When it comes to Garabandal, Don Placido Ruiloba is the best informed person with the most documentation of anyone in Santander. During the time of the apparitions, since June, 1961, he went up to the village almost every afternoon. A very circumspect observer, he had discovered some negative aspects in what was told to him by witnesses, and the visionaries. Even though he became a great doubter of the apparitions, the little visionaries remained very fond of him. The same could not be said of certain enthusiasts of Garabandal. Two of them told me (Josefa Gallego) that they amused themselves by referring to him as "the traitor." Here is his testimony.
One day I was preoccupied by something negative, which I no longer remember, so I went up to the village and arrived at nightfall; the girls were already in ecstasy. Besieged by my doubts, I went to a place off by myself and said interiorly: "Our Lady, so that I can believe that all this is coming from you, while I remain in this secluded place without the girls knowing it, let one of them come and give me the crucifix to kiss."
From my hiding place I was able to see some of what was happening around me without being seen myself. The girls came out of ecstasy without anyone noticing my presence. Conchita went into her house where she normally came out of ecstasy. I experienced a great deception and told myself that my prayer had not been answered. My doubts, therefore, were well founded.
While reflecting on this, I saw some people filing out of the house with the girl (in ecstasy) right behind them. She started coming toward me as I remained in my hiding place which was next to the fountain but at a lower level (this fountain, well known by the visitors, was a good place to hide at night because it was a shadowy spot). Conchita came and gave me the crucifix to kiss three times which produced in me great tranquility and dissipated the doubts I had at the time.
Another night something truly extraordinary happened. The streets of the village which have no kind of paved surface, became a quagmire that night as they usually do after a good rain. Mari Loli, Jacinta and Conchita were in ecstasy. As at other times, they were walking with their eyes fixed toward the sky; each one held a crucifix tightly in her hand. Then Conchita, who was in the middle, dropped her crucifix. Nevertheless, they continued walking some 25 to 30 meters in ecstasy and then Conchita said: "Ah, I have to get it? Tell me where it is." Then the three girls (in ecstasy) walked backwards until they came to the place where the crucifix had fallen. These backward marches were not uncommon.
With her eyes fixed straight above, Conchita stooped slightly and reached down about 50 centimeters (20 inches) from the ground. Then before the attentive and stupefied eyes of all of us who witnessed it, the crucifix came out of the mud by itself to the level of the girl's hand. She immediately grabbed it with both hands while remaining in ecstasy. As soon as the ecstasy was over, I went over to examine the girl's hands. I can affirm that I did this immediately after the ecstasy ended. Well, there was not even the slightest trace of mud either on the girl's hands or on the crucifix. I am ready to testify to this with my signature, and I must say that it was seen by many other people one of whom was Daniela Cuenca of Los Corrales de Buelna.
Photo: Placido Ruiloba holding his microphone close to Conchita's mouth on the night of June 18, 1965, when she received the second message of Our Lady from Saint Michael.
Another thing happened during a very bad night of torrential rain. Jacinta fell into ecstasy and I agreed to accompany her by myself. I accepted to do this since it gave me the opportunity to perform a test. The girl, as always, walked with her head tilted back with a firm grip on a crucifix she held in her hand; there was just the two of us and I held a large umbrella over her that was loaned to me by one of the village women. My arm with the umbrella passed over her shoulders and I thought I would be able to direct her in whatever way I wanted to. I felt justified by my doubts and on account of the darkness, the falling rain, the umbrella that obscured our vision, I was convinced I would be able to control the girl and make her go where I wanted to go.
But in no way did that happen. The girl continued her own way which was completely different from the way I intended to impose. I came to the conclusion that this girl, whose eyes were looking upward at a sharp angle was being guided by a light that I was not able to see.
As the ecstasy was prolonged and the pathways became more difficult to traverse, my arm got tired from holding the umbrella and I closed it even though the rain continued without letup. I accompanied the girl for twenty minutes and was soaked through and through; my feet were swimming in my shoes. At the end of twenty minutes, we passed before a house lit by a small electric light bulb which enabled me to see to my amazement that the shoulders and head of the girl were completely dry. To make sure I passed my wet hand three times through her hair and dried it as if I were using a towel. All this I affirm, and would swear to it with my hand on the holy Gospels.
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