Size with wonderful duvet) was calling me again.
Simon frequented the church and would spend hours in prayer before the altar of the Virgin Mary. Many times, in his deep meditation, he would ask the Holy Virgin to inspire him what he might do to please her. Once, while he was absorbed in the spiritual contemplation of the beauty of the Holy Mother, he lost consciousness. His prayer then found its answer for he heard a clear voice that tried to rouse him from slumber: “Simon, wake up; be on the watch…. From now on your name will be Simon Vela. Go to Peña de Francia west of this country, and there you will find the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
For five (5) years Simon Vela traveled far and wide among caves, hills and mountains, in search of Peña de Francia but he could not find the place. He wanted to give up the search, and was in fact already on his way back to Paris, when one night he heard the same voice once more saying: “Simon, do not give up the search; do not give up what you have begun. Persevere and your labors will be recomposed.” This suddenly buoyed up his spirits and so he resumed his search the next day.
Simon went to the Church of Santiago de Galicia. And while he was passing the market place of Salamanca, he saw two men quarreling. One was seriously wounded and fell at Simon’s side. The offender was caught by the crowd who milled around them and he brazenly remarked: “Had I killed my enemy, I would have escaped to Peña de Francia where no one, not even the king, could find me.” Simon was overjoyed when he heard this for now he knew that such a place did actually exist.
Several hours afterwards he resumed his way to the church of San Martin. On his way he met a man selling charcoal. Simon asked the man where he came from, and the man said he came from a place called Peña de Francia. This was the second time that Simon heard the name of the place mentioned. He then begged the man to guide him to the place called Peña de Francia but for some reason the latter refused to do so.
Simon traced the road through which he thought the man has passed. He then reached a villa called San Martin de Castañar on May 14, 1434. He went to church and after the mass, he asked a man to kindly indicate where Peña de Francia was. The man took Simon Vela to a place some distance from the church and pointed to him a hill in the far distance saying that the hill was the Peña de Francia he was looking for. Simon was very grateful and thanked God for having found the man who showed him the place of his dream.
Simon then set out for the place indicated and, after a long weary journey, came to a steep rocky hill. By this time his supply of provision had already been depleted and he was beginning to feel the pangs of hunger. The climb over the hill had considerably weakened him but he lost no heart for he knew deep within him that God had not forsaken him to a fruitless and useless search. And indeed how right he was for on the road otherwise abandoned he found a packet containing a loaf of bread and piece of meat. This relieved him so much until night overtook him and he sought shelter in a cave. Inside he prayed for guidance and soon he was lost in deep slumber.
Early in the morning of the next day, Simon began the search for the shrine in every cave where he had slept the night before. He felt distressed and discouraged for his seemed as distant as it was when he started. He knelt and prayed for strange and courage. And soon he heard the same voice he had heard before sounding clearly through the cave: “Simon, be awake: do not sleep.” Simon continued the search with more zeal in the morning of the next day. At a distance on a rocky hill, he saw a glaring and dazzling light filling the place with its brilliance. Trembling with joy, he approached it and there he found the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus in her arms sittings on a golden throne. He Knelt before her and prayed with all the fervor of his soul. Overflowing with ineffable joy he said: “Oh, Lady, the dream of my soul, the inspiration of men and women! My labors are now ended. Many years have I traveled far and wide to seek you and to drink in the beauty of your eyes! Do not forsake me: be my protection.”
In sympathy for Simon, the Lady answered: “Simon, rejoice! Your constancy will be rewarded. Your dream will be realized. Your labors are now ended. Take heed and keep in your heart what I wish you to do. Dig in this spot and take what you can see and place it on the summit of this rocky hill. Build on this hill a beautiful dwelling. You are to begin it and others will come to finish it.. This must come to pass as it has been the wish of my child.” Then the Lady suddenly disappeared and Simon was left standing alone and rooted in the spot with wonder and awe.
On the morning of May, 1434, on the spot where the apparition of the Holy Virgin disappeared, Simon began the work of digging and excavating. He, however, heard the same voice again saying: “Simon, do not attempt to undertake that big task alone. Undertake it in the presence and with the help of two, three, or more persons.” Evidently this was to avert any doubt or suspicion from people as to a veracity of the miracle and the credibility of Simon. So Simon went to San Martin de Castañar, a nearby town from the spot, and asked five men to help him. They were Anton Fernandez, Pascual Perez, Benito Sanchez, Juan Hernandez and Antonio Sanchez, the parish scribe of the place.
These men thought that they were digging for hidden treasure but they were informed that they were going to dig for the objects worthier than world goods their hearts could cherish. They dug and dug, clearly following directions from divine inspiration, and, finally, on May 19, 1434, after removing a huge stone, they found imbedded among the rocks, the most coveted image of the Holy Virgin with the Child in her arms... the Black Madonna. Right then and there, all five men received special graces from the Lady. Simon Vela, who suffered a head wound during the excavations was instantly cured; Pascual Sanchez' defect in the eye disappeared; Juan Fernandez was relieved if stomach trouble that had been nagging him for ten years; Antonio Fernandez who had been deaf could hear; and Benito Sanchez' crippled finger was healed. The official document of these miracles and this discovery, duly signed by those present and a Notary Public, is preserved in the archives of San Martin de Castanar.