Dr. Jean Caux was an esthetic (plastic) surgeon from Paris with a very successful practice (one of his clients was French film star Brigitte Bardou). As an amateur photographer, he went to Garabandal on July 18, 1962, with his camera equipment for the purpose of filming the Miracle of the Host. But things did not work out for him. And while he was not able to film the prodigy with his quality camera and lighting, a businessman from Barcelona, Alejandro Damians, with a borrowed movie camera that he had never used before, was the one to film the Miracle. A year later on August 15, 1963, the two men met and had a conversation that revealed that there was more to who did the filming and why.
Dr. Caux: So you were the one who made the film of Conchita's Communion. I'm very happy to meet you and to have the opportunity to talk to you about that day! Would you mind answering a few questions?
Alejandro terms I'm glad to meet you as well. Ask whatever you like.
Caux: I read your report closely but I would like some more information.
Damians: You must realize that while the report is complete, there were some things I couldn't put down - what I felt inside.
Photo: The flamboyant Dr. Caux with Conchita in 1965.
Caux: Tell me, did you keep your eyes on the girl the whole time?
Damians: From the moment I found myself next to her, I didn't look at anything except her. I can swear that I didn't take my eyes off her tongue for a moment. Obviously I could have blinked, but as you know, that would have been a matter of no more than a slight fraction of a second. And I saw how - with a speed too fast for the human eye - the Host appeared on her tongue. To put it a better way, I'd say faster than a split second.
Caux: Why didn't you film it from the beginning?
Damians: I was awestruck, stunned! When I came to my senses - I'm not sure it actually happened that way since I don't have a clear recollection - I took the camera and quickly was able to film the last seconds of the miracle.
Caux: Did it occur to you to touch the Host?
Caux: Was the girl's tongue held out in the usual way for receiving Communion?
Damians: I would say it was extended more than it normally would be.
Caux: Now permit me to ask a question that I've wanted to ask for a long time: Did you feel at that moment a joy so tremendous, so beyond this world, that you couldn't compare it with anything else, that you wouldn't exchange it for anything, even a billion pesetas for example?
Damians: That's a question I've been asked more than once and in similar words. I certainly wouldn't exchange the happiness I felt during those moments for a billion pesetas, nor for anything in the world. It was a joy so intense, so profound, that I can't explain it, nor can I compare it with anything. It was something exceptional! - something for which I'd give my life, and which didn't allow me later to follow the girl's ecstasy, or to go with my wife or with anyone; I was only able to go off into a corner by myself and sob in silence.
Caux: I'm delighted to hear that! Actually it's what I suspected. There are still two things that I'd like very much to know: What was the reason for your great joy? And were you in the state of grace at the time? Pardon my forwardness; don't answer if you don't want to.
Damians: I don't mind answering. I was in God's grace; and my enormous emotion wasn't caused by the miracle itself, or in seeing the girl with the white object on her tongue. (Some said the Host had a cross in the center; others, that the cross was thick; I didn't see any of that.) The great thing that had such a tremendous effect on me was finding myself in the presence of the living and true God. I wouldn't exchange that for anything in the world. If God wants me to see the Miracle that is predicted, I'll be delighted, but if it's not to be, what can I say? [It was not God's will that Senor Damians see another Miracle. He died a few years ago.] It would be difficult for anything in the world to equal the impression I had in seeing Him during that solemn and magnificent moment in my life.
Caux: You don't know how happy that makes me on the one hand and how miserable on the other. I felt the same as you, but with the opposite result! Listen to this. I was all ready to film the event; but everything went wrong and I wasn't able to film anything. Only at the last moment, in the last fraction of a second, did I manage to see the Host as It began disappearing, being swallowed by the girl. At that moment, I was pierced by a terrible pain, a horrible pain that overwhelmed me! It was the pain caused by a God I had come to catch a glimpse of and Who was going away from me.
It was only then that it occurred to me - I hadn't thought about it before - that I was in the state of mortal sin. I wept like you, not from joy but pain! I understood what sin was and what hell was. It was useless for my wife to try to console me; nor could I explain anything, nor could she understand me. That pain was something too great to share or be assuaged. Because of this, I believe that only if God permits me to see the [great] Miracle - now that I try to always be in His grace - will there depart from me this pain so profound that I think it's going to kill me, and which still continues piercing my heart. On that night in Garabandal, I even had the impression that the people were avoiding me, as if they saw my sins!
Damians: I understand everything, my friend, but I must tell you that it wasn't only your impression the people didn't like you; it was the truth. The people thought you had come with a woman who wasn't your wife, and they even asked me to see if I could have you thrown out of the village. Now I understand why God didn't permit that to happen. You suffered more by staying than you would have by being forced to leave.
Photo: Frame of film showing the Host on Conchita's tongue.
Caux: You're right. I would have preferred that to happen. But now I know who God is and what He wants of me, what the hell is of not seeing God and how this pain - I would give more than my whole fortune to avoid it - was relieved in confession (and now also with the hope of seeing the Miracle some day). Whatever people say, and although many ridicule me, I cannot abandon the service of the Garabandal cause, to which I owe this profound and terribly awesome feeling which I hope will either leave me or fill me to overflowing on the day of the Miracle. The view of hell moves me to try to move the world myself, announcing what has happened and what is going to happen, so that it can be saved. My family was the first to think I was crazy although now they don't think that way. But I assure you that nothing that anyone thinks of me matters; the only thing that matters to me is God.
As an addendum to the above is this excerpt from a letter written in April, 1970, by Maria Teresa Le Pelletier de Glatigny: "One afternoon in Paris, Dr. Caux told us confidentially what he had felt on that night in Garabandal. Among other things, he told me how at the exact moment of the miracle, he had lived and experienced what human words could not convey: what it is to lose God, the true pain of hell. At the same time, he was filled with all the horror of being in the state of mortal sin. 'Pray for me, Madam,' he told me at the end, 'so that I may never fall into sin again, now that I have experienced its terrible meaning.'"
Reprinted with kind permission July-August 2005
Excerpted from SHE WENT IN HASTE TO THE MOUNTAIN, by Eusebio Garcia de Pesquera, O.F.M., Cap.