There is abundant evidence that the visionaries were not attached to exhibitionism or spectacularism. Nor did the ecstasies depend on whether or not there was a crowd, although the events came of course for the common good.
Aniceta recalls one night when the weather was very bad — «a horrible night» as she put it —during which she had to accompany her daughter in ecstasy to the cemetery. The good woman admitted that she was afraid, and for nothing in the world would she walk alone at night, and much less take the path that led to the graveyard. This fear disappeared when she went with one of the girls in ecstasy; then she felt different. Now this night she and Conchita, completely alone, went through those solitary, dark, and muddy paths. They stayed for a long time praying for the departed at the gates of the cemetery.
Then coming back to the village, still walking alone in ecstasy, Conchita started to run down the streets and alleys, singing the rosary to which her mother responded the best she could. (She has said that Conchita ordinary sang very badly, «almost as badly as Father Valentín», but while in ecstasy she changed and sang magnificently.) Finally, some people came out of their homes and joined them.
«There is another very interesting point» — continues Father Ramón — «with regard to the visionaries: the concordance of their answers. Many times tricky questions were put to them in order to lead them into contradictions. To evaluate their answers better, the following should be taken into account:
A) The children, when speaking in the normal state, could have all the weaknesses proper to their condition, their situation, etc.; thus they could have memory lapses, inaccuracies of speech, weariness, even going to the extent of telling a lie.
B) Since all four did not have the same visions, it is natural that some of the girls gave information and details that the others did not know.
When it consists of describing things that they have seen, I have noticed that they were all in agreement, provided that they were speaking about things that they had all four seen. On the contrary, there were little hesitations when it concerned naming the dates on which certain events had occurred. It was on this score, more than anything else, that some of them did not agree exactly with some of the others.»
Continuing on, Father Ramón quotes some texts from masters of mystical theology in order to shed light on these experiences, and he ends the discussion with an interesting fact:«Talking on one occasion with the children, I asked them if they remembered what they had seen in their visions. And changing the words of my question a little, one answered this way: What the Virgin said to us I remember well; concerning what I myself said—not so well.
In order to explain some of the phenomena that took place in them, the visionaries were accustomed to using negative expressions. Thus, for example, speaking of the Virgin's voice: There is no voice like hers. Or in wishing to describe what the calls were or what they felt during the marches: Well, the thing is something like this, or I don't know.With regard to the marches, they told me: We go as though we are in the air, as if we are lying down. I don't know, like in another world; but in the daytime, and with the sun. Compare this with St. Theresa.» (Interior Castle, Chapter 5)
The visions of the children of Garabandal could not be counted by days. Beginning from July they began to increase so that they frequently occurred several times each day. The time of the ecstasies varied greatly. Sometimes they occurred at the first ray of dawn, sometimes after dinner. For a long period the usual time for the ecstasies to take place was between seven and nine in the evening. Later they began to occur during the night, ending at times at five o’clock in the morning. This should not surprise us, notes Father Royo Marín(9) with regard to the frequency of the ecstasies and the visions. "In some saints these have occurred on a grand scale. For St. Mary Magdalena of Pazzis, St. Michael of the Saints and St. Joseph of Cupertino, some years of their lives were a continual series of ecstasies." (Theology of Christian Perfection No 465)
There also was much variation in the duration of the ecstasies. Sometimes they lasted only a short time, from two to five minutes. This occurred on few occasions, and always with the purpose of some advice or information with regard to the visions themselves, as: Today I will not come, since they are singing so much, or I will come to see you at such an hour. But ordinarily they lasted a half hour or more. Sometimes (recalling the time when Loli was
in ecstasy from nine at night until five in the morning) the ecstasies were interrupted for a time, as a pause for resting between visions. And the duration of these interludes varied, as in the case just mentioned, when there were two intermissions lasting about an hour and a half.
When the children were in ecstasy, they had the impression that time was standing still. Thus, very frequently after an hour or more in ecstasy, they would exclaim: Don’t go. Why do you go so soon? You haven’t been here more than a minute. What? So long? I thought that it was only a minute . . .
9. A celebrated Dominican priest renowned as a preacher, professor, and writer. Born in Morella (Castellón) in 1913, he lived for many years at San Esteban in the province of Salamanca. He will be mentioned again later on.