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
At the beginning of it all, the Virgin told the four of us — Loli, Jacinta, Mari Cruz, and myself — that:
PHOTO (Right): "The Virgin told us at the beginning."
And everything that the Virgin told ns at the beginning happened during the month of January, 1963.
And afterwards, we told oar
parents that we hadn't seen the Virgin; but that the calls and the Miracle
of the Sacred Host were true.
In my heart, I was surprised to say these things.
But my conscience was completely calm about having seen the Most Holy Virgin.
And the parish priest, Father Valentin Marichalar, gave us ten rosaries and five Our Fathers for penance.
And after we had said this, in a few days the Virgin appeared to us again
We are facing the development of the so-called denials (negations) of the girls. But more than denials or negations, we might speak of tremendous doubts or darknesses, which they were not capable of interpreting or of expressing. The whole process had been long and complicated. Its herald breeze appeared in Mari Cruz, who found herself for some time — especially after the total cessation of her ecstasies during the previous September — in a special situation. On this follows now the storm of negations in January of 1963, during which the remaining visionaries are implicated. Conchita and her two companions will soon recover from this, as we will see later on. But in August of 1966, a new tempest of confusion in the girls concerning the apparitions will blast forth.
The events will then be publicly denounced by the newly appointed Bishop Puchol, who personally disliked this affair, [Eugenio Beitia Aldazabal, who three years previously had entered the bishop's mansion at Santander, was relieved of his pastoral duties on his own request in 1965. Vicente Puchol Montis succeeded him as bishop in August, 1965. When the nomination was publicized, a Madrid canon wrote to Fr. Lucio Rodrigo of the Pontifical University at Comillas, warning him that «Garabandal had a great enemy in the new bishop», as he turned out to be. Bishop Puchol died tragically in an automobile accident on May 8th, the feast of the apparition of St. Michael the Archangel at Mount Gargano in Italy.] in a questionable «Nota» on March 17th, 1967:
«There have been no apparitions. There has been no message. All the events that happened have a natural explanations.»
As now we are relating the facts, and are still in January of 1963, I do not wish to comment on the contents of that «Nota», the circumstances that preceded its composition, or the consequences that followed it. The day will come to bring everything into the open. What I want to say here is that such a phenomenon of doubts and negations is not something exclusive to Garabandal, [For example, it is known that the venerable Father Hoyos — the Spanish Jesuit associated with the apparitions and promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus — sometime after the phenomenon had happened to him, fell into such doubts and scruples concerning the authenticity of his apparitions that he came to believe to his dismay that he was the greatest deceiver in the world, a sinner unworthy of pardon. And a similar thing happened to Bernadette Soubirous, the seer from Lourdes, during her convent life at Nevers; but the Church certainly knew how to evaluate Bernadette's double or negations, elevating her to the supreme honor of the altars, after a long process according to ecclesiastical law. I believe, referring to the masters of mystical theology, that it is not difficult to explain the contradictions of the seers at Garabandal, nor is it hard to understand what value should be attributed to them.] nor is it substantial evidence against the truth of the events.
Let us return to the first negations of the visionaries in January of 1963. It can immediately be seen that they clearly showed wavering and hesitation. The girls themselves did not understand what was happening, and were surprised by what they had said — in such contrast with what they personally felt. It could be said that a strange and mysterious force — Conchita names it: the devil — brought them to express something that did not agree with their most undeniable experiences. [We can speak also of pressures that are not attributable to the action of the devil. In the beginning of April, Luis Navas was once again at Garabandal; he was upset by this new situation, so different from what he had experienced there on previous occasions. Trying to find an explanation, he began speaking to various people; and after being with Loli, «he drew» — he said — «the conclusion that Ceferino had put pressure on his daughter when the miracle did not come in September as he expected ...» Actually, Ceferino was always one of the hardest to convince with regard to believing personally in the truth of the phenomena. Not that he did not understand them, nor that he could not explain them; but to believe in them was something different. In his case, as in the other families of the visionaries, could well be said what Jesus mentioned in his day: A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and among his own kindred, and in his own house. (Mark 6: 4)]
The priest from the seminary in San Sebastian, Father Luis Lopez Retenaga, in his third report to Bishop Beitia, gave his impressions of what he perceived in the girls during the Holy Week of 1963:
«In the face of the joke that was converted into the miracle that failed, they saw themselves pressured by their families and many people (to admit that all had been a lie). This pressure was seen by them as an argument from authority, and they fell into real doubts concerning the origin of what had happened to them . . . Conchita, in the general uncertainty and trusting in the people as knowing more than she, in spite of her internal conviction of having seen a marvelous being, ended up declaring to the pastor also that all had been a lie, except the miracle of the Host ...»
