When in the early morning hours of July 19,1962, Conchita came out of her house in ecstasy and began walking down the street, a stampede was set in motion and Alejandro Damians was back in the pack. But when the girl suddenly stopped and knelt down in the middle of an alley, the crowd went surging past and Damians found himself right next to her. As everyone clamored to get close, he held his ground, and from his privileged vantage point he became both a prize witness and the photographer. Here is an except from his own account as Conchita was about to receive the Host.
Photo: Alejandro Damians
Soon, without being able to say how, without Conchita having changed her position or expression in the least, the sacred Host appeared on her tongue. It's impossible to describe the sensation I felt then and still feel today remembering it! It pierced the heart, filling it with tenderness, and moistening the eyes with an almost uncontainable need to cry.
Later they told me Conchita had been immobile some two minutes, with the sacred Host on her tongue, until she swallowed it normally. Then she kissed the crucifix that she carried in her hand.
I was unaware of the time that passed. I only remember, as if in a dream, the voices that were shouting for me to stoop down, and feeling a hard whack on my head.
Photo: Frame of film showing the Host on Conchita's tongue.
Then I remembered I was carrying the motion picture camera around my neck. And without paying attention to the complaints, I remained standing, focused the camera, pressed the trigger, and filmed the last moments of Conchita's Communion. Since I'd never used a movie camera before and barely remembered my cousin's instructions, it did not seem very likely that anything would come out. And besides, as I noticed later, the visibility was totally inadequate, since I had to operate by light from flashlights.
When the roll came back from being developed, I found myself with almost a new miracle: on the film appeared seventy-nine frames of the phenomenon. The shoving of the people surrounding me prevented the subject from being centered well on many of the frames, but several showed it accurately.
I don't know what most people think of all these things, nor the decision the Church will adopt. The only thing of which I can be sure - and I hold this without any kind of doubt - is that on July 18, 1962, in San Sebastian de Garabandal, two miracles occurred: The first, Conchita's Communion, which displayed a supernatural character of enormous proportions; the second was much smaller but showed proof of the infinite condescension of the Virgin toward me, because only through her condescension was I able to be so close to the prodigy and have it clearly impressed on my film.
When Conchita got up after having received Communion and continued on her way, I couldn't follow her; I had no strength. I withdrew to a corner and there remained entirely alone, leaning against a wall, holding onto the motion picture camera with the little strength that I had left. I don't know how long I was there. When I was able to relax after all the excitement, I set out walking through the village, with slow steps, without a fixed aim.
Reprinted with kind permission from July-August 2005
Excerpted from SHE WENT IN HASTE TO THE MOUNTAIN, by Eusebio Garcia de Pesquera, O.F.M., Cap