Friday, January 30, 2015

She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Page 22)

We can imagine the happiness of those good people. How could God have so distinguished Garabandal? What did He want from us? From now on people will look with envy on the village which up to now they had regarded with pity.

* * *

The first Saturday since the beginning of events had come, falling on the last Saturday of that memorable month of June. Would something special happen on that day of the week especially consecrated to the Virgin? Would only an angel come without speaking? Or would he bring something from her, who was so much invoked there with the petition of the Hail Mary and the salutations of the Litany of Loretto!

During the first hours of the afternoon, the road going up to Garabandal saw a continual passage of people who were coming to the village in search of — they themselves could not even say. It took more than curiosity to make them come up the road perspiring and exhausted. Many of them were peasants who had left their urgent work in the middle of the hay harvest. But that which was said to be taking place at Garabandal was more important than all those pressing occupations. Nothing like this had ever occurred around here before, and besides . . . why lose the chance?

When the girls, accompanied by the people, arrived at the usual place, they met many strangers who had come in advance to take a place and see us better.

There wasn't time to start the rosary. The Angel appeared immediately, and the four girls were enraptured away from everything around them. They were alone with the Angel in the splendor of something wonderful.

Then they noticed something new about him. He continued gazing on them with a smile; he was still silent. But below the Angel today was writing that had some unknown meaning. The first line started, HAY QUE . . . and below was seen a series of capital letters, that the girls later learned were Roman numerals, designating a date.(21)

We asked him what this meant, and he smiled . . . but he didn't tell us.
When the apparition was over, the young men of the village took us away in a cart, so that the people would not crush us, and so they would not kiss us.
They took us to the church, and Father Valentín, the parish priest, took us into the sacristy one by one so that we would tell him what had happened.

The pastor was anxious to assemble the greatest number of facts in order to bring an early and complete report to his Bishop. The apparition on that Saturday held particular interest because of the writing, which might be the key to the solution of the strange mystery of the calleja; but the girls were not in a position to satisfy the understandable curiosity of the priest. Absorbed in the contemplation of the Angel, who was above every wonder of this world, they had not understood the Roman numerals. And they had paid little attention to the strange writing which the Angel himself had refused for the moment to explain.(22)

El Cuadro

As can be imagined, on the next day, Sunday, the last Sunday of June and the octave of the first phenomenon of the Calleja, the village was crammed with pilgrims, among them the school teacher from Cossío,(23) (I do not know why Conchita mentions him so specifically) five priests,(24) some of whom did not believe, and many doctors. The atmosphere in San Sebastián on that beautiful day in June was like a holiday. And the people continued to be excited.

And it was not without reason.

21. An article in the French edition of Conchita’s Diary relates:

In a letter written to Mr. William A. Nolan of Illinois (U.S.A.) Conchita describes this in the following words:

«The first times that we saw him, he didn’t say anything to us, up until the first of July. Before the first of July, he carried some writing at his feet, but we didn’t understand what it meant. The words that we understood were these:

On the first line: "There must . . ."
And on the last line: "XVIII-MCMLXI".
This is what we understood.»

This is an allusion, as will be brought forth later on, to the message of October 18th, 1961.

22. In October of 1975, I questioned Jacinta:

—The inscription that the Angel carried at his feet on those days—was it difficult to read, or could you read it clearly?
—I hardly remember. What I do recall is that the row of capital letters — whose meaning we didn’t understand — greatly attracted our attention. Later they told us that these were Roman Numerals.
—You didn’t understand what the writing meant when you saw it. Did the Angel give you some explanation?
—No, it was the Virgin who explained it to us later.

23. This teacher was still teaching in the same school in 1970; his name is José Gallego.

24. Father Pedro Gómez from Puente Nansa (a former Jesuit, now no longer a priest); Fr. Juan González Gómez (a native of Garabandal); Fr. Arsenio Quintanal from Celís, Father Alfonso Cobián of Rivadesella, accompanied by a Dominican priest. Father Juan González Gómez was later named pastor of Puente Nansa. After August 20th, 1972, he began coming to San Sebastián de Garabandal for religious services on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Page 21)

Fr. Valentin was the first priest to see an ecstasy.

