A Summary of the Events, 1961 - 1965:
Has the Blessed Virgin Mary really appeared in Spain? What are the urgent messages reportedly given from the world? Is there a scientific explanation for the incredible events that took place there?
The Story of Garabandal
A Visit from an Angel
San Sebastian de Garabandal is a small hamlet of some 80 humble dwellings located in the Cantabrian Mountains of northwest Spain. On June 18, 1961, four girls (l. to r.), Mari Loli Mazon (12), Jacinta Gonzales (12), Mari Cruz Gonzales (11), and Conchita Gonzales (12) were playing on the outskirts of the village when they heard a sound like thunder. Suddenly, there stood before them a dazzling angel. He said nothing and quickly disappeared. Pale and visibly shaken, the girls ran to the village church and the apparition soon became known. Over the next twelve days the angel appeared to them several more times and then on July 1, he spoke for the first time announcing that on the following day the Blessed Virgin would appear to them as Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Our Lady Appears to the Children
News spread quickly. On July 2, many priests were among the numerous visitors who joined the villagers to witness the great event. At about 6:00 o'clock p.m., the children were headed for the spot where they had been seeing the angel when the Blessed Virgin appeared with an angel on each side. They recognized one of the angels as the one who had been appearing to them (later identified as St. Michael the Archangel). Above the Virgin was a large eye that the children thought to be the eye of God. They spoke openly and familiarly with their Heavenly Mother and said the rosary in Her presence. Over the next year and a half she would appear hundreds of times frequently appearing several times in a single day. Occasionally She was accompanied by the Infant Jesus whom She carried in her arms.
The four girls talked with the Blessed Virgin with great simplicity. They talked about their everyday life, about working in the fields, and about getting bronzed by the sun. A charming and almost disarming spontaneity marked the apparitions. In her Diary, Conchita mentions that the angel and Our Lady often smiled and laughed at their childish remarks. She says several times that the Blessed Virgin kissed them. On a few occasions when Mary came with the Infant Jesus, She allowed them to take Him in their arms. They also did simple things to amuse and please Him, such as hiding pebbles in their sleeves and in the tresses of their hair. Once, Our Lady took the crown of small golden stars from Her head and permitted the children to hold it in their hands. What is the meaning of this? Perhaps it teaches us the value of childlike simplicity and unquestioning faith.
Later, Our Lady gave the girls the two formal messages (see Our Lady's Message of Garabandal) and other messages. Many of the messages delivered by Our Lady were of a purely private nature. Some were words of enlightenment or comfort directed to people who came to the village with personal problems. Others were statements that revealed the hidden thoughts or actions of visitors, some of whom were doubting priests. The Blessed Virgin, on March 19, 1964, told Conchita that the great American apostle of Garabandal, Joey Lomangino, would recover his eyesight on the day of the great Miracle which will be worked by God at Garabandal.
Interior Calls Precede Ecstatic Raptures
The girls' visions were preceded by three interior calls (Ilamadas) each becoming stronger than the last. After the third call they would run (A) to the sunken lane where the visions first began and crashing to their knees on the jagged rocks, enter into a heavenly rapture. Their heads were thrown back, the pupils of their eyes dilated and their faces imbued with an angelic countenance. They were insensitive to pin pricks, burns, physical contact or bright spotlights shone directly into their eyes (B). Their weight factor changed so much that two grown men had great difficulty in lifting one 12-year-old girl and yet they could lift each other with the greatest of ease to offer a kiss to the Virgin (C).
Ecstatic Walks and Falls Defy Natural Laws
As the apparitions continued new phenomenon began to occur. With their heads thrown back and unable to see where they were going, the girls in ecstasy would march arm in arm (A), without the slightest difficulty either frontwards or backwards over very hazardous terrain and sometimes at a pace so rapid that onlookers running at full speed were unable to keep up with them. During these ecstatic "flights" they were able to stop instantly defying the laws of physics as the following crowd, like a speeding car trying to come to a screeching halt, would go right past them. Afterwards, the visionaries were neither out of breath nor perspiring and their pulse rates were normal.
