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 Miracle of the Host left marks in people's minds, and a trail of changes in their lives.
Some were more suspicious than ever about Garabandal. (We have already seen the opinion that the Commission made.) Conversely, others believed more than ever in it.
Now for the first time, or at least with an intensity previously unknown, a regrettable thing came about. The village divided into opposing opinions. Hostility, even antagonism, developed between the parents of the visionaries.
Explosion of Opinions
During the trip to Torrelavega, we were of course exchanging opinions about all that had happened. I was preoccupied with the tremendous effect that the apparitions had made on my mother, and I tried to convince her that she shouldn't get so worked up and heated in defending their credibility. Nevertheless, I felt a joy in seeing her stirred so much, telling about the many things that had left a mark in her heart, an old heart of 70 years, but which still maintained its good sense. Listening to her, tears filled our eyes, for she spoke in words favorable toward everything that she had seen and heard. And who can resist the person who lives and breathes what he says?
Loli's father was waiting for me at the Hostal Gloria in Torrelavega. We stayed for dinner and returned together to the village. There we met the pastor, Father Valentin, who was going to Santander to report to the bishop everything that had happened on the previous day.
We got back at nightfall in sufficient time to be present at the first apparition, the only one of the day, which was his daughter's . . . She kept us up until after 4:30 in the morning . . . And at six o'clock, when I had barely fallen asleep, Jacinta's father called me to pray the rosary at the calleja. The girl was waiting there, seated on the rocks. We prayed the rosary in silence and solitude. And then we went to the church, in front of whose doors, still locked, we said the prayers for a Visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Then I understood the sacrifice that was entailed for a girl like Jacinta to get up every day at six in the morning to go to the cuadro and pray the first rosary of the day there. Although in the beginning this had been a command from the Virgin, it had not been commanded for months, and still the girl continued coming just to please the Blue and White Lady.»
During the day, while discussing with the people her unfulfilled hope of receiving Communion that day from the hands of the Angel, Conchita said: How unfortunate that the Angel didn't come! And responding to people about the reason for her receiving Communion more frequently than the others, she replied, Because I'm the worst of all. They told me that this answer was given to her by the Angel when the girl had insisted on knowing the reason for the difference.
PHOTO: "I'm the worst of all."
On July 21st, Saturday, when we had barely slept an hour, Jacinta's father woke me up again by knocking on the window of my room. It was getting to be 6:00 o'clock and the girl was going to the cuadro to pray the customary dawn rosary. We also went there, accompanied by an old woman. We found Jacinta seated; she had placed some paper on top of the rocks to avoid the wetness from the heavy rainfall.
As on the previous day, we went to the church after finishing the rosary. In the courtyard we prayed a Visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament ...»
Toward the end, when she began
giving back the chains and medals, she noticed that she had dropped a medal.
She asked the Vision about it and was astonished at the response she received,
since she was heard to say, But how could I lose it near the church
if I haven't gone out of the house? After the ecstasy she was also
astonished in seeing us all perspiring, while she had no sign of exertion
or fatigue. And the affair had lasted until 4:30 in the morning! We went
to bed happy since the Virgin had presented us a night which for me was
happier and richer in the interior life than July 18th itself.»
[Dr. Puncernau writes in his pamphlet about another
night at Garabandal: «I went
out on the streets. It was a cold, starry night. For a person from Barcelona,
the stars shone with unusual brilliance. I thought that
the Mother of Heaven truly watched over and protected with open arms the
inhabitants and visitors at Garabandal. Passing thru
the dark and lonely streets of the village, I also had the feeling of being
protected. Inspite of the
masses of people who came to Garabandal, no unpleasant accident ever occurred
that I know about.»]
PHOTO: "Jacinta, a timid girl, soon showed herself harsh."
