A PRIEST WITNESS
Letters of the Garabandal Confraternity: Part 11
Reprinted with kind permission from GARABANDAL JOURNAL March-April 2008
Translated from Spanish by Dr. Edward Serrano
Letter dated July 10, 1962, from Father Eliseo Buedo de Hier, C.P., Superior of a Passionist Monastery in Barcelona, to Father Valentin Marichalar, Pastor of San Sebastian de Garabandal.
Above: Mari Loli in ecstasy kneeling by a table in her house where religious articles were placed
I'm very happy to answer your request, and send you my impressions of the events I witnessed in Garabandal. There is no change in what I'm writing and what I have already told you, but I'm more than happy to do it. You deserve everything, and I have the consolation of knowing that writing this down may help confirm the faith in some doubting soul and at the same time help spread the message of the Most Holy Virgin.
These are my impressions, not a study. I'll describe what I saw and then give my opinion. To start with, two facts greatly struck me: the girls' faces change as they go into ecstasy, and there's a frightening thud as they fall to their knees. Their faces change to a celestial calm and reflect a purity not of this world.
(Father Buedo's account of the visionaries falling to their knees in ecstasy and their ecstatic marches appear in the September-October 2007 edition of Garabandal Journal.)
Twice they raised me from the floor where I was kneeling. In my presence they also lifted the Father Prior of the Carmelite priests in Burgos, and I saw Mari Loli easily lift a youth from Jerez de la Frontera accompanying us who weighed 200 pounds. Mari Loli's father invited me to raise her from the ground while she was in ecstasy at the doorway of the church, and using all my strength I could only lift her an inch and a half.
In one of these marches Mari Loli lost a slipper. We felt pity for her and tried to put it back on her foot. We failed. We couldn't lift her or her foot. In the presence of many bystanders, the pastor from Portugalete tried to lift Conchita from the ground after she had fallen on her knees in ecstasy. He could not lift her at all.
Another phenomenon that surprised me was how Mari Loli found a lost wedding ring. A lady from Barcelona had left her wedding ring with her husband's, in the kitchen of Mari Loli's house, to be offered to the Virgin to kiss during the next ecstasy. Mentally the woman had asked for a special grace, and as a proof that this grace was going to be granted she wanted the girl to return her husband's wedding ring to him, but not return hers to her.
Mari Loli entered into ecstasy and picked up the crucifix and the lady's ring and went outside to join the other girls who were also in ecstasy. It was the evening of the feast of the Visitation and all four girls received a visit from the Virgin. Twice we climbed with them to the Pines praying and singing the rosary. Mari Loli returned to her house still in ecstasy, and in the kitchen she offered several objects to the Virgin to be kissed. Very graciously she returned the wedding ring to the lady's husband and then came out of ecstasy at midnight. The lady asked for her wedding ring, and Mari Loli, somewhat embarrassed said, "Oh, I lost it, but don't worry, the Virgin will return tonight and I'll ask her where it is and we'll go look for it."
Around 4:00 A.M., Mari Loli went into ecstasy and the first thing she asked, and we all heard her, was, 'Where is the ring? I have to find it tonight." At 4:30 a.m., the ecstasy ended. The girl said the wedding ring was in the cuadro (a corral set up in the lane to protect the visionaries from the crowd), some 1,500 feet from the place where she came out of the second trance. The lady's husband and I accompanied her in the search. All three of us had flashlights. I walked slightly ahead of them as we conversed along the way.
When we arrived at the cuadro, Loli said, "It has to be here. It's where the Virgin said it was." She turned on her flashlight and bent forward, illuminating the area and said, "Here it is." I approached the spot and, wanting to investigate, asked her not to touch it. Sure enough, there it was! Between big rocks, (the first place Mari Loli looked) in the little circle of light was the wedding ring lightly covered by grass. More than a hundred people had walked over that area during the previous trance, loosening stones and causing some to roll downhill. The ring, logically, should have been buried under them.
A young lady who came with us gave Conchita a list of petitions to be presented to the Virgin. When Conchita went into ecstasy, she did so. Returning to normal, she showed the list to the girl, saying, "The Virgin did not answer this or this or this; this one she answered." One of the petitions not answered referred to a person who, given the circumstances, did not want to be identified by anyone who might read it. So, the young lady had written the initials of this person in the Russian alphabet. After the ecstasy Conchita wrote the person's initials in letters of the Spanish alphabet, and added the initial of the nickname of the person, the subject of the petition. So well was the secret guarded by the young lady that only on the way to Barcelona, via Cosio, did she tell us about it.
The night we arrived in Garabandal we followed Mari Loli in one of her ecstasies. She went to the house where Mercedes Salisachs and her daughter Guiomar were staying. They were not there, but were visiting Conchita. Mari Loli knocked on the door, went inside to the second floor and blessed the beds (see page 10). Guiomar's room had two beds, and Loli blessed only Guiomar's bed and left the room, laughing sweetly. The other bed was not being used by anyone.
In one of the ecstasies, Conchita offered the Virgin one of my rosaries to be kissed. Thinking that she would come after me to give it back, I took advantage of a moment when her back was turned to disappear up the stairs. Still in ecstasy, she arose from her kneeling position and with her hand holding the crucifix in front of her, she climbed the stairs. She then gave me the crucifix to kiss and returned my rosary. It was not possible for her to know where I was hiding.
On another occasion I placed four rosaries on top of the table in Mari Loli's house. They were brand new and even I wasn't familiar with them. Before the ecstasy she asked who they belonged to and only received evasive answers. Shortly after she entered into ecstasy, she gave all the rosaries to the Virgin to be kissed and then piled them all back on the table. Without taking her eyes from the Vision she picked out my four rosaries from all the others, brought them and the crucifix to me where I had hidden myself around a corner of the kitchen behind all the people. Without the slightest hesitation she offered me the crucifix to kiss and gave me my four rosaries.
One of our companions asked mentally that the girl in ecstasy offer her the crucifix to kiss. On the spot the girl turned around and came and offered her and another person the crucifix. This was the first time this person had been offered it.
ABOVE: When they were done with all their chores their favorite game was playing with a ball.
I found the change that came over the girls very impressive. In their normal state they were happy and full of innocent humor without the slightest trace of mysticism. But in ecstasy they were celestially transformed. Their faces and manners inspired holy respect and devotion, and sometimes even consoling tears. Absolute beauty imbued all their movements, and angelical modesty all their postures. About this I have to add something else. The four girls came down from the Pines walking backwards with their arms interlocked and looking straight up to heaven when they bumped into a large rock. They all stumbled and Mari Loli fell over backwards, without changing the position of her head or her expression. Astonishingly, there she was, head down, her arms still entwined with the other girls' arms, but her skirt never went above her knees. Neither in falling down nor getting up was there the the slightest lack of angelic modesty.
Everything about the girls and the phenomena breathed profound peace, a peace that followed us for several days and many kilometers from that dear village. Other people I talked to there said the same thing.
I was taken by the human aspect of the children, so friendly, with an engaging sense of humor when out of ecstasy; we felt happy being near them. Their kindness is all-encompassing, enchanting and intelligent. We followed them as they went to work in the fields. We accompanied them as they ate their lunch. They had good appetites and were very generous. They felt they couldn't do enough for us. When they were done with all their chores their favorite game was playing with a ball. They give the impression of health of body and soul.
Their intelligence was very sharp, their thoughts quick and precise. I tested them thoroughly.
People who had known the girls before all this started told me they were totally normal, with profound piety and innocence. I believe this aspect of their lives is a reflection of the virtues of all the Garabandal inhabitants; honest, charitable, prudent, intelligent, discrete, and very strong, mentally and physically.
I visited with a group of boys who were resting after the work of the day and waiting for the apparitions. I was impressed by them and they inspired my respect. They told me how they go out looking for work as far as Galicia. (They're strong boys and somewhat adventurous, not inclined to mysticism at all.) They told me about biting their tongues and hiding their fury when people in other places make fun of their "little ones." They love them and defend them.
They said, "It would be a sin not to believe," (their own words) and when someone makes fun of what is happening in Garabandal, " We prefer to keep quiet. That way we don't have to start throwing punches." I find great humility in them, which is a reflection of the humility that reigns in Garabandal. I perceive strong willpower in the boys and in Conchita absolute acceptance of whatever happens. By mistake we thought the Virgin was not going to appear that night, even though Conchita had said she would come. "We're going now, Conchita. The Virgin isn't coming, and Mari Loli is going to have a vision now." She laughed a little and said, "Very well." She was almost alone when the Virgin actually came and found her just as happy as when the kitchen was full of devout people.
I confess that a brief thought occurred to me—which I am thoroughly ashamed of—that all this could be a fraud, or hysterics, or hypnosis, or diabolic intervention. Holy Church will have the last word in this. Meanwhile I have kept my eyes open, as have many others, and I have followed these events and observed the children consistently. Perhaps others have equaled me in this, but only with difficulty could they have done more.
The families of the children and some young men that protected them during their marches were very kind to me, enabling me to be close to the girls while they were in ecstasy. For four nights I heard their dialogues with the Virgin. I believe Mercedes Salisachs and I were the only ones who heard Conchita ask the Virgin for "the little miracle," the one the Virgin promised when the angel gave them the Host.
I accompanied the girls frequently during the daytime and constantly during the four nights. I found only peace, spiritual happiness, simplicity, desire to love God and the Virgin, great trust in Our Lady, and an ardent desire to be a more fervent devotee. I have learned a form of praying with simplicity, imitating the dialogues that the girls have with the Virgin. The Holy Mass and the Eucharist appear more living realities. I believe that few leave Garabandal without feeling a strong attraction for penance, taken on for themselves personally and for everyone.
Reprinted with kind permission from GARABANDAL JOURNAL March-April 2008
Translated from Spanish by Dr. Edward Serrano
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