The girls also began to make spectacular falls in ecstasy either collectively or individually. Sometimes they would fall straight backwards, stiff as a board, without bending any part of the body or using the hands to cushion the fall. The loud thud made when they hit the ground frightened onlookers but the visionaries were never hurt. From this prone position, they would rise without pushing themselves up in any way (B). In collective falls they were described by witnesses as "beautiful sculptures" and their clothing was never immodestly ruffled or indecorous.
A Jesuit Priest also Sees Our Lady and Preview of Great Miracle
One of the many priests to witness the events of Garabandal was Fr. Luis Andreu a young Jesuit theology professor from Ona, Spain. On the night of August 8, 1961, while observing the visionaries in ecstasy, Fr. Luis cried out, "MIRACLE, MIRACLE, MIRACLE, MIRACLE". On the drive home with friends later that night and into the next morning he exclaimed, "What a wonderful present the Virgin has given me! How lucky to have a mother like that in heaven....Today is the happiest day of my life!" Shortly after pronouncing these words he lowered his head and passed from this life to the next. In a subsequent vision, the Virgin told the seers that Fr. Luis had seen Her and a preview of the great Miracle and that he died of joy.
Our Lady Kisses Religious Objects
When witnesses heard that Our Lady wanted to kiss religious objects, many rosaries, medals, crucifixes and wedding rings were given to the seers to present to the Virgin (A). Often, the objects were given to the visionaries in such a way that they couldn't possibly know to whom each belonged, the articles having either been placed on a table set aside for this purpose when the seers were not present or being handed to them by persons other than the rightful owners. Yet, in ecstasy, guided by Our Lady, they never made a mistake in returning wedding rings (B) and other articles to the right person. On the Virgin's last visit to Garabandal, She told Conchita, "Through the kiss I have bestowed on these objects my Son will perform prodigies..." This promise has been fulfilled in numerous reported cures from around the world.
Miracle of the Visible Communion
To confirm the supernatural character of the events, St. Michael told Conchita that on a certain date, the invisible Communion he had been giving her would become visible on her tongue. So, in the early morning hours of July 19, 1962, she left her house in ecstasy, turned a corner, and fell to her knees in an adjacent street. As the crowd pressed around her, she put out her tongue and those just inches away affirmed that it was bare and the mouth empty. Then, faster than the eye could see, a brilliant white Host appeared on her tongue. An amateur with a movie camera a few feet away and only flashlight illumination was able to film the last few moments of the miracle. However, the greatest proof of all will be the "extremely great" Miracle for the world which Conchita speaks of in her Diary.
The Great Future Miracle
The "extremely great" Miracle which Conchita mentions in her Diary is more fully discussed in the notes she gave Francisco Sanchez-Ventura, author of The Apparition of Garabandal: "I am the only one to whom the Blessed Virgin spoke of the Miracle. She forbade me to say what it will consist of. I can't announce the date either until eight days before it is due to occur. What I can reveal is that it will coincide with an event in the Church and with the feast of a saint, martyr of the Eucharist; that it will take place at 8:30 on a Thursday evening; that it will be visible to all those who are in the village and surrounding mountains, that the sick who are present will be cured and the incredulous will believe. It will be the greatest miracle that Jesus will have performed for the world. There won't be the slightest doubt that it comes from God and that it is for the good of mankind. A sign of the Miracle, which it will be possible to film or televise, will remain forever at the pines.
On September 14, 1965, Conchita said: "The sign that will remain forever at the pines is something we will be able to photograph, televise and see, but not touch. It will be evident that it is not a thing of this world but from God." At another time, concerning the great Miracle, she added that, "it would last about 15 minutes." On August 10, 1971, while talking to a group of Americans, she offered this revealing information: "It will take place on or between the eighth and sixteenth of March, April or May. It will not happen in February or June." Eight days in advance of the Miracle Conchita will give notice to the world about its coming. Prior to the eight day notice, God will send a Warning to the entire world to purify it for the great Miracle.
In a letter dated June 2, 1965, Conchita writes: "The Blessed Virgin told me on the first of January that a Warning would be given before the Miracle so that the world might amend itself. This Warning, like the Chastisement (another prophesied event explained below), is a very fearful thing for the good as well as for the wicked. It will draw the good closer to God and it will warn the wicked that the end of time is coming and that these are the last warnings. There is more to it than this, but it can't be said by letter. No one can stop it from happening. It is certain, although I know nothing concerning the day or the date."
In another apparition, the year of the Warning was made known to Mari Loli but she has felt impelled not to reveal it.
Our Lady showed Conchita, Mari Loli and Jacinta in July of 1962, a vision of the impending Chastisement. The visionaries screamed in terror upon seeing this vision and begged Our Lady for God to spare the children. The Blessed Virgin told the girls the Chastisement was conditional on whether or not mankind would heed Her Messages given during the apparitions.
The Chastisement is mentioned only briefly by Conchita in her Diary. She describes it as something "very, very great, in keeping with what we deserve." But she advises, "if the world changes," the Chastisement can be "averted." Conchita elaborated on this event in a note to Francisco Sanchez-Ventura, "The Chastisement is conditional and depends on whether or not mankind heeds the Messages of the Blessed Virgin and the Miracle. If it should take place, I know what it will consist of because the Blessed Virgin told me about it, but I am not permitted to say what it is. Moreover, I have seen the Chastisement. I can assure you that if it comes, it is worse than being enveloped in fire, worse than having fire above and beneath you. I do not know how much time will elapse between the Miracle and the Chastisement."
The Blind Apostle and the Spread of the Message Around the World
At the age of 16, Brooklyn born Joseph Lomangino was blinded and had his olfactory nerve severed in a freak accident. He journeyed through life sightless and without a sense of smell until 1963 when his faculty for smelling was miraculously restored through the intercession of Padre Pio at San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. While there, Joey asked the famed stigmatist if Our Lady was truly appearing in Spain. When the Padre said yes, Joey went to Garabandal, was deeply impressed and decided to do what he could to tell others about it. He began with local talks in his hometown of Lindenhurst, New York. Other people came to help him. The local talks became lectures and spread to other parts of the country and overseas. An organization was established which would fulfil Our Lady's 1964 prophecy to Conchita: "The house of charity that he (Joey) will establish in New York will bring great glory to God." Garabandal promoters in other countries aligned themselves with Joey and the New York headquarters. Now the Message of Garabandal is being spread in a great number of countries on all five continents.
The Visionaries Today
Three of the four visionaries have married Americans and live in the United States. They lead exemplary Christian lives totally dedicated to their vocations as wives and mothers. Conchita has four children, Mari Loli three and Jacinta one. Mari Cruz is also married, living in Spain and has four children.
Garabandal - A Unique Event
Garabandal is unique in the history of Marian apparitions for a number of reasons:
1) The number of apparitions, somewhere in the vicinity of 2,000 is amazing.
2) The appearance and extensive use of a new means of heavenly communication (not usually encountered along with apparitions having a public message) namely the locution (an interior voice), sets Garabandal apart from Lourdes and Fatima.
3) The span of time over which the apparitions (June 18, 1961 to November 13, 1965) and locutions (June 19, 1961 to February 13, 1966) occurred, is exceptional.
4) The things announced for the future and yet to come - the Warning, the great Miracle and the permanent sign at the pines, and the conditional Chastisement - are most unusual.
5) The variety of the sites where the visions took place - in the church, at the door of the church, in homes on various streets of the village, at the pines, in the cemetery - is astonishing.
6) The time at which they took place, literally at every hour of the day and night, is quite uncommon.
7) The abundance of secondary or supporting mystical phenomena, such as the miracle of the visible Host, the Ilamadas or calls and the ecstatic marches and falls, is almost overwhelming.
8) The trials of the visionaries, the difficulties and opposition that have accompanied the events almost continually are so unusual that there does not seem to be any natural explanation for them.
9) The manner in which Garabandal has managed to overcome all obstacles and become more and more widely known and accepted is another of the almost unbelievable happenings connected with it.
10) Finally, and most important of all, this spreading of the Garabandal Message has been accompanied everywhere with an amazing explosion of grace manifested in cures, conversions and tremendous growth in love of God, of neighbor, of the Blessed Virgin and of the Eucharist on the part of both those who disseminate the Message and those who heed it.
These are what are known as the "fruits of Garabandal."