I include this article as homage to Reverend Father Eusebio Garcia de Pesquera, now deceased (+March 24, 1996), who gave so much of his life to compile and promote the apparitions and messages of Our Lady of Garabandal, and also for his efforts to clarify these events for the Church, since for him there were no doubts. In his book SHE WENT IN HASTE TO THE MOUNTAIN, Father Pesquera describes the encounter between Pope Paul VI and Conchita in the Vatican, and the praise the Pope gave to the Garabandal happenings. The article by Father Pesquera is below.
- Maria Josefa de Gallego
In the last issue of this magazine [Father Pesquera was editor of EL SANTO], I said that now we have a precise and precious definition of the events of Garabandal (1961-1965). The complete text of this definition appears in my book, SHE WENT IN HASTE TO THE MOUNTAIN and is as follows: "It is the most beautiful story of humanity since the days of Christ. It is like a second life of the Virgin on earth. And we can never be grateful enough for it."
Photo: Pope Paul VI in the Gestatorial Chair
"Conchita, I bless you and with me the whole Church will bless you."
This second sentence is what really defines the manifestation of Mary in that little village high up in the mountains. That is what I tried to explain in that issue of my magazine. I finished my article saying that the value of this definition was of utmost importance because of the person who said it.
For a long time I wasn't sure where this had come from. I knew it was attributed to Pope Paul VI but had no proof. It was difficult to imagine the circumstance or motive under which the Pope would say such compromising words (a Roman Pontiff is the one who can least afford to speak frivolously). Now, after seeing certain papers of Mother Nieves [Mother Maria Nieves Garcia, a Sister of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, was directress of the school in Burgos that Conchita attended in 1966-67. She had several interviews with the visionary and recorded them all in a memoir. Mother Nieves and Conchita have remained good friends ever since.] things are a lot clearer.
Some years ago Father Morelos, a well known Jesuit in Madrid, wrote to his religious brother Father Lucio Rodrigo, a professor at the Pontifical University of Comillas in Cantabria, and said: "Father Escalada, a Mexican Jesuit who promotes the Garabandal messages in his country, together with the Provost General of the Company of Jesus, Father Pedro Arrupe, were received in an audience by Pope Paul VI."
Father Escalada explained his work in spreading the message of Garabandal in Mexico and the Pope encouraged him to continue saying: "These messages must be made known." When some of the Garabandal followers heard this story they wanted to have an absolute guarantee as to its authenticity. A lady from Barcelona wrote to Jesuit Father Ramon Maria Andreu who knows so much about Garabandal through his own experience. He answered from Valladolid in a letter dated April 13,1967: "Consuelo, I have received your letter and am answering it briefly by return mail. The news about Father Arrupe and Father Escalada is true. Both were with the Pope. Father Escalada asked the Pope for his permission to continue promoting Garabandal and the Pope said yes..."
Therefore, the visit with Paul VI concerning Garabandal, and his approving attitude are beyond question. But, what does any of this have to do with our definition of Garabandal? Everything, because it was precisely on this occasion, according to our information, that Paul VI, in order to encourage the Mexican Jesuit in spreading the message, said those unforgettable words: "It is the most beautiful story of humanity..."
Photo (Top): Conchita in Rome in January, 1966 with Father Luis Luna, her mother (right) and the secretary of Princess Cecile de Bourbon-Parma. Photo (Bottom): Father Pedro Arrupe; Conchita with Father Escalada in Mexico in 2002 for the canonization of Juan Diego; Professor Enrico Medi.
How could the Pope speak so knowledgeably about something so complicated? The explanation may be found in something that had happened some time before. In January 1966, Conchita had gone to Rome along with her mother and a priest from Aragon [Father Luis Luna] by direct request of the highest branches of the Holy See, at that time called the Holy Office. The Bishopric of Santander did everything possible to stop this trip, perhaps because their conscience was not at peace, considering the farce they made of their own investigation of Garabandal.
Conchita spoke for a long time behind closed door with the highest representatives of the Holy Office. We assume that they gathered from Conchita an accurate report for the Supreme Pontiff. Conchita was supposed to meet the Pope but a stubbornly hostile high functionary of the curia stopped it from happening normally, but...
Among Mother Nieves' papers we found a copy of a certain communication from "a Roman prelate" to a certain Mr. Carlier:
The Pope in the Gestatorial Chair left the hall where he had conducted the general audience. He saw, Dr. Medi (his personal physician),[Professor Enrico Medi, former Vice President of the European Atomic Energy Community was not the Pope's physician but a personal friend. His cause for beatification has been accepted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and he is now called Servant of God. During Conchita's visit to Rome she also made an excursion to see Padre Pio, a trip that was suggested and arranged by Professor Medi.] and called to him: "Professor, Professor."
Then he told the bearers of the chair "Fermi Tutti," meaning that they lower the chair and leave him. The Pope was now alone with this little group (Professor Medi, Conchita, her mother, and Father Luna). An unscheduled papal audience - stupendous!
They spoke undisturbed and Conchita was able to give the Pope a secret for himself from the Virgin Mary. This audience, supernaturally prepared and produced by the Most Holy Virgin, ends with the Pope blessing Conchita with these words: "Conchita, I bless you and with me the whole Church will bless you."
After this, the little group rushed joyfully off to go directly to the airport and return triumphantly to our beautiful and noble Spain. I believe that with all this information the Pope had sufficient data to "define" Garabandal.
Signed: Father Eusebio Garcia de Pesquera
Reprinted with kind permission from Garabandal Journal March-April 2006
Excerpted from Los MILAGROS o FAVORES DE NUESTRA MADRE DE GARABANDAL, by Maria Josefa Villa de Gallego
Translated from Spanish by Dr. Edward Serrano