Loli said: "If people only knew who is here today."
What I'm about to relate was told to me by my sister Margarita (Tituca). It happened October 18,1961, when the first message of Garabandal was revealed.
Photo: People entering Garabandal on October 18, 1961, for the first Message of Our Lady.
The day began cold, rainy and very disagreeable, and my wife and I took my sister Tituca to the bus station so she could get to Cosio; there was no bus that could go all the way to Garabandal on the road as it existed in those days. She returned very late after her odyssey among the great crowd of people who had gone up to Garabandal to hear the Virgin's message. Many were disappointed at its simplicity; they had gone out of curiosity hoping for some bombastic apocalyptic revelation and had plenty to say about how "ordinary" it was. The message was that of a mother warning her children that the path they were on was not pleasing to God, and that they would have to change their lives to avoid the chastisement that divine justice was forecasting for mankind. This message was given that evening, after an entire day of miserable weather, thunderstorms and sleet.
My sister had an extremely difficult day. She carried a cane that helped her cover the rough terrain, and ate what she'd brought sheltered in one of the villager's houses. The situation was chaotic; the narrow rocky streets were swarming with people from everywhere looking to find something thrilling. However, the minority of people waiting for the words from heaven with simple faith and love for the Virgin were not disappointed, and were disposed to obey this message which had been announced with such meteorological fanfare.
Margarita was one of those who had reason to listen very carefully to those words, because a month before the apparitions began she had been in her room praying, before she went to bed, the prayers of her congregation of the Daughters of Mary, and she heard interiorly a powerful and clear locution that left her surprised and startled. The words she heard were: "Margarita, soon you'll hear from My mother. She will allow you to suffer very much, but you will have My help."
From that night in May of 1961 until June 18 of the same year, those words came true, and on October 18, 1961, she heard from Our Lady the first Message of Garabandal. With great humility and respect, she listened to the words and desires of that Mother to whom she had consecrated herself from her adolescence. With her Marian and Eucharistic soul, of solid religious and theological formation, and with a deep interior spiritual life, these apparitions went to the very depth of her heart, and from then on she enthusiastically dedicated herself to spreading the news of the visions.
The scene in Garabandal on October 18, 1961
But that unpleasant October 18 had a surprise in store for my patient sister, something so unexpected that it gave her hours of confusion and questions with no answers. This phenomenon of confusion that ran throughout the local and world news, and united to the condemnation of almost everyone in the Church, gave Garabandal the reputation of being superstitious and mercenary. Many years have passed and this infamy has been proven wrong. But let us continue.
That afternoon, taking advantage of a pause in the flooding rain, Margarita went out of the house and joined some pilgrims who had come to town: one of them was a priest. They had diverse opinions about what was going on in Garabandal Their discussion was grow louder and hotter, and they were unaware of the presence of Margarita or that of two tall, blond blue-eyed, youths - she was sure they were twins - who were dressed alike and wearing fashionable caps. They looked foreign. perhaps Nordic, and were listening to the conversation without participating, just smiling sweetly. Tituca watched them carefully and curiously. She noted with interest that they each had in their right hand a long staff that almost reached the level of their head. These strange looking rods were the color of bread with some knots from which grew little leaves of the same color. Tituca was quite taken by them, but the youths did not answer her many questions, and she could not figure out where these rods could have come from. They were not taken from any wood nearby. She asked questions such as: "Where are you from? We don't have rods like that around here. Who gave them to you? Are you foreigners? Who told you about these apparitions?" Their mouths were sealed: no answers, they only smiled. She was fascinated by the beautifully finished staffs, and comparing them with her own simple hazel wood cane, was left mystified.
Suddenly one of the men involved in the loud argument said: "And what if all this is the work of the devil?" Blessed Lord! The effect of these words on the two youths was instantaneous and terrible. Their faces smiled no more. The sweetness that had so attracted Tituca disappeared and was replaced by a look of grave severity tinged with sadness.
