Father Ramon Andreu's niece remembers her uncle and her own experiences in Garabandal
My memories of Garabandal are very clear, in spite of my being 56 years old now [she was 13 when she first went to the village]. Garabandal left an impression on me difficult to describe.
The first time I went there was after the death of my uncle (Father Luis Maria Andreu). My parents, Uncle Ramón and I were accompanied by the Fontaneda family. They are the family my uncle Luis was traveling with the night he died as they returned from the village.
Before arriving in Garabandal, we stopped at Aguilar de Campoo, the town where the Fontaneda family lived. There I purchased several different holy cards, all portraying Our Lady and the Child Jesus. All the way to Garabandal I kept poring over them trying to pick the most beautiful one for myself: I planned to give the other four to the Garabandal visionaries.
Several hours after arriving, we heard that Mari Loli was in ecstasy in her house, which was the town's hostel. When we arrived there, I saw that people were placing in a basket rosaries, photos, medals, and rings to be given to the Virgin to kiss. I placed my holy card in the basket so that it would be kissed by Our Lady. Mari Loli, in ecstasy, picked out of the basket each article and gave it to the Virgin to kiss, and then without looking, returned it to its owner without looking at them and without making a mistake.
Then Mari Loli picked up my holy card and gave it to the Virgin to kiss. As she returned it to the basket, I heard her ask the Virgin why She would not kiss this one. At that moment a great sorrow came over me and I went to my uncle Ramón and crying, I told him that during the trip I was selfishly trying to pick the prettiest card to keep for myself, and that I was very sorry. He told me not to worry about it, and to learn not to be so selfish the next time. I returned to Mari Loli, who was still in ecstasy and I saw her take my card and offer it again to the Virgin, saying, "so now You want to kiss it?" After holding it up to be kissed, she came over to me and returned my card. I was speechless.
After Mari Loli came out of ecstasy, Father Ramón asked her why the Virgin did not want to kiss the card the first time. She answered that I knew why, and later the Virgin Herself asked for the card to kiss, because by then I had understood. This was my only personal experience at Garabandal, but for me it was enough.
Photo: Begoña, left (her mother is on the right) with Mari Cruz and Jacinta in Garabandal, 1961.
I was a witness to countless ecstasies because I spent my time playing all day with the visionaries. Once Conchita went into ecstasy while holding my hand during one of our games, and I had to follow her everywhere during the entire ecstasy as it was impossible to free my hand from hers.
I have very fond memories of all my uncles, but Father Ramón was my favorite. As a child he was like my father, because during most of my childhood, my real father was working in Venezuela. Whenever Father Ramón came to Madrid he stayed with us. We were always playing. I loved to hear him talk: he told the most fascinating stories and he told them well. He also gave spiritual conferences in my school, and when the other girls knew my uncle was giving them, nobody skipped. they loved to hear him, and also wanted to go to confession to him, since he was very understanding and made them feel good afterward. I was his only niece and he adored me.
I did not have much interaction with my uncle Luis because I was very small and he came to Spain less often: and then he died so soon. It was the same with my uncle Marcelino. (Father Marcelino Andreu) who was away at the missions. With my uncle Alejandro (Father Alejandro Andreu) I spent two years in Venezuela. All of them were very charming: Father Luis was the prankster.
The last time I was with all three of them together (Alejandro, Ramón and Marcelino) was when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter (Itzier) nineteen years ago. I had to keep bed rest and they were always with me keeping me company.
We loved Father Ramón very much. He was very understanding and generous and he had a great love for Our Lady.
Reprinted with kind permission from Garabandal Journal, January-February 2005