But the process had been set in motion and complications were developing internally and externally.
And Ceferino, Loli's father,
had told a commission of doctors to come; their names were Alejandro Gasea,
Felix Gallego and Celestino Ortiz. [Dr. Alejandro Gasca
was in practice at Santander; later he held an important post in the Health
Department at Saragossa. Dr. Felix Gallego was practicing at Requejada
Polanco near Torrelavega. As for Dr. Ortiz, he is already well known to
the reader. There are reasons to believe that in the answers that
the three doctors received there came out strongly the «long
standing antagonism» between the families of the visionaries
that Fr. Luis Lopex Retenaga mentioned in his report. The major attack
was, as usual, against Conchita. Some looked at her hostilely because they
believed that she had inspired or was the one principally responsible for
all this; others, because they resented her role as the leading figure.]
And on the night that they came, they began to question Mari Cruz, Jacinta and Loli, and their parents about the reason that they were saying that they weren't seeing the Virgin ...
And I don't know what they thought.
What I do know is that they said that I performed the miracle of the Host,
And they explained it their way.
Obviously they didn't know what they were saying at the time.
And they allowed themselves to he controlled by the devil.
And after that day, they didn't have any more apparitions.
I had apparitions on the same night, and until the 20th of January.
After that I didn't see her again.
As can be seen, we are in an important period concerning Garabandal. After so many months of being enveloped in light, there comes a complete eclipse, perhaps final. And it seems that the girls and their families are not without fault. Now things can return to tranquility. Now there is nothing to occupy them: neither the miracle that they were awaiting with such impatience, nor the apparitions which they formerly had so surely. There was little except the memory of what had existed . . . And the message to be fulfilled.
For Jacinta and Loli, we only know for certain that it was slightly before that, as Conchita also tells us in the same place. Examining some letters from Maximina, which Doctor Ortiz gave me, I have come to the conclusion that the last day for them was between January 8th and 16th, since in a letter dated on the 8th of January she speaks normally of the apparitions and in another, dated on January 16th, she describes a new situation.
We read on January 8th: «The miracle, which apparently was going to be so soon, is taking a long time. But don't be worried since they think the same thing. They say that it won't be delayed. The date has still not passed. Now they go very often to the Pines. Every night Conchita conies down the entire hill and a good part of the path backwards on her knees; she always goes alone now. The other two go together, holding arms. Every night that they go, they come down backwards too. Loli, you know, has an apparition every night; but she only goes outside on the nights that the other girl goes out ...»
But this painful finale cannot make us forget that 1962 was a year of wondrous marvels [There has come to us an astounding prediction. On the night of December 19th to the 20th, Wednesday to Thursday, there was something very important, according to the notes of Mr. Clapes Maymo: «Conchita had an ecstasy from 3:15 to 5:15. It began in her house. Mrs. Salisachs, Nati, her mother, and her brother Serafin were present. She went out from the house, went through the village, went up to the Cuadro and came down backwards, went to the cemetery, to the house of Mari Cruz . . . During the ecstasy she was heard to say, Mercedes (Salisachs} said that Saint Malachy had prophesied about the Popes and that only ttvo are left . . . After the ecstasy, Conchita told us the Virgin's response: After the present (John the 23rd) there were still three; after that there would be no more.»] whose marks remain in hundreds of persons who had the good fortune to see them, in many more who did not see them but who believe in them with all their heart. [Fr. Retenaga, in composing his first report on Garabandal in December of 1962, resumes the Christian scope of the phenomena: «What the girls ask of our world today in the name of the Virgin is «more prayer, more penance, more Eucharistic life.» This latter — more Eucharistic life — characterizes the second year at Garabandal, as the Marian Epiphany seemed to characterize the first year.