He was a martyr because he was an exceptional witness for the cause, even to giving up his life.
He was a victim because he sacrificed his life as a consequence of his total devotion in the service of a cause.
Who was he?
Now let us go back a little in our story, returning to the 29th of July, the date on which the presence of these priests began to be noticed in Garabandal. The two Andreu brothers, Ramón María and Luis María, had come like so many other people, led on
more by curiosity than the expectation of finding anything really important. They went simply to see what was going on because people were talking so much about what was happening there.
They came like many others, without believing.
Then one day Loli and Jacinta had an apparition at the Pines.
And the priests were there, and seeing them in ecstasy, believed.
But they believed not only because of that.
Conchita mentions only a small part of what occurred on July 29th. Now we can complete her description with some detailed accounts of the first visit of the Andreu brothers to Garabandal.
Upon arriving, they were extremely amazed on hearing Chief of Police Juan A. Seco tell the actual story of what had happened on the preceding two days: how the children (in their ecstasy at the Pines on July 27th at nine o'clock on Thursday evening) had learned from the lips of the Virgin all that was happening to their companion Conchita at the same time in Santander, first on Alta Street and then later
in the rectory of Our Lady of Consolation parish. And how Mr. Seco had immediately checked the accuracy of what the children had said by making an official telephone call to the police chief in Santander. After hearing this, the two brothers were astounded with a feeling they could not describe.
—What is this? What's going on? exclaimed Father Ramón.
—Regardless of what it is, it is going to be something really worthwhile, answered Father Luis.
They asked if something else was going to happen that night. Definitely, someone answered. There should be an ecstasy at seven o'clock because yesterday the Virgin told the girls while leaving that she would return today.
Then one of the Fontanedas, who had come with the Andreu brothers from Aguilar de Campoo, could not hide the inner shaking that the waiting was causing him and said to Father Ramón María, This is terrible, Father! Watching the clock while waiting for a supernatural event like this in cold blood!
About three or four hundred visitors were in the village on that last Saturday in July. As the hour drew near, Father Ramón meandered around the town with the others who were showing the excitement of expecting something, without knowing what
it was or where it was coming from. Some started going toward the calleja.
Slightly later a young child appeared who told the group that were waiting, There has already been one call.
The news spread immediately and Father Ramón asked with astonishment, What's that?
Someone explained, First the children receive three calls and then, after that, she comes.
That added another surprise to the many the priest had already received. Certainly this was an intriguing mystery to be carefully examined.(1)
Soon Loli and Jacinta appeared, running toward the cuadro. The commotion this caused was tremendous. Everyone raced toward the place in a disorganized
avalanche. Father Ramón María—in order not run over anyone, and also not be run over himself—kept himself to the side as much as he could to let everyone else pass by. All he could do at the time was resign himself to staying on the fringe of the spectators without being able to follow closely the phenomena that were so intriguing him. In order to be able to follow what was going on, he started to climb up on top of one of the low walls of loose stones that line the calleja in places. Unfortunately the stones began to scatter and fall, making a lot of noise. The people turned to stare, complaining that with such a racket they could not hear a thing that the children were saying in the ecstasies. Then the poor priest tried to hide himself as much as he could to escape from glances that were not overly benevolent.
He was in this situation when he felt someone behind him grab his arms. He turned and saw a giant—or at least at the time that is what he appeared to be—who lifted him up and began to force a way through the crowded circle of enthralled people around the children, while saying forcefully to one after the other, Make way for the authority of the Church.
1. Several days after what we are relating here, the famous bullfighter Alvaro Domencq, who was fighting in a nearby village, came to Garabandal with his father and retinue. He was amazed at what they told him about the events. He followed the visionaries around saying in typical Castellian manner, Did you see the Virgin, Sweetheart? Did you see the Virgin, my Angel?
These men from the bull ring were amazed and amused by the calls that the girls were receiving in their ecstasies. On arriving and having heard someone saying, Be ready, they have already received two "calls," the father of Mr. Domencq joked with his son, Be careful, Alvarito, not to have one tomorrow! (In bullfighter's jargon, a call is a warning that the head of the bullring gives to bullfighters who are not performing well.)