(Dr. Ricardo Puncernau was an internationally known neuropsychiatrist and professor at the University of Barcelona. He made several trips to Garabandal during the time of the apparitions and studied the girls both in ecstasy and in the normal state.)
Many interesting things happened in Garabandal. For example, the girls had ecstasies that lasted three to four hours (during which they sometimes wept); there would be a short break and then they would enter into ecstasy again for three or four more hours. This happened many times.
The girls slept little. As 12 and 13-year-olds, their parents did not spare them the hard work in the fields. They had to do this every day since their parents were very demanding. The doctors who belonged to the original commission investigating Garabandal had said: "This won't last long. The girls won't be able to go without sleeping, working hard every day in the fields, running up and down the hill to the Pines and being in ecstasy." Nevertheless, I can affirm that in Garabandal the healthiest girls physically and psychically were the girls who were having the visions.
I studied their characters and personalities using tests, and living in the town in close contact with them. They were normal and playful children who never put on any airs of sanctity. But the character of the children was not normal; they enjoyed such peace, tranquility and calm, that it could be called supernormal.
Many times they fell into ecstasy after everyone was gone. They were not trying to impress anyone, make a theatrical production, or be treated as special; this was simply a phenomenon that happened to them, and after it was over they returned to their normal state - or supernormal, as I have already said. The girls of Garabandal were in this sense perfect.
Trying to get information from them about the apparitions was like trying to wrestle a cork out of a bottle. And if you kept insisting, "What's the Virgin like? What did the Virgin tell you?" they would give a very short precise answer. They did not voluntarily start talking about the apparitions but they were more at ease talking about them with priests. Anyone else had to pry it out of them expending much effort in the process.
I must say that Garabandal was extraordinary for all the different states present there. For example:
1. State of Trance
This has been captured on film and photographs, and I was there and am a witness to it all. In this state the girls appeared to be unable to feel pain. The flashes of photographic cameras did not disturb them. A loud noise near them did not alter their state. Pricks with needles did not produce any reaction.
2. Muscle Tone
Their muscle tone changed during the ecstasies. They became like marble statues, hard, cold and strong, yet during the ecstasies they could lift each other with amazing ease. In one well known case, Mari Loli's hand grabbed a glowing light bulb. The people around her, afraid that she would burn herself, tried to pry it out of her hand but were unable to do so. They called one of the girls not in ecstasy at the time, and she was able to gently remove it. This ability to pass from a totally rigid musculature to complete relaxation was noteworthy.
Photo: Dr. Puncernau between Mari Cruz, left, and Mari Loli. His daughter is on the right.
3. Absence of Fatigue
Another state was the total absence of fatigue. The ecstasies came at different times and the girls had nothing to do with the timing in which they came. I'd be talking with them and they would say, "We've had a first call," then later, "We've had a second call." As I continued visiting with them and they would be telling me a very interesting story, suddenly in the middle of a word they would fall to their knees with a loud thud. This was very interesting to me as the trances arrived when they arrived and not when the girls wanted.
There was a time when Mari Cruz was not having ecstasies, and another time Jacinta became ill from not seeing the Virgin. They wanted intensely to see the Virgin but could not. This speaks in favor of the girls not being able to voluntarily produce the ecstasy, neither consciously nor subconsciously, as would happen in a neurosis "dérica." The visions came to the girls when they least expected them.
Of course, there are so many other things to mention, however there is one other marvelous detail that I would like to emphasize. The girls in ecstatic trance were stiff, yet they would change expressions from sad to smiling. Four girls not paying attention to each other would instantly change their expressions from a pathetic sadness to a merry smile. This is proof that this was not a game they planned.
I have spoken about these events of Garabandal to the Doctor's College of Barcelona, to the Hospital Clinic and to the Medico-Pharmaceutical Brotherhood, to the Sts. Cosmos and Damian Brotherhood, to the Hypnosis and Parapsychology Society and many other places with many other medical doctors. Generally they listen very closely, but there is one thing I keep emphasizing. Anyone by just looking at the pictures of the girls in ecstasy must ask, What is this? There is no neuropsychiatric illness that can account for this phenomenon and there is no explanation.
Signed: Ricardo Puncernau
Reprinted with kind permission from Garabandal Journal May-June 2004