At the usual time of the evening, at 8:30, Te lucis ante terminum, fervent prayer rose up from the community on the stony path to the pines, a path that was already radiating the miraculous. A calm fell on the surrounding plains, and spread through the ravines to the mountains above. The soft fragrance of summer, the scent of fields in bloom and new-cut hay pervaded the air.(17)

Around the girls gathered an assembly of almost all the people in the village, presided over by its pastor. One by one the beads of the rosary were counted out with the thrill of expectation . . . And at last the ecstasy of the girls!

This is certain! Shouts of enthusiasm mixed with sighs of emotion.

But not all resistance was vanquished. Among the onlookers was a certain Professor Manín.(18) Surely out of a desire for more complete information, this man took the girls to a neighbor's house after the ecstasy to interrogate them tenaciously about what they had seen. Some of the people got the idea that he had prepared the girls for their visions in the Calleja; the Civil Guards were suspicious of him, and even considered throwing him in jail.(19)

On that Thursday evening, Fr. Valentín was satisfied with being no more than a witness. But on the next day, June 23rd, he began to act as the person mainly responsible for what was happening.

At the same time of the evening there was an ecstasy in the Calleja again after the usual prayers. But the number of onlookers had increased markedly, since the news of what was occurring in San Sebastián had already traveled to the surrounding villages: Cossío, Puente Nansa, Rozadío.(20)

The ecstasy finished, the people showed their feelings by rushing to embrace the girls.

That day the guards did not want the professor to take us for questioning. We went with the parish priest to the church sacristy where he questioned us, calling us in one by one, to see if we agreed.

The examination must have completely satisfied Father Valentín, since on coming out into the courtyard with the girls, he said to the people waiting there:

Up to now everything seems to be coming from God.

17. Planting and harvesting hay is a principal occupation for the peasants in the mountains, who gain their living mainly from their cows. The countryside of the whole Santander region, not only the area near Garabandal, is almost a continual succession of fields of hay and woods of Eucalyptus. During those June days to which we are referring, the hay harvest was in full swing.

18. This professor was in San Sebastián tutoring the son of an indiano of the village. His name was Manín or Manuco (a nickname of Manuel). He recently lived in Santander.

19. The police chief mentions in his memoirs:

«In the village there was a teacher or professor who had come to give lessons on assigned courses to the son of the indiano Taquio. (Eustaquio Cuenca) And the teacher accompanied the girls during the apparitions to hear what they said, and to take notes. The people began to talk about whether he was hypnotizing them, and whether he was giving them pills or other things of that type. One day after the apparition, one of my sergeants informed me that the teacher had taken Conchita to the home of the indiano and that it was true what the people were saying . . . I went immediately and actually found the teacher with the girl in a room. I asked him what this was about, and he answered that he was doing work for Father Valentín, gathering information that they could later present in a report to the bishop.»

20. These are all small riverside towns on the banks of the Nansa River. Puente Nansa is on the river below Cossío; Rozadío, on the river above. This latter town is the ‘Robacio’ of the book ‘Penas Arriba,’ the childhood country of Neluco, the young and dedicated doctor of the novel.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Page 20)

The calleja was a rocky trail leading out from the village.

Clementina soon became very excited by this inconceivable spectacle. And certain that something was happening there — something from God — began to speak out like this, «Conchita, my child, pray to Our Lady of Mount Carmel . . . Pray to the Sacred Heart to help us . . . Let them tell you what they want from us . . .» She was talking of going to call a priest — of calling the whole village. What could this be? All of those present did not share her tremendous excitement, and even continued laughing. It was at this time that she, and not Conchita's aunt, said, «Oh children! If you don't believe in this, you don't believe in God.»

All those who saw us went down to the village telling everyone about it, since they were very impressed.
For they had never seen or heard anything like it.

It can be imagined how the news spread through the village, and what was talked about in the houses on that night in June, a night of grace.

"Everything Seems To Be Coming from God"

Of course the news came quickly to Fr. Valentín. And not only to Fr. Valentín. The chief of police, Juan A. Seco, wrote in his memoirs:

«On June 21st, I was informed that something miraculous had occurred in my district. On that day I had gone to consult with a doctor of the area in Puente Nansa. And Dr. José Luis Gullón, who was very amazed, mentioned to me what had just been told to him by two women who had come down from Garabandal, that an angel had appeared to four young girls from the village.

I think that at the time I forgot to ask the doctor for the prescription that I needed for my ear, because it struck me that I no longer needed it, since I was hearing perfectly what the women had informed him. I went directly to the headquarters of the Civil Guard and ordered Officer José Fernández Codesido to go up to San Sebastián and carefully investigate everything that happened. On his return, the officer reported to me that he had been with each of the supposed visionaries individually; and that they coincided completely: that they happened to be playing marbles at the entrance to the calleja which is named Campuca Street and that suddenly . . .

After that day I felt satisfied, and ordered a pair of guards to remain permanently in Garabandal. The news spread throughout all the neighboring towns and every day people made the journey to Garabandal, which required increasing the size of the guard. Soon there came to be crowds of 500 to 3,000 persons a day.»

But let us return to Father Valentín.

The good priest must have been so impressed by what was told him that he had already decided to go to Santander on June 22nd.(16) to completely inform the Bishop. Someone made him hold off, observing correctly, Why don't you wait to see for yourself what's going on? Surely something will happen this evening and then later you can give a better report about everything. Thanks to this intelligent observation, that Thursday, the day of the week dedicated to the Eucharist, which in 1961 had more daylight time than any other day in the year, was the first to have a priest in the calleja at Garabandal as a witness of the communication that God seemed to want established from on high with men.

15. It can be easily understood what upset and upheaval came upon the good people of Garabandal as a result of the things happening in the village. Mari Cruz’s mother, Pilar, illustrated this in her conversation recorded on the occasion already mentioned:

«When I saw my daughter for the first tine in that way (in ecstasy), I was very frightened. I thought she was having an attack. I point out that I had never heard talk of apparitions. Well, perhaps apparitions; but not ecstasies. I was unaware of those things. I didn’t know anything at all about them. Now I have learned something. And finding my daughter like that—and going to touch her—and she was so rigid—and going to lift her up—and I couldn’t. I said to myself, This little girl is going to die; she is having an attack!»

16. Although I cannot give the exact date that Father Valentín went to Santander to inform his superior, I know that Ceferino Mazón, the father of Loli, went with him as a civil official of the
village, accompanied by two other men of some importance in the area: the indiano Eustaquio Cuenca and the professor Manín. (The term indiano is generally given in Spain to emigrants who have returned from America after having made their fortune there.)

Father Valentín spoke alone behind closed doors with Bishop Doroteo Fernández. After listening to him, the bishop said that for the moment, obviously, there was only one thing to do: Watch and wait.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Page 19)

“We five: the Angel, Loli, Mari Cruz, Jacinta, and myself”

The people were laughing hard and said to us, Now say a Station!
And so we did, and on ending it the Angel appeared to us.

In their rapture, the girls did not forget the request of the parish priest:

We asked him who he was and why he had come.
But he didn't answer us.

The works of heaven follow their own cadence and its mysteries are not ordinarily immediately unveiled. It is necessary to prepare, wait, and merit.

What happened at that time to those who had come there just to look? The persons, who on that night of June were the first to view the girls' ecstatic transport, were carried away with emotion. A strange and sweet trembling seized them. They didn't know whether to shout or cry, or whether they should call for the rest of the villagers.

Weren't the four transfigured girls the same ones that they knew? Weren't they just like the other children of the village? Weren't they the same ones who walked around town with the other young girls, who ran and played every day in the little streets of San Sebastián?

How they held themselves! And what expressions on their faces! Positioned on their knees on the rocky ground of the trail,(14) their faces turned upward toward something or someone that held them enraptured, their lips parted in a slight smile that gave a charming beauty to their expressions.

Such a limpid look in those eyes! And how those eyes gazed at something that no one else could see! Those present were certain that not even the best photographs could capture the scene completely.

When the four returned to normal, they saw with surprise that some of the people around them were crying and that others were striking their breasts, and one of them, Clementina, was ready to run to the village to call all the people there.

Oh my children, exclaimed someone, expressing the feelings of the rest, When you see the Angel again, tell him to forgive us for not believing!

A woman said to my aunt (Aurelia) who was among the people:
Did you see the Angel?
No, I haven't seen him; but if you don't believe in this, you don't believe in God.

Clementina González gives another version of this episode. The discrepancies between her report and Conchita's can be easily explained, since Conchita was only able to learn what happened around her and her companions during the ecstasy from what she was told by others later on, while Clementina González experienced it first hand. According to the latter, it happened this way:

She had gone to the schoolmaster's home and was talking with his wife, Concesa, seated at the entrance of the old house. (The house is no longer standing, as Conchita's brother built his little hotel Mesón Serafín on its former site.) The women saw the four girls coming, and Conchita came up to Clementina and asked her to accompany them to a place in the Calleja where they wanted to pray. Clementina agreed and Concesa went with them too.

They started praying with the girls, and only a little later, on noticing that something was going on in the Calleja, did other people begin to come, such as Angelita, Conchita's aunt Aurelia, Clementina's 12-year-old eldest son, etc . . .

Those who had come, moved only by curiosity, did not take the matter seriously. Seeing that nothing was happening in spite of the girls' prayers, they were talking and laughing . . . But the girls' sudden entrance into ecstasy made quite an impression on them.

They were not able to see the transfigured faces well as they were in back of the visionaries. They wanted to go ahead to look at their faces but Angelita, the first one who tried it, came back trembling as she felt a mysterious obstacle that «prevented her step and held her back». Then from their positions, leaning forward and stretching their necks, they were able to see the sides of some of the girls' faces and to hear some of their speech . . .

14. Although rocks and stones are scattered all over Garabandal, it is hard to accept the remark in The Star on the Mountain from one pilgrim who states, This town is the rockiest in all Spain.

Monday, January 26, 2015

She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Page 18)

A small monument now marks the site of the Angel’s first appearance

The People
Become Aroused
When the four girls found themselves again, as if nothing had happened, upon the normal ground of the calleja, it was already night —9:30— and so they did not make their intended visit to the church.

They were hardly able to talk about the effect on them. On separating, they agreed not to say anything to anyone. For this reason their answers to their families' questions in their homes were evasive. They carried their secret undivulged to the silence of their beds.

But soon they became aware that they could not keep it hidden like this. The request of the parish priest had to be carried out:
If we saw something again, we should tell him right away. They wanted to obey. But how? He lived in Cossío, six kilometers down a seldom traveled and treacherous road. Our parents would not let us go alone. There was no other solution except to reveal to their families what had happened; and so they did, on the morning of June 21st.

This information, strictly confidential, was passed right away to Fr. Valentín, although something
must have filtered down to him as the day wore on and the expectation in the village increased. The first extraordinary phenomenon of the calleja had not had any witnesses; they had been there alone, as Conchita said, We five: the Angel, Loli, Mari Cruz, Jacinta, and myself. But on the evening of Wednesday, June 21st, 1961, for the first time there would be other observers.

In the evening, after having done what we had to do,
(This is a very important observation. Heaven always teaches us to fulfill our duties since this is the way all order is maintained.) we asked permission from our parents to go to the same place where the Angel had appeared to us.

But while going to the calleja, seeing that the people did not believe, we told a woman named Clementina González that if she wanted to come with us . . .

