Spanish author Mercedes Salisachs from Barcelona made three trips to Garabandal during the time of the apparitions and stayed for several days each time witnessing a significant number of ecstasies. Her first visit was over Easter in 1962 (recounted in our March-April 2003 edition) about which she gives a moving testimony of how after being distraught over the death of her son in an auto accident she learned (from Our Lady through Loli) on Holy Saturday that he was in heaven. This account represents the first part of an informe (report) of her experiences in Garabandal Our series based on the remainder of her report begins with her still being in the village over Easter of 1962.
It was Easter and the people of Garabandal were happy and content. In spite of it being this time of year, the sun was shining and it was warm. Joseph (Mercedes's driver) had recovered completely. He had known and loved my son Miguel since his childhood and after hearing my story, could not stop crying.
During the afternoon I recorded conversations with the girls and with people from the town. Everyone was convinced of the truth of the visions.
At the time for which the visions were announced, we went to Conchita's home. She was joyful and spontaneous, and I noted her great personality. She was uneducated but had the spirit of an artist. While she waited for the vision she was writing, drawing, singing and playing jokes on all of us. In the letter that she dedicated to me she recommended that I put religion in my books for the good of humanity. Graciously she drew for us the image of the Angel such as she had seen him; then we recorded songs composed by her and the Hail Holy Queen, accompanied by me. She hesitated to sing it alone.
While we were waiting for her apparition they came to tell us that Jacinta was already in ecstasy. She was alone during her vision; her mother was exhausted and had fallen asleep. When we entered her home, Jacinta was leaving the house, in a trance by herself. Her mother, still half asleep ran down the stairs in a great hurry, and had to return to the house as she'd forgotten her shoes.
Always looking upwards, Jacinta walked fast with the crucifix in her hands. She stopped at the entrance of a house and knocked until they opened.
Photo: Jacinta in ecstasy in 1962. Inset, Father Valentin Marichalar, village pastor.
She entered the house and climbed the stairs in the dark. Father Corta and I were behind her. First she entered a room on the second floor where apparently two little girls were sleeping. Then she opened the door in front of us. Somebody turned on the light and we saw Don Valentin in bed. Jacinta was laughing, and always looking upwards, offered him the crucifix to kiss but Don Valentin was half asleep and couldn't quite reach it. Jacinta, still laughing, did not give up until he kissed it. Then she made the sign of the cross, and giving it to him to kiss again, left.
Next day Don Valentin confessed to me, "May God forgive me, but I was tired from so many prodigies and doubting so much. I asked the Virgin that if the girls were really seeing her, that night have one of them come to me while I was sleeping and wake me up. Now I cannot doubt. They've never done that before. Besides, did you see how Jacinta was laughing when she gave me the crucifix to kiss?"
I think that night was the first time I saw Jacinta coming down the stairs backwards and running up the steep street. It was extremely difficult to follow her; she was running too fast to keep up with her.
At one time running backwards she slipped and fell in the mud. She immediately got up gracefully and harmoniously. It was as though we were seeing a movie in slow motion. The artistic movements of this child could not have been imitated by the best ballerina. She shook the mud off her coat and continued her backward flight.
In view of the difficulty in following her we decided to wait for her in the square. I must mention that Joseph, the mechanic, in spite of how ill he had been the previous day and in spite of his blood loss, ran after her without any problem.
While we were waiting in the square, a boy from the town (I don't know if on purpose or accidentally) bumped into her while she was running. There was a violent crash as both fell to the ground. Jacinta immediately got up without a scratch; the boy, I was informed later, had two broken fingers.
Later she returned walking normally but still in ecstasy. Once in the square (el cuadro), she fell to her knees upon the rock of the first apparitions. She made the sign of the cross and came out of ecstasy.
On seeing where she was, she suggested that we pray the rosary and we did. Later on I found out that whenever any of the girls came out of ecstasy in the square, if any one of those present had not said the rosary yet that day, they proposed that we all do so. This day it was Joseph who had not prayed. Since he was sick he had stayed in bed while the rest of us went to the church to pray our rosary.
Photo: Mercedes was present during this ecstasy in 1962 where Mari Loli levitated off the floor.
Mari Loli was the last to be in ecstasy that night. Surrounded by a large group of people, she went to the foyer of her house. She placed herself on the floor, arranged her skirt neatly and modestly, and suddenly, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, she raised upwards so that only her heels and the crown of her head touched the floor. At the request of Ceferino (her father) we passed my cane under her body without touching it. This was no illusion; the rest of her body was in the air.
When she sat up her feet were in the air, her body in the shape of an acute angle. Then walking on her knees, she went to Gloria (the niece of Rosario Santa Maria) and removed her medals and chain, offered them to the Virgin to kiss, offered them back to Gloria, and then held them up a bit longer, as if the Virgin were telling her something referring to the medals.
Then Gloria and I changed places. Gloria went to the other side of the room and I took her place. We wanted to see what Mari Loli would do when she came back to return the medals. She came to me in ecstasy and when she started to put the medals back, (without looking at me), she stopped and then said to the Virgin, "What? She is not here? Very well." Still on her knees, she turned around and went directly to Gloria. Without any hesitation she offered the medals to be kissed again and put them back around her neck.
Gloria, between tears, told us, "I asked the Virgin, if the children were truly seeing her, to make Mari Loli take my medals from me and then replace them."
This kind of testing was common in Garabandal. Several times I saw the girls stop during their ecstatic walks, as if someone had called them, and return to a particular person. Or (as what happened to my future son-in-law Alfonzo Zuleta), they'd raise their arm above and behind themselves, bend backward, and offer the crucifix to be kissed by someone standing behind them. This was usually in response to a mental request made by one of the onlookers.
Of course, rationalists will explain this by phenomena of suggestion or transmission of thought. But it never worked for me. I desperately tried to get the girls to give me the cross to kiss, and provide answers to calm me about the death of my son. All I got from them was total indifference. Could my subconscious have been trying to keep me ignorant of the answer? Did it think I'd be happier not knowing? In my case, couldn't a word of consolation have been more effective than the rejection I suffered? What would have happened if I'd left the village before receiving my answer?
Truly, as far as I'm concerned, my lack of success in thought transmission could be blamed by the rationalist on my being a poor medium, but then how do they explain that since Mari Loli revealed the answer to my question my quality as a medium had improved so much?
I went back to Barcelona totally convinced the girls were seeing the Virgin.
Reprinted with kind permission from Garabandal Journal, September-October 2005
Excerpted from LOS MILAGROS O FAVORES DE NUESTRA MADRE DE GARABANDAL by Maria Josefa Villa de Gallego
Translated from Spanish by Dr. Edward Serrano