Testimony of the Reverend Fr. Ramón María Andreu.
Regarding his visit to Garabandal on
Father: I would be happy to do so. I arrived in Garabandal on October 17th. During that day and October 18th, I saw an immense multitude of people arrive in the village. This presented much taking into account the difficulty of the way and that the day was an actual deluge. The distance from Cossío, which I traveled on foot, is about six kilometers.
That day I was happy and tranquil. I didn’t have any reason to be any other way. During the months of August and September, and including what had happened in October, I had been a witness to many events in the mountain village. I had many happy memories from those months. Everything seemed good to me.
Question: How were your relations with the Bishop of
Father: My relations with the diocesan authority was excellent. Fr. Doroteo Fernández, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese, had authorized me to go up to Garabandal to say mass, to preach, and to hear confession as well. I had the opportunity to visit the Bishop on various occasions. On these visits I could disclose my personal opinions. The same thing as it refers to me, happened also with Fr. Eugenio Beitia Aldazabal to my brothers, Fr. Alejandro and Fr. Marcelino.
Question: What was the most pressing motive for your visit to Garabandal on October 18, 1961?
Father: You know that the girls had announced that the proclamation of the message would be on this day. I supposed that this would be important. Many people must have thought this because in spite of the difficulties of this day of deluge, there were about five thousand people who assembled in the village that day.
Question: Conchita says in her diary that this immense multitude went up to the Pines around at night to hear the message. Did you ascend also?
Father: Yes, I ascended; I was among the last making this laborious ascent. It was necessary to travel 500 meters up the mountain, and on this day it was wet and muddy. After awhile, I was covered in mud. Some flashlights made light in front and on the sides. The water ran down every part of the mountain.
During the ascent, I slipped continually, and I fell several times. This happened to almost everyone.
I was halfway there when I suddenly felt a brutal, intense inner bitterness. It was a mixture of these sad feelings that was difficult to define. In that moment, everything seemed to crumble away for me. It was an extreme impression of intense loneliness. The four girls were nothing more than sick children. I asked myself: Why am I here? My brother had died, and that was all that was definitively true. This painful internal state worsened for a few moments. I can say truthfully that never in my whole life had I felt such intense desolation.
I thought about abandoning that which had not yet happened; I felt like it was nothing more than a sad village joke.
I was still for a little while. Sometimes I looked at the sky. I know that at that moment I would have liked for the miracle that the girls had announced to happen. My deception was absolute.
I changed places and stayed there for awhile; I cannot say how long it was that I was alone, feeling people pass me going up to the Pines in the darkness. It was dark and silent. I have never felt more alone.
Suddenly, a lantern shone in my direction. A friend who was descending from the Pines recognized me. He came to where I was.
─ This is marvelous, he said to me.
I let him say this while I thought to myself that tomorrow he would understand how absurd all of this was.
I descended to the village with him, without showing anything of what I was thinking. We entered a house where they were already waiting for us. After a little while, Amaliuca, Loli’s sister, entered. She came towards me and two others and said to us:
─ Loli says that you, you, and you should come.
I heard her, but I didn’t want to go. Finally, I said: I will do a work of mercy; I’ll visit the sick. And I decided to say goodbye definitively.
Question: And did you go to Loli’s house?
Father: Yes. I went up to the attic of Ceferino’s house. There were a number of people there, it was a group of 12 or 14, and Loli was with them. The girl seemed content, even happy. I was thinking about the thoughtlessness of this girl and the others when Loli smiled and said to me:
─ Sit down.
There was no chair. But there was a type of cot in the corner. I sat automatically on the end of it. Loli sat next to me. She was 12 years old but she led the conversation, which will live in my memory forever.
─ Among the three of you, there is one who does not believe. She said: Do you know who it is?
─ Yes, I told her. Do you?
─ Yes, I know, she answered me. The Virgin told me.
─ Just now, when I was coming down from the Pines.
─ Tell me who it is, I insisted.
─ I don’t dare, was her response. If it was one of the other two…
─ Yes, it’s me, I affirmed. I don’t believe any of it.
A smile of intelligence appeared on Loli’s childlike face and she added:
─ The Virgin told us: The Priest is doubting everything and is suffering very much. Call him and tell him not to doubt, that it is true and it is I, the Virgin, who is appearing. And so that he will believe you, tell him: “When you went up you were happy, when you came down you were sad.”
I was stupefied; I looked at Loli, unsure of what to say. And she added:
─ She talked a lot about you to Conchita.
In that moment I got up; I was confused, but I understood then that I had not arrived at my final goodbye.
I took my two friends who were looking fixedly at my face while they said to me:
─ What did she say to you? What happened?
Without responding to these questions, I pushed them saying:
─ Let’s go to Conchita’s house.
Aniceta opened the door. My greeting was this question:
─ Can I see Conchita?
She is already in bed, Aniceta said, but you can go up.
There were no doors to open. I went up the few stairs and I arrived at her room and called to her there, where Conchita was in bed with her cousin Luciuca. Conchita was 12 and her cousin was 11.
As soon as she saw me she said before I could open my mouth:
─ Father, are you happy, or are you still sad?
─ I didn’t know how to respond. I answered, Loli told me that the Virgin spoke about me to you.
─ For at least fifteen minutes, she answered.
─ And what has she told you?
─ I can’t say, was her response.
─ Then I will remain the same as before, I commented in a loud voice.
Conchita smiled and said to me:
─ There is something that I can tell you: “When you ascended, you were happy, and when you descended, you were sad. The Virgin told me everything you were thinking and when you were thinking it. You thought, now I’m going to
I was left without words. The next day Conchita showed with her finger on a photograph the exact spots on the mountain where I had been thinking each one of these things. It was something important for me. All that Conchita had said was true. She told me for the Virgin: “All of this has happened in advance so that you will not doubt again.”
I have experienced other moments of doubt, but none has been as anguished as the one on October 18th. Frequently, I have been given the news—including official decisions—which have ended the matter. But I have seen time and time again the same questioner stay open to it.
The experience of October 18, 1961 has served me in many ways: to question how the girls, especially Conchita, could know so much detail about an internal experience of mine, and then tell it to me with such clarity and sureness.