But she didn't want to come alone since she had her doubts, and she went to call another woman named Concesa.
Noticing us going together, other persons joined us also, and arriving at the calleja, we began to pray the rosary.

We finished it, and the Angel had not come.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Page 17)

Left to right: Loli, Conchita, Mari Cruz, Jacinta

On the next day, Tuesday, the village attitude was about the same, although the number of suspicious and hostile comments was increasing.

Since we hadn't seen anything on June 19th, they thought that he wouldn't appear to us again.
But they didn't know what had happened to us during the night — what we hadn't told anyone.

While going to school Conchita learned that during the night her three companions had received
the same assurance as she, You will see me again. And so they were full of secret joy and predisposed to face the various incidents of the day.

The day passed like all the others, without anything worthy of special mention, until the midafternoon hour came when the children, having left the classroom, asked for their lunches.
(11) The four visionaries, besides asking for their lunches, also asked with much more insistence for a special permission—to go together to pray in the Calleja.

But they ran into difficulties.

My mother, and also the parents, brothers, and sisters of the other girls were worried.
They had a very great conflict, for if they leaned to what was true, they also thought the opposite.

And there was above all the burden of human respect, the fear of being ridiculous that is so constraining in the small towns.

At first Aniceta showed herself completely intractable.

If you want to pray, go to the church; the calleja isn't the place.

Conchita implored, but without result. Fortunately Loli, Jacinta, and Mari Cruz then arrived,
and they had already obtained permission to go.

—Please, Señora. Let Conchita go. Let her go!
—But why do you want to go make fools of yourselves?
—We aren't going to make fools of ourselves! We are going to pray, and to see if the Angel comes!
—No. Conchita isn't going. You can go if you want.

They left, but very slowly, until they no longer could be seen because of a wall in the way.
I remained, very sad.
My mother suddenly changed her mind, and with a loud voice called: Loli. Tell the other girls to come here.
Soon they arrived, and my mother said to them, If you do what I tell you, I'll let Conchita go.

A simple strategy had occurred to Aniceta to protect herself from insult and ridicule in case
things did not come out as the girls expected:

You three go alone now, as if you were going to play there, without saying anything to anyone.
And when you arrive at the calleja, Conchita will go secretly, so that no one will notice.

Loli, Jacinta, and Mari Cruz were not very convinced, afraid that Aniceta was not speaking
seriously. But they began to walk . . . slower and slower. Conchita had to reassure them that she would come. And a little later she did come. She found them complaining about her being late. But their displeasure soon passed and the four, very happy, knelt down on the rocks of the calleja and began to recite the rosary. Very hopeful in the beginning, their anxiety increased as the beads passed through their fingers.

When they had finished, the Angel had not come.
We decided to go to the church.
And when we got up, since we were on our knees, we saw a very brilliant light surrounding the four of us.
We saw nothing else except the light.
And we screamed with fear.

The light, though blinding, did not blind them; but it encircled them resplendently, isolated them
from everything, and blacked out the road. From this came a sensation of constriction —fear— that left them lost and floating in mystery, adrift in something completely unknown that they could not comprehend.(13)

The second day, Monday the 19th, they were made to pass through the experience of,
It is not he who wishes or he who runs. (Romans 9: 16) That is to say, it did not depend mainly on themselves whether or not this series of miraculous contacts with the Infinite Unknown would occur. Everything depended on Him Who is high above all things. At the same time, so that they wouldn't fall into anxious dejection, He gave them a pledge that what they had seen on the previous evening was something very real — with a reason and a meaning — and that it was only the beginning of something more.

From this they were specially prepared for the third day, June 20th, with the phenomenon of the blinding light surrounding them, blacking out the road and isolating them from everything. Their spirit and eyes had to be made ready to pass with a form of natural agility from the dull world of day to day living to a higher world of wonders flooded with brilliance. In this world of light they would have to encounter —alone— elements extremely far above all those things that made up their daily existence.

