BOOK 3 Chapter 3b)
Mysterious Monotony
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

*    *    *

    During the whole month of August, 1962, the second August at Garabandal during the apparitions, the marvelous and upsetting monotony continued.

    The monotony consisted in what was occurring there, what had never occurred anywhere else: ecstasies, prayers, inimitable songs, walks of an astounding grace and agility [There are numerous testimonies about the amazing mobility during the ecstatic marches. Jose Luis Gonzalez Quevedo, born in Santander and for many years a resident of New York, went several times to see the ecstasies during the first summer of the events in 1961. He waa so impressed that he cannot forget what he experienced there in spite of the long time that has since passed.

    On one afternoon he was accompanying Conchita in ecstasy. Suddenly the girl rushed forward like a flash in a direction that would have taken her straight to a crash against a wall he saw in the background. This man, who was then young and athletic, raced after her to catch her and stop her in time; but he could not reach her, nor was his intervention necessary. He told me: «When there were only a few centimeters left before smashing and hurting herself against the wall, the girl, who couldn't see ahead of her because of the position of her head, stopped abruptly, unexplainably. And I arrived in time to see her smiling broadly with a marvelous expression ... It was something that I could never forget.»] to the Pines, to the graveyard, thru the streets of the village, around the church . . .

    Fr. Valentin's notes and other people's reports narrate essentially the same thing throughout the month of August. But from time to time came forth an interesting and revealing point. For example:

    «August 18th. During an apparition on that day, Saturday, Conchita said to the Virgin, You pray very much! To Whom do you pray? . . . To Jesus? You pray to Him? . . . Even though He is your Son! Why? . . . Who is God? [We have another response here in anticipation of the deviations and errors that were then secretly developing with regard to the Faith, and which only after the Council would come into the open concerning a dogma so fundamental to Christianity as the Divinity of Christ. The Holy See finally had to intervene — perhaps somewhat too late — with a document from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, published in March of 1972. As in so many other matters, also in regard to the Divinity of Christ, the new theologies of today have succeeded in repopularizing the old heresies.] . . . Oh! Only one God.

    She said too: Why don't you let Mari Cruz see you? See how sad she is! Be with me half the time and with Mari Crux the other half.»

    But I do not want to pass over a letter that Max-imina Gonzalez wrote to Dr. Ortiz on the following Sunday, which is dated simply August, 1962: [By one of Maximina's letters to the Pifarres in Barcelona, we can situate the date since it is dated «Monday, August 20», and begins like this: «Asuncion, if you could have seen what happened last night.!»]

    «... I didn't hear it personally, but some of those who were there heard it, among them a priest. And it was on one of those nights that Conchita came to my home, where 1 was lodging some people from Catalana [Maximina used to provide lodging in her home for the visitors to Garabandal. This time she over-committed herself to such a point that there were no beds left for her own daughter and son to sleep in.]. My children were sleeping on a mattress laid on the floor, and I had put chairs around it so that no one would see them like this. Conchita came in ecstasy and went into the downstairs rooms and made the sign of the cross over the beds. And then she went where some children of the people from Catalana were sleeping and she gave them the crucifix to kiss.

    Then Conchita left; but she stopped on the stairway and said a few things. And later she let out a laugh and turned around and went straight toward where I had hidden my children. (I was perspiring with dread that they would be seen on the floor like that.) She made her way through the chairs and fell on her knees next to the children. She spoke for a while and at that time she was heard to say, Oh! So he is going to be a priest?

    And she gave the cross to both of them, but to the little boy she made a cross at his feet ----- only the little boy.

