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In the little mountain village of San Sebastián de Garabandal,(1) century after century had passed without history; then one day . . .
1. There are approximately sixty houses built of stone in the village, and arranged in typical rural style. They are grouped together on top of a narrow plain, irregular in outline, about 2000 feet above sea level, giving the appearance of a wide open Y.
The entrance to the village is from the bottom of this Y, that points downward to a river below flowing into the Cantabrian Sea. An extremely bad road comes up from Cossío some six
A Sunday Like Any Other
The calendars in the kitchens were turned to the page for June, 1961, showing: Sunday, the 18th. St. Ephrem, Doctor of the Church, Sts. Mark and Marcellian, martyrs. So what? It was just one more among the countless days that passed without event in the little world of Garabandal.
Nothing ever happened there worth telling.
It was in the great world on the other side of the mountains where things were happening. Most of these were disturbing: men and nations stirred up with unrest, greed, anxiety, revolts; concerned about the future with cold wars and real ones on all fronts. What did the coming days hold?
As a ray of hope in the face of all these problems that appeared to have no human solution, within the walls of the Catholic Church in Rome plans were underway, with great anticipation to prepare a new council: Vatican II. It would be convened by John XXIII, Good Pope John, as many called him affectionately. Even with his eighty years, this man spoke with inspiration and hope in his heart like the blossoming of flowers in springtime.(2) Through his efforts and by his decree, hundreds of eminent scholars set out to sound out the world, seeking to assist it.(3) As a result of their search, things like these were soon to be proclaimed to the council assembly:
The upper part of the Y opens toward the south-southwest to a magnificent display of mountain peaks ending on the one side with the Peña Sagra chain (2,016 meters) and on the other side, farther away and more to the south, with the Peña Labra chain (2,010 meters) that overlooks vast sections of the provinces of Palencia and Santander. From here rivers flow toward these bodies of water: the Cantabrian Sea, the Mediterranean (by way of the Ebro River), and the Atlantic Ocean (by way of the Pisuerga River).
In this region, Garabandal is the last village before those imposing mountain tops from which it is separated by miles of silence and solitude amid terrain of savage beauty.
2. On January 25th, 1959, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, in the famous Basilica St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Pope publicly announced his proposal to convoke a new council.
3. On June 18th of that year, Cardinal Tardini, president of the Preparatory Commission, wrote to the cardinals, bishops, and the heads of the religious orders, Catholic universities and[To be continued]
seminaries requesting suggestions and topics for the council.