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)
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.