    I mentioned this yesterday, Saturday, to a missionary priest from Bilbao who was in my home for a while. And he told me that the cross that Conchita made at the feet of the little boy was something very mysterious . . . [I do not understand the explanation of the missionary father (who surely was the Claretian that Father Valentin mentions in his notes, since those of the congregation founded by St. Anthony Claret are officially called Missionary Sons of the Heart of Mary). But it well might be related to the ancient words of Isaiah (52: 7), repeated later by Nahum (2: 1). and finally applied by St. Paul (Romans 10: 15) to the Church and the preachers of the Gospel, to the traveling missionaries: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things.] I don't know how he explained it to me, but I'm very happy. Fr. Luis Retenaga prayed for the child and blessed him many times; and it could be that the Virgin heard him, since my son from his youth has been saying that he wants to be a priest. May God will it! May he be a good one. [This desire of a good Christian mother like Maximina is understandable; and also her concern for his being good, for there is nothing more lamentable than a priest unfaithful to his calling. The boy to whom this refers, Pepe Luis, after starting his studies at the seminary near to Fr. Retenaga in Renteria (Guipuzcoa), continued for some years at Comillas (Santander). After this, prior to being ordained, he did leave the seminary. During his first Christmas vacation in 1964, his cousin Conchita wrote him a beautiful prayer entitled The Prayer of a Young Seminarian. The students in our seminaries today could be inspired by the letter and the spirit of this prayer.]

    Today, Sunday, Conchita and Loll fell into ecstasy on going out from the rosary, which was at night. [Normally the rosary was said on Sundays at an hour different from the weekdays, when it was recited at nightfall after the people had returned from work. On Sundays it was said at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Maximina notes this; and she should know, since she was the one who ordinarily led it.] They walked like this for some time. Jacinta and Mari Cruz walked by themselves since they went into ecstasy a little later. And afterwards the four joined together, went up together to the Pines, and came down backwards. If you could have seen how they descended through the worst paths! It was very dark. Everyone was coming down with great difficulty, while they came down without stumbling. They walked through the entire village backwards, praying two rosaries. It lasted a long time. Last night Mari Cruz' ecstasy lasted a very long time; they said about two and a half hours. »

    We have some brief notes from Fr. Valentin that complement those of Luis Navas and Maximina Gonzalez, helping us to re-create better in our minds the atmosphere at Garabandal during the early part of August, 1962:

    «August 22nd. The four fell into ecstasy; first Loli and Conchita; afterwards, Jacinta; and finally, Mari Cruz. The latter, on coming down from the Pines, went to the house of Daniela (who was in bed, with her leg in bad condition, impossible for her to walk). And she gave the crucifix to her to kiss. Daniela jumped from the bed and said that she was cured. I think that there was some suggestion, but she jumped up and went up the stairs as if she had nothing wrong. We will see what happens tomorrow.»
    Fr. Valentin did not hide his disbelief that this was really a miraculous cure. However Fr. de la Riva added to the words of the Garabandal pastor some words of his own:
    «I was at the village, and I heard the joyful shouts of the people who had seen what had happened, and were discussing it as if it were a miracle. I was able to see later that there was no natural explanation for what happened. Daniela went to have an x-ray taken of herself and a complete cure was reported. She is now married and has children, which wouldn't have been possible with the disease she had in her hip.»
    As the month was about to end, on Wednesday, August 29th, something occurred that seems very important, although Fr. Valentin dispatches it in a few words:
    «Loli had an apparition in her home at 5:30. She gave the articles to the Vision to be kissed. An Anglican woman was very much moved. [The Anglican Church originated in the 16th century during the rise of Protestantism when Henry VIII, king of England, broke away from the Papacy in Rome. The Anglican Church was imposed with force as the official religion, and although it had its hierarchy and ecclesiastical organization, it recognized the king as its supreme head.] She wanted to be baptized.» [Meaning with the Catholic rite, since it is supposed that she had already been baptized in the Anglican Church.]
*    *    *
    The visitors to Garabandal were numerous during the month of August, since it is a vacation month and the Santander area is a traditional resort area during the summertime.

    We know from Fr. Valentin, for example, that on August 8th, besides the two priests from San Sebastian previously mentioned, there were many people from Asturias in the village. On the 12th there were two Monsignors from Oviedo: Monsig-nor Novalin and Monsigner Rafael Somohano. On the 15th, feast of the Assumption, an Augustinian and a Franciscan priest and two nuns were there; on the 16th, three priests from Palencia; on the 17th, 200 visitors, among whom were the son of Carrero Blanco (the Spanish Vice-president), another son of the mayor of Madrid, Count Santa Marta de Babio, two religious brothers of Martin Artajo, Mr. Alberto, secretary of the Attorney General and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Javier, who held a high position in the prestigious Editorial Catolica.

    Among the many qualified visitors in Garaban-dal during those days, we have to single out the pastor from Barro, Fr. de la Riva. His stay was a long one and he sought to use all his time to the maximum. A page from his Memorias tells us his experiences during those days:

    «I went down every day to Cossio to celebrate the Mass. [In order to dissuade priests from going to Garabandal, they were not permitted to celebrate Mass in the village church; and we know how difficult was the road to Cossio.] Then I would go back up to the village again and ask where I could find the young seer that I wanted to see. Then I took the road leading to the pasture where she was working. [These stables were generally a long way from the village and reached by steep and difficult trails.] In the evening I returned to the village.

    At nightfall there was the rosary in the church, then the apparitions, frequently very lengthy. All this greatly exhausted me.»

    This exhaustion that was wearing him down led him one afternoon, perhaps on August 11th, [I name this date since according to the notes of Fr. Valentin there were three seminarians in the village on this day. Fr. de la Riva, who gives no date in his report says nevertheless: «I asked a seminarian from Balboa . . .»] Saturday, to refrain from accompanying the visionaries in their ecstatic marches. On going outside after the rosary, instead of following Jacinta who was marching at the time through the village in a trance, he accompanied the girl's mother to her home and there began to eat dinner. After dinner, with its anecdotes of the apparitions, Fr. de la Riva went to Maximina's home where he was lodging and went to bed.

    «I was a little sad» — he said — «for not having gone to the apparitions that day like the other villagers and the visitors ... In a brief prayer before going to bed, I asked the Virgin to give me a sign that she wasn't angry with me for not going to the apparitions after the rosary. And I fell asleep like a log.

    After several hours, I heard someone running and the voice of Nandin (Fernando, Loli's brother) saying, Maximina, open up! Loli is here. 1 turned on the light, looked at my watch, and saw that it was a quarter to four in the morning. I said to myself, It has to be almost an hour that Loli is in ecstasy. [The seminarian told Father de la Riva that Loli had predicted an apparition for 3 o'clock.]

    In the meantime, people were knocking at the door of my room. I sat up quickly on the bed and said, Come in. The door opened with a bang and Loli appeared in ecstasy. She fell on her knees and began to crawl on them, little by little, toward the wall that was facing me. This made me greatly wonder since I still didn't know that, when the girls visited the homes in ecstasy, almost the first thing that they did was to pray for the departed from the family. On the wall in front of me was a large photograph of Maximina and her husband who had been dead for years. Kneeling under the photograph, Loli prayed for some time.

    Then she pivoted and on her knees went toward my bed. With the crucifix that she held in her hand, she first made the sign of the cross over the pillow, and then she put it on my lips while smiling. She continued smiling, turned around and began to make her way toward the door, still on her knees. When she came to the doorway, she stood up and went out that way.

    Then I said to myself, The Virgin is in the village . . . and you are still in bed! I dressed quickly and ran toward the church. On passing by Loli's house, I noticed that the girl was in the kitchen still in ecstasy.»

"Loli appeared in ecstasy".

    Naturally Fr. de la Riva went inside, and soon became aware that the girl was then speaking about what had happened in Maximina's house.

    After the ecstasy, there were two questions: the first, to find out why the trance had begun much later than the hour predicted (which had been at 3:00 A.M.); and the second, to explain the reason why Loli went unexpectedly to Maximina's house.

    Loli answered the first question by saying that «The Virgin wanted to show her displeasure this way», because on that night some women had joked about the apparitions. They had asked the girl if the Virgin painted her nails, if she combed her hair, if she wore a bracelet . . .

    No one could answer the second question adequately. Ceferino could only say that his daughter, without his understanding the reason, «immediately on being in ecstasy, at about 3:45 in the morning, had gone running toward Maximina's house.»

    «Then I was aware» — declared Fr. de la Riva — «that the Virgin had deigned to hear my petition, giving me the sign that I had requested.»

    And the proof was not for his benefit alone.

NEXT Chapter 3-03c) The Eucharist in the Forefront