For this, even the calleja —the path previously seen by the four village girls — would be blocked
out by the mystery of the light, revealing a new destiny, at the time well hidden in the secret designs of God. So the children's startled reaction of fear can be understood — and their screams, which seem to be an unconscious pathetic call for help and explanation. It is never painless to be brusquely taken away from one's normal way of living.
11. The lunches taken in the afternoon almost always consisted of bread and something to go with it. The children did not ordinarily stay home to eat. They came home, asked for lunch, got it, and went back to eat with their schoolmates.

12. In Conchita’s diary the Angel is always written in capitals, so as to make it understood that she is discussing a very important and distinguished angel.

13. Prudencio González was one of the residents of the village who did not take the four girls’ story seriously. She laughed at the foolishness that the people were talking so much about. But that evening she was coming down the calleja with a herd of sheep, and suddenly coming out of the shadows, she had before her eyes the group of four young girls completely alone and outside of themselves. The scene impressed her. Her sheep were going toward the village, closing off her path between the rocks that formed the sides of the calleja. As well as she could, she slid carefully between two of the girls. She had to lean on one of the girl’s shoulders and her impression —as she admitted later—was tremendous, as if she were touching a mystery. The shoulder did not seem to be soft warm flesh, but rather something rigid and cold, trembling.

Friday, January 23, 2015

She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Page 16)

Conchita with her mother Anicita & brothers
It was a dark evening, overcast. The sky was full of clouds and it was very windy.

Things finally quieted down and the girls prolonged their prayer, hoping to see the Angel come. But the Angel did not come. The calleja, which a little while later would be for them a little bit of heaven (as Conchita referred to it) was on the evening of June 19th, under a cloudy sky, with the derisive laughter, the stones, and the blowing wind above, an unpleasant scene of painful disillusion.

Why didn't the Angel come? Would he perhaps come at another time?

When it became late
— it was 8:30 — they lifted their bare knees off the stones of the rocky road, and went down toward the church.

Before arriving there, they met the schoolmistress. She tried to raise their spirits with a childish
explanation that they probably did not believe at the time:

Do you know why he hasn't come?
Surely it's because it's so cloudy.

In the church they made a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

The girls themselves could not explain the unusual connection that seemed to unite the calleja
with the church. In the calleja nothing had been said to them, not a word of explanation, nor a command, nor even a simple request, and they were uneducated children; but a mysterious instinct brought them from the one place to the other. Yes, what they had seen with their eyes of flesh, surrounded by light in the calleja, had guided them firmly and gently to the One there in the church, Who can only be found with the eyes of faith amid the shadows of mystery. In the former place was the wonder of the vision, within the latter was the true security of Him Who is always a Refuge, Who cannot deceive.

A Light in the Way

After their visit to the Blessed Sacrament, the girls walked home. As night fell over Garabandal, darkness fell over the spirits of the four little peasant girls.

As soon as her daughter appeared in the kitchen, Aniceta asked:
Did you see the Angel?

The same question must have been heard in the homes of the other three; and the answers
must have all been the same as Conchita's response to her mother:

No. Today we didn't see him!
Then I went about my work as usual.

Yes, work as usual was what remained. As if the day before had been no more than a meaningless flash of light in the somber life of a village child. Everything would be forgotten little by little, and finally there would only remain the dismal monotony of her poor daily surroundings and work as usual.

No wonder that after supper as she went to bed at a quarter to ten she was not able to sleep.
Her adolescent mind was filled with dejection:

Since I couldn't sleep, I started to pray.
And then I heard a voice that said to me, Don't be troubled; you will see me again.

The voice left a deep impression and Conchita continued praying, although with a much different
state of mind. She went on praying for a long time until finally she fell asleep. And so with a finale of prayer the day of June 19th, 1961 ended; a day of excitement in Garabandal, full of contrasting feelings and contrasting words, varying between hope and fear, between disbelief and desire.