That day an old woman from the village started to lead the rosary. The girls took their normal place within the Cuadro. And for a while the prayer continued without anything happening; it seemed that the Angel was in no hurry. Our men, who had not come there strictly to pray, lacking better entertainment, amused themselves by watching the old woman who was leading the prayer. Her face showed such compunction, such devotion, such an appearance that it made them howl with laughter. But their laugh froze abruptly; for suddenly with a quick
seizure and a sharp thrust of their heads upwards, the four girls left their normal state.
«To see that transformation, while watching their faces» — later confessed Faustino González to Dr. Ortiz of Santander — «we experienced such emotion that tears poured out from us, even though we were hard as stone.»
The return to the barns in the warm air of the night was made in a much different manner than the going. When they gathered together again in the cabin, they could talk about nothing else except what they had seen and heard. Sleep did not come; and then one of them suggested that they stop talking and pray the rosary, even though it would be no more than a reparation for the offense to God and the Virgin caused by their foolishness in mocking what was going on.
They all accepted the idea well — for one time their inveterate human respect did not matter — and in the solitude of the mountain night, with the light accompaniment of mooing from cows, the stable heard for the first time or as never before, a rosary from men who had felt near at hand the unexplainable presence of God.
That night must have left its mark on the herdsmen since a month and a half later when Celestino Ortiz made his first trip up to Garabandal, he was «pleasantly surprised by the attitude with which those rustic men prayed the rosary in the streets, as they accompanied the girls with their heads respectfully uncovered.» He spoke about this with one of them, and received this response:
«Those of us who graze cattle in the mountains come down to the village on Saturdays to pray the rosary with the girls. We take care of the cattle earlier than on other days so that rosaries like these won't be missed. They are worth a thousand of those we've said before in the church.
—Isn't that a little exaggerated?
—No, doctor. No. In the church we are distracted many times; but here we pray and go on thinking.»
|Rosary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|