The duration of August 14th was profuse with wonders. If the tape recording had occurred in the morning, in the evening occurred another series of remarkable phenomena beginning at 8 P.M., first at the Pines and later in the church. Again Loli and Jacinta were the participants. Conchita and her mother Aniceta, who had been working from early morning harvesting hay far from the village, returned straight home to rest awhile and finish their housework. At a late hour Maximina went to see them. She related:
When she came, Aniceta was saying to her daughter, You troublemaker! Don’t you see that your apparitions aren’t true? Why hasn’t the Virgin called you today like the others?
The child answered very seriously, You want me to tell you all about the ecstasies of the other girls?
Yes! Exclaimed Maximina, Tell us about them. Tell us about them since I’ve just come from seeing them.
Then Conchita explained in detail everythingthat had happened, with the stops that the visionaries had made, and the things that they had done. On hearing this, Maximina said, My hair is standing on end! Oh! This is fantastic! That’s exactly how it happened!
Maximina later related:
«Then Aniceta said to me, But Conchita has been with me all this time shut up in the house. She turned to Conchita and asked her, How can this be?
—This is how. While I was in front of the living room, I felt the Virgin calling me by my name. And she told me everything that the others were doing and where they were walking.
And I know more, what the others don’t yet know . . . What the Virgin told me. She told me that we would hear a voice, and then we were to go where it took us.(13)
—Oh heavens—exclaimed Aniceta—and if it takes you over a steep cliff?
—The Virgin would never do that. The Virgin would never take us to a bad place.
She also told me that the time would come when we ourselves would deny, for we would come to doubt everything.
And almost everyone would come to doubt.»
And so during the evening of August 4th, 1961, when she had barely arrived back from her change of environment stay in Santander, Conchita would receive the first secret and confidential communication about something that no one then could have possibly imagined, and which afterward would fall down terribly like a weight of darkness on the mystery of Garabandal: the denial of its visionaries and the falling away of a great number of its followers.
The seers of Garabandal saw and heard what we ourselves now, in the time of faith and hope, can only hope to witness.
But what the girls saw and heard was not the perfect fullness of face to face(14) contact with heaven. The mysterious veil was not pulled completely away from them.
Plácido Ruíloba, a businessman from Santander, one of the witnesses who has seen many things in Garabandal, recalls those times in 1961:
«One day I asked Mari Loli what it was that she saw during the ecstasies and visions in her home, since the ceilings were rather low and would not permit anyone to be in ecstasy above her.
—When I see the Virgin, I don’t see the ceilings of my home. I see her, surrounded with great light.
I also asked her if the Virgin leaned over to kiss the articles that they offered to her. And the girl told me that the Virgin did not lean over, but descended gently from her high position until the articles were in front of her lips.
Another time I asked her whether, when they held the infant in their arms as they had stated many times, they felt his weight like other infants. The girl answered that when the Virgin handed her the infant she felt a great pleasure in holding him; but she noticed no weight, and neither could she press against him. And that she had a similar sensation, very difficult to explain, when the Virgin kissed her.»(15)
Let the theologians see if all this does or does not agree with what has been taught in the Church about the reality of visions and apparitions.
Can such extraordinary concordance with Church teaching, in matters that even many priests are not cognizant about, come from the girls’ environment? Can it be the result of the girls’ abnormal psyche, or their genius for invention?
And let the theologians look at other evidence, collected by this man who questioned the girls intensely:
«Having learned all this from Jacinta’s mother (that the Virgin at times gave them the Infant), I took advantage of an occasion to question Conchita.
—If you held the Infant Jesus in your arms, then you would have touched Him.
—No. One can never touch either the Virgin or the Infant.
—But don’t you hold Him in your arms?
—Yes, we hold Him in them, and because of that we are not able to bring our arms more than a certain closeness to our chest.
—Is He heavy?
—Not at all.
—And when you kiss the Virgin, do you feel the freshness and the softness of her face?
As an answer, Conchita took the hand of one of the spectators and raised it toward her face so as to cover it without touching her mouth and her eyes. And she said, Do you understand now? As if you would kiss your own hand, without feeling it on your lips. Well it is something like that; one sees that he kisses, that he embraces, and nevertheless he feels no touch. Certainly it is she whom we kiss; but we cannot say that we feel either the freshness or anything from her face.
—How can this be?
—We don’t know; but it’s definitely that way. If we wish to reach her with our hands, our hand reaches a point beyond which it can’t go, for she is there. But we don’t feel anything, outside of the sensation that we surely have her there—in front of our hand.»
Moreover, we know that when the children offered the Infant pebbles or caramels that they had saved for Him, both the pebbles and the caramels were found afterwards lying on the ground.(16)
12. In his book, Sanchez-Ventura gives the name, age and address of seven of these.
13. I admit that I can give no explanation for this enigmatic passage. Let us hope that some day it will be made clear to us, since the great mystery of Garabandal is still unsolved.
Note from 1976 — I was finally able to question Jacinta in her home about this puzzling episode . . . without obtaining much light. But something led me to think that the Virgin — with these words spoken to Conchita — might have been referring to the voice of a person who was then alive and was soon going to die: Fr. Luis María Andreu. We know that after his death the girls heard his voice in ecstasy without seeing him. (See the next chapter.) And that mysterious voice gave them much instruction and advice.
14. We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face, now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known. (Cor. 13: 12)
15. Taken from a June 28, 1969 article in the weekly Que pasa? Written by González-Gay.
In a report by Father Andreu, we have another illustration on this subject that apparently belongs to the ecstasy ofAugust 31, 1961:
«Father Valentín indicated to the girls that they should ask the Virgin if she was appearing to them in body and soul . . . The girls asked her, and the Virgin answered that she was not appearing to them in body and soul, but in another way; but that it was she.
Father Valentín had asked this as a proof, since he had read that apparitions are not accustomed to be in body and soul, and the girls were not capable of understanding these things; they knew only to say that they saw the Virgin.»
16. Material taken from Star on the Mountain.