That statement had transformed them and their aspect was not the same. Tituca was overcome by sadness, and she realized that these two youths knew Spanish perfectly and had understood the conversation of the group and also her questions.
She began to ask herself, if they spoke Spanish, why didn't they answer her questions? What was the meaning of those permanent smiles? Why did they become serious and sad when the devil was mentioned? Who were they and where did these impressive youths come from? And above all, from what forest had they cut those marvelous staffs, light, glowing and so clean. And those little leaves, growing out of season? Were they wet? My sister didn't say and I didn't ask. Dry or not, why were they that color? The contrast with the rustic and muddy canes other people were using was to say the least, striking.
After this, the two youths left the group and started walking toward the house of Ceferino, Loli's father. They left the same way they arrived, in absolute silence.
Margarita returned to the lady's house to have a snack. They discussed the day's happenings, and how long it was taking for the message to be announced. This lady said to Tituca confidentially, "Do you know what Loli said this morning?
'If people only knew who is here today.'
They asked her but she did not say any more."
Margarita began to associate what she had just heard with the mysterious youths. Marichu Herrero and her sister, friends of ours who were there waiting for the Message to be made public, had also noticed the presence of the two youths, so elegant and with such a fine appearance and clothes and caps, whom they had seen standing on a corner looking up at the Pines. They also thought they were foreigners.
Someone referred to what Loli had said, and they began to throw out names of famous people who might have come to the village for the announcement of the message. They tried to figure out who it might be, when Marichu's sister happened to ask: "Could they be angels?"
The question was not out of place. Sacred scripture is full of examples of the presence of angels who take human form to carry out some mission or communicate messages to men. Supposing they were angels, who could they have been? Tituca, using her intuition, thought of Michael and Gabriel, as both seem to be present wherever there are events involving the Virgin. The angel of the Annunciation and the angel of the celestial militia could be the angels who prepared the seers for the first apparition of Our Lady. Tituca remembers a curious detail; when the young men were with her and the group that was arguing, one of them was looking at her as though he knew her, always smiling. Later she thought it could have been Gabriel, because one of her baptismal names was Gabriela. It was a beautiful thought, that's all. We considered it interesting but we'll probably never know the whole story.
As I said before, Tituca arrived home worn out from the difficulties of the journey. To come down the mountain in the dark, more than five kilometers of muddy road, after all the emotions of the day, left her gentle soul completely exhausted. Things stayed this way for awhile; we had no concrete facts so there was no reason to discuss it further. It was curious and interesting, but I don't like loose ends.
For instance, I like how at Fatima Lucia gave a firm date [for the Miracle of the Sun]. And Mari Loli should have said who was in town! Why such a mystery, and what good would it do if nobody was going to know? Finally, in order to clear everything up as much as possible, I called Marichu Herrero to come to Margarita's and try to get it all straightened out. They agreed in almost everything except the hats the youths were wearing. Marichu and her sister said they weren't Tyro-lese hats, but something very different. Also they didn't agree on the staffs, as they hadn't seen anything in their hands. They couldn't go any further except to say they were two very strange young men. They said what they saw, what they thought, what they suspected and what they deduced. It's very logical that there was disparity in the details, as Marichu and her sister had seen them from far away, while Tituca was three feet from them and could see the reaction of seriousness and sadness when the devil was mentioned.
Why were they there, to gauge public opinion? Who were they? Who had entrusted them with this mission? What were they, angels or tourists?
In spite of the hierarchy's rejection and the sensational press. Garabandal continued with the supernatural and divine signs. That was the first Message, and the last was on June 18, 1965. We still had no answers to this indescribable adventure, and we spoke very little of it in the years that followed. We also didn't hear or read of anyone else referring to this mysterious episode.
Signed: Jose Maria Julia
Santander, August, 1992
Reprinted with kind permission from Garabandal Journal, March-April 2006
Excerpted from LOS MILAGROS O FAVORES DE NUESTRA MADRE DE GARABANDAL by Maria Josefa Viuda de Gallego
Translated from Spanish by Dr. Edward Serrano