his hopes during the anguishing wait, as Mr. Navas wrote:
    «I kept in my mind that days previously the visionary had addressed a letter to a priest in Santander, Father Odriozola, inviting him to be present when the Angel gave her Communion. She had foretold this fact in unmistakable terms, with firmness and absolute sureness. She didn't mention the hour, and the solar day wouldn't end until 1:20 on our watches; [For many years the official time in Spain had been 60 minutes ahead of the solar time, so as to synchronize better with the rest of Europe.] but each minute that went by increased my anxiety and made me think of what would happen with that priest whom the girl had so insistently requested to be there. Later, they told me that he had sent a representative in his place ...»
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    According to the reports made, the person sent by Father Odriozola was an attorney from Santander, Mr. R. M.[This refers to Regino Mateo, born in the land of Reinosa but residing in the Santander capital; he was a lawyer.] who comported himself in Garabandal according to the most orthodox line of the Commission:
    «Toward 5 in the afternoon, he proposed to Conchita that she stop all this . . . That he would give her the broadest pardon on behalf of the bishop . . . That if she wanted to leave for Santander, he himself would take her with great pleasure . . . The Marquis of Santa Maria, who was present there in the girl's home, couldn't contain himself and engaged in a heated argument with the lawyer, who ended up going away in bad humor.»
(A report from another witness)

    Conchita's house naturally had to be, on that evening of July 18th, the center of maximum anticipation. Whoever could get in at the time and stay in the house had to be considered definitely privileged; the priests easily obtained such privileges, as would be expected. Paquina de la Roza Velarde, the wife of Dr. Ortiz, remembers that there were present there, besides close relatives of the visionary, a young girl from Aguilar {daughter of Rafael Fontaneda); a priest from Madrid, Fr. Justo; a Franciscan, Fr. Bravo; a Jesuit from Comillas; and a Dominican priest from Asturias. This Dominican priest — Etelvino González — furnishes us information to help relive again those tense hours of July 18th.

    Weeks later, on August 10th, the new bishop of Santander, Eugenio Beitia Aldazábal, wrote to Fr. Etelvino requesting him to answer a questionnaire that he was sending him: a long questionnaire that had been composed by the secretary of the Commission. He charged Fr. Etelvino to proceed with 'the strictest secrecy', and at the same time consider 'the exceptional importance of his describing the facts objectively, with simplicity and briefness'.

    The letter was answered by Fr. Etelvino after a month delay, for which he asked pardon.

    Of the 41 questions on the questionnaire, he only answered 23, since he did not have direct knowledge on the content of the others.

    «In order to be as exact and objective as possible, I have, tried, in describing this, to limit myself to those details and facts of which I was personally a witness. I have avoided not only reporting what I merely heard, but also as much as possible, mixing my own personal opinion in this.»

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    Before beginning his answers, he confided to the bishops something that had to be his own personal opinion. He mentions . . .
    «... the unhappy impression that it made on me in seeing Conchita surrounded in her home by gifts, and circled by wealthy people who apparently came there frequently and gave the impression of having made Garabandal their domain. I wasn't the only one to lament this; among the priests and faithful this was mentioned very unfavorably, leading at times to conclusions that were definitely not favorable. Without falling to this extreme, I think that the circumstances to which I am referring prevent a clear visualization of what could be happening at the bottom of these events, which seem more and more confusing. » [What Father Etelvino speaks about is certainly lamentable, and it is not the only case to be pointed out and regretted. I am sorry to say that some of those who are considered — or consider themselves — as Garabandalistas of the first rank have done very poor service to its cause. And I am afraid that it is the same with the girls themselves and their families, at least some of them, who have not always shown sufficiently high example with regard to generosity and detachment in their actions.
    But from this, one cannot draw a decisive proof against the supernaturality of those unexplainable phenomena; but only the conclusion that, as so many times has happened in the Story of Salvation, the instruments with which God works are not always the best, nor do they immediately lose their natural tendency to fall; especially if they remain in some respects attached to their own selves. The plain people of Garabandal were immersed in phenomena that were so much beyond them. Did they not have the right to expect from their religious guides in the diocese something better and quite different from what they received? Did these guides in this case fulfill their own obligations with their aloof policies of distrust, remoteness, and partial non-intervention?]

    What this eyewitness then says — detrimentally — illustrates what was happening around Conchita on the night of July 18th, 1962.

    First question — Were you in the kitchen of Conchita's home before she went into 'rapture'?

    Answer — I passed the evening in Conchita's house, in the kitchen and principally on the second floor,[Conchita was on this same floor during almost all the afternoon of the feastday according to the testimony given by Father Etelvino Gonzalez to questions asked by the Commission. «Conchita stayed upstairs from the middle of the afternoon. In all this time, I believe that she only came down to the kitchen about two times. In her room, on whose balcony she stayed almost ail afternoon, she was accompanied by various friends whose names I do not know. Everyone played; (it is not to be forgotten that it was the afternoon of the village fiesta) but I noted in her an air as if a little absent. She laughed, she answered the questions with serenity, and wrote on holycards with an admirable facility for composition.

    During the afternoon, she was very accessible and agreeable to the priests. She even came one time to tell me, I would like the priests to be near to me, bending down (surely in respect for the Lord Whom she was expecting to receive), referring to the moment that was awaited.»] in company with several secular priests, a Franciscan priest, a Jesuit priest and a seminarian. During the time immediately prior to the rapture, I was practically absent, except for intervals.

    Second question — What was the mental attitude of the young girl?

    Answer — The general tone, during the time that I saw her, was of sureness concerning the accomplishment of the prediction and care in preparing spiritually for it; praying and making us pray; we prayed a Station to the Blessed Sacrament and two rosaries. At the same time, the girl showed herself uncertain over what should be done about a dance that had been organized in front of her home; she wanted to have the music, but indicated weakly that they should stop dancing.»

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    The dancing had a bad effect on many of those who had gone up to the village. Conchita herself reports this:

    Next to my house there was a holiday dance.

    There were the two things together: some were praying the rosary, and others were dancing. [The contrast is notable. What a strange melange men make. And what a melange there is in each man too. The task of life is to put everything in order, above all, interior order, eliminating what prevents us from going to heaven, putting everything that can bring us there in its place.]
    Some of the people wanted to stop the dancing, since they were afraid that if there were a dance, there wouldn't be a miracle.
    And at one time, a man among those who wanted to stop the dancing, Ignacio Rubio, asked me if I wanted the dancing to stop.
    I told him that, dance or no dance, the miracle would happen.
    And then they didn't discuss the dancing anymore.

    Perhaps the man whom Conchita mentions is the same person about whom we have another report:

    «A spectator, a professor from Granada, asked assistance from someone influential in the village to convince the young boys that the dancing should stop. With this assistance he went up to the boys and offered to pay the musicians to play on the next three Sundays . . .
    — Who told you this? — someone asked — Conchita?
    — Yes. (Actually Conchita hadn't said this.)
    — Let's go see — said the young boy, and taking the arm of his questioner, he went in search of the girl:
    — We are coming to see, Conchita. Did the Virgin tell you that we shouldn 't dance?
    — No. Not exactly that. You can dance, but you shouldn't offend God, Our Lord.[Here is something very important and often very difficult. Unfortunately amusements are so frequently directed to the harmful service of sensuality.]

    The young boy left satisfied, and naturally the dance continued on for some time.»

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    If the few people huddled in Conchita's house were perturbed by this, and were upset because they were waiting in vain during the final hours of July 18th, we can imagine how it must have been with those not present there who could only learn about what was happening through vague rumors. We have Luis Navas' testimony:
    «I was in the house of Mari Dolores, together with her father, the marquis of Santa Maria, a friend of his, and some other persons whom I don't remember. Someone came to tell us that one of the priests who was in Conchita's house had already gone and was leaving the village; and also that they had even locked the house. I could imagine what Conchita's mother was like, after her daughter had not had either the customary apparition on Saturday, or one on Sunday, or Communion from the Angel on Monday, July 16th, the feastday of Our Lady of Mount Carmel . . .

    Among ourselves, someone thought that if the Communion didn't take place, it could well be in order to test our faith. Others were of the opinion, on the contrary, that the cause could have been some fault of pride in the girl. And there was not lacking someone to say that he had found all these things of the miracle of the Host very strange from the beginning. But in general we resisted thinking that the visionary had made all this up to try to force the events.»

    Conchita perfectly sensed the atmosphere that surrounded her:

    When night came, the people were upset.

    But since the Angel and the Virgin had told me that the miracle would come, I had no fear, since neither the Virgin nor the Angel had ever told me that a thing would happen, and it didn't happen.

"The miracle would come."

    The tension of waiting in the circles closest to Conchita is well reflected in this detail that the wife of Doctor Ortiz gives us:

    «Everyone kept silent. Her brother, seated on the fireplace, had been dozing. Suddenly, he jumped up and said, speaking to Conchita, I can't bear this anymore. I am going to bed. You have deceived us all terribly! No one answered. Then the young boy said the same thing again and got up to leave.

    -— No! Don't go — Conchita called to him — Wait just a little longer.»

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    The girl had to feel that the moment was coming:

    At 10 at night, I had a call, and at another, and after . . .

NEXT....BOOK 3  Chapter 1e) 1:40 a.m.

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