Thursday, September 1, 2011
Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter VII)
The Ecstasies Seen from the Exterior
I’ve witnessed numerous ecstasies: 200 or more. There were the four girls together, three at a time, two at a time, or one alone. The ecstatic walk was normal or was accomplished with great speed. The went forward or backward. Through the village, in all the little streets, often in the “Calleja” which ascended up to the Pines; they climbed up to the Pines or descended down from them.
I point out here the extreme astonishment of those who were witnesses of this descent from the Pines. They never took a good path.
It is known that there are no good paths for going down. Nevertheless, there are some that are better than others, although they all are bad. The little shepherds and their sheep know them well.
The visionaries descended by paths that no human, no animal would have taken, even goats. A person in good faith cannot pretend that these descents can be explained — in a natural way — especially when they were made backwards, even backwards on their knees. Especially if they were regarded in their posture — let us say uncomfortable — the figure straight and head bent backwards, the eyes fixed on their vision.
Who can dispute this “abnormal” and definitely real happening that can be studied and should be studied?
If an adversary of good faith exists, I propose to him to perform himself “the exercise” on the terrain, in the same way, under the same conditions, especially during the dark night, in the snow and on the ice. Not only one time, but almost every day, as at the time of the apparitions.
During the course of these ecstasies, in all the locations, I heard the children talk with their Vision. In a hushed voice, intimate at times, but intelligible. These conversations were perfect in the sense that it could be perfectly known that they were responding to questions from the Virgin or the Angel; or that they were asking them themselves. In the latter case, the young girls were never afraid of annoying Our Lady of Mount Carmel or St. Michael — they listened to the beloved voice with the most rapt attention.
It was evident to everyone that this was a dialogue perfectly coordinated, for the accurate convenience of the interlocutors of Heaven and earth.
On the visionaries’ side, their conversations were the most varied.
They talked about everything when their turn came. From the things that they did, to those that they had heard spoken about. They recounted what was happening in the village, at their homes, in the fields, in the pastures. They requested cures, conversions, miracles. “So that the people believe us,” they were heard to say. They confided to the Virgin messages written by the spectators and gave back responses to them in a clear voice in public or privately. Sometimes it was necessary to wait a more or less long time for them to obtain permission from Our Lady of Mount Carmel to repeat what they had heard at the time the questions were presented.
I have seen the little girls give rosaries, crucifixes, medals, scapulars, holy cards for the Vision to kiss.
One day in front of me at Conchita’s house, Loli put on the right hand of a woman the wedding ring that at the request of the woman herself, as was the custom, she had first presented to the lips of the Virgin. Then advised by the Virgin, I saw her remove the ring from that finger and put it on the ring finger of the other hand. The spectators thought the child had made a mistake. Not so. Filled with wonder and all in tears of joy, the person involved stated, “The Virgin knows well that in the region of Valencia where I came from, the wedding ring is worn on the left hand, contrary to the Spanish custom.”
Loli did not stop there. She told the wife the name of her husband, whose name was completely unknown to Loli prior to hearing it from the lips of Her who revealed it. This happened at Conchita’s home, and not at Loli’s, on the 12th of September, 1961, in my presence.
The entry into the ecstasies was always made in the same manner. The head was brusquely thrown backwards and did not return to its normal position until after the Apparition had left. They fell on their knees instantaneously. There was such force in their fall to the ground on the sharp or flat stones, that their kneecaps cracked as if they were broken. Spectators, and especially the mothers of the seers, were struck with fear. They entered into ecstasy as if they were struck by lightening — the word is not too strong. When they came out of it, also suddenly, they had neither a wrenched neck, nor a sore back, nor a broken bone. Not in the least fatigued, they smiled sweetly at the spectators.
The conversation with their Vision began while standing still or while marching. If they were caught up into ecstasy in their homes, they almost always went out into the village. They passed through the little streets, went around the church, went down to the cemetery, went up to the Pines, knocked at the villagers’ doors at all hours, greeted the sick — eventually also the well — knelt in front of the pictures of the departed while praying for them.
The ecstasies would seize them everywhere: at home, under the church portico, at the Cuadro, at the Pines, at the home of another visionary. It was the same when they returned to the normal state.
The ecstasies lasted from five minutes to one or several hours. There was one of seven hours.
It was marvelous to see the ease with which a young girl in ecstasy lifted up, without the least effort, one of her companions who was also in ecstasy. She would do it with a single hand, raising her companion above her shoulders, to have her kiss the Virgin when she was higher than usual. But, experimenting in the normal state, we have noticed that they were not able to lift another one up to half her height, even when using both hands at the cost of great effort.
When together in a group, they were aware that the others were walking, but each one thought that she herself was remaining immobile without taking part in the common walk.
If one of them was in ecstasy, she was seen by the others, even if they were not in the same place.
When two seers came from different places during their ecstasy, they showed their joy on meeting together, sometimes holding the other’s arm to follow the same path together. At other times, the meeting passed, each one followed her own path.
One would see sometimes a group of persons accompanying a single visionary and praying behind her, while another group did the same following another visionary.
During the ecstasies, the girls recited the Rosary very slowly, very piously. These moving prayers have been recorded on a tape recorder. Those who have had the occasion to hear them have been as surprised as favorably impressed.
The girls recited these rosaries while going to the Pines or the cemetery, while making a circle around the church, while visiting the houses, or while traversing the little streets.
If during the ecstasies, one of the girls lost a shoe or slipper, another of the girls would have to put the shoe back on, whether or not this other one was in ecstasy. If one of us tried to do it, the child would take the shoe off immediately.
At the beginning, the ecstasies took place at the Cuadro, that is to say, at the square, on the path that led to the Pines. The Cuadro was the name given to the place of the apparitions in the Calleja because the young people of the village had fenced it off in the form of a square, made from tree trunks to isolate the visionaries to protect them from the crowd.
On August 8, 1961, the ecstatic marches began. On that day, according to Father R. P. Royo-Marin O.P., who was present, the little girls seemed to have wings on their feet while making their way to the church.
At the beginning, the doctors and the priests made numerous experiments to test if the children were really in ecstasy; if, for example, they were sensitive to pain: burnings, pin pricks, etc.. They were never able to make them manifest any sensation of pain. Later, to avoid abuses, the young people surrounded and protected the children with their arms. As Ceferino, the father of Loli, said: “For the tests, that’s enough for now.”
While in ecstasy, they revealed the names of certain spectators. They knew and made known the exact number of priests who were in the village at the time. One day they disclosed that there was one more priest than was seen. The person concerned was convinced, admitting that he had dressed as a layman for the occasion. For myself, one day Loli revealed my name and surnames, adding that my parish was dedicated to the Virgin.
To other persons, the girls revealed facts from their past, without omitting certain secrets of conscience.
Generally the end of the ecstasies occurred in the following manner. As one could surmise from their gestures — the girls told about it later — the visionaries kissed the Holy Virgin on both cheeks. Then they made their extraordinary sign of the cross. They bowed their heads slightly and returned to the normal state, smiling gently. No other manifestation, or other unusual gesture. Immediately calm and always smiling, they answered the questions of the persons surrounding them.
Regardless of the length of the ecstasy — there were some very long ones that I am going to mention — the young girls always had the impression they only lasted a brief moment — “un poquitin” — as they repeated.
One could hear them say at the end to the Virgin, “Do not leave yet. Stay. Un poquitín más.” (a little bit longer)
Sometimes Conchita went even farther. I only noticed this at her home. She made the sign of the cross intentionally wrong. She restarted several times while smiling. Finally, she made the sign of the cross correctly and the Virgin left.
Truly, as Father Luis Andreu repeated before dying: “We have a very good mother in Heaven. We should not fear the supernatural. The children have taught us how we should comport ourselves toward her, having a child-like confidence in her.”
The end of the ecstasies was very beautiful. Even when one has seen it, one cannot describe it exactly.