While Jacinta was stating the remarks that were running thru the village concerning the disputed Communion of the Angel, she gave me the impression that she was identifying with those remarks, or at least partially accepted them, since she took on a very personal tone in what she said. Loli hardly opened her mouth. Mari Cruz enclosed herself in her habitual silence. And Conchita merely smiled before these absurdities reflecting the bad disposition and bitterness of ignorant people inclined to suspicion. And all this, even though some of the villagers had been able to be present up close to the Communion, not leaving them room for doubt.
It pained me that these open cracks in the friendship between the families of the visionaries existed, and were coming to the surface like this, and that they were also having an effect on the girls themselves. Several times I mentioned in the houses there that the Virgin wanted the four girls to be united, and that they couldn't be separated . . .
They were humanizing the realm of the supernatural that was rising up from the apparitions with proofs and signs more evident each day. This made me remember the scene of the Gospel in which the mother of the sons of Zebedee asked Christ to reserve the first two places in His kingdom for her sons. Here also, each family was endeavoring to make their daughter stand out as if distinguished by special signs as proof of the predilection of the Vision and the people for her. Perhaps Jacinta was irritated by the distinction that this supposed for Conchita, if the event of the miraculous Communion is regarded with the eyes of the flesh, and not those of the spirit and faith.»
This episode is revealing, not only for showing the atmosphere existing in the village after that memorable day, but also for illustrating once again the co-existence of high divine gifts with low human weaknesses. These must displease God; but He has infinite patience, waiting for souls to overcome their faults.
The multitude of supernatural favors that the visionaries at Garabandal received from God did not substantially change their human nature, strongly influenced by the bad inclinations that we call vices or capital sins. Their failures should have urged them to a moral fight against their inclinations. The girls were certainly not free from them, and outflows of their weak human nature would inexorably appear on more than one occasion.
We should not then be surprised that a certain feeling of envy was shown with regard to the marked distinction that Conchita had on July 18th. And making it worse were the parents' village rivalries and their neighbors' vicious comments.
On Monday, July 23rd, writes Luis Navas:
Jacinta arrived shortly afterwards, and Mari Loli told her about the Communion. My attention was drawn when Jacinta didn't answer and continued into the interior of the store in search of bread, leaving her best friend deserted.»
I have been informed of another very meaningful episode that occurred some time later. Loli's newest little brother had just been born. One day she fell into ecstasy near to him, and was heard to speak about him, showing astonishment at one time. How? So very tittle and already in mortal sin?
She didn't put the crucifix on his lips until the child was baptized. [Once again Garabandal conies ahead of its time to indicate deviations that would soon show themselves openly in the Church. And today no one can be unaware — just a few years after Loli's ecstasy — what at that time only the most learned could have perceived: the attack by the new theology on the old Christian dogma concerning original sin. This attack has not stopped in spite of the unequivocal words of Paul VI that proclaimed again in the Credo of the People of God (June 29th, 1968) what has always been believed by the Roman Catholic Church about original sin.]
One day the girls, speaking about the sins that most offend'God, put in second place those that were committed in marriage. They used words whose significance was certainly beyond their rudimentary education.»
I felt a burning desire (and I petitioned the Mother of God and Our Mother many times) to be truly good, not halfway; for example, correcting my brusqueness, my stubbornness, my obstinacy, which together with a frankness that is sometimes excessive, are the origin of much discourtesy and many disagreements. Trying to defend the truth, I haven't always been charitable. And I need to be convinced that, if charity is given, sanctity is earned.»
It would be magnificent if every pilgrimage to Garabandal produced the same effects!
Leafing through a mixed-up stack of references and testimonies referring to this time, I found this statement from Maria Herrero de Gallardo, who wrote down what she heard from Father Valentin months later:
For example, I remember the feastday of St. James the Apostle. It was almost midnight and about twenty people were watching the girls' ecstasy. At times I looked at the sky, a beautiful summer sky covered with stars, with here and there a little white cloud drifting by. Suddenly — I saw this with my own eyes, and the persons that I mentioned also saw it — our patron St. James appeared on a beautiful white horse, like the tradition described in Spanish history. For a few minutes he seemed to make a path across the sky, disappearing at times behind white clouds and reappearing again. It was really wonderful.»