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