chosen by the Virgin to convey messages
both for individuals and for the world.
This will exemplify some of the things that were happening during the summer days of 1961.
One day in September, Placido Ruiloba, the man from Santander previously mentioned as one of the best witnesses of the Garabandal events, came up to the village with his wife and her father. The father, who already had one of his legs amputated, was concerned that sooner or later the same fate would befall his other leg. «My father-inlaw » — Mr. Ruiloba stated — «went with great faith to the place.»
Like so many other visitors they stopped first at the house of Ceferino, with whom Placido had struck up a warm friendship. They told him all about the condition of the invalid and the desire he had for Mari Loli to petition the Virgin for him in ecstasy, requesting his salvation. That she save at least the one leg that was left!
Ceferino told them that during these days his daughter ordinarily had her ecstasies in the rooms upstairs; and that he, although sorry about it, could not allow many people to go upstairs, because of the danger that the rafters and the ceiling would fall down and cause a disaster; but that specially for this case, he would see to it that they could go upstairs. Minutes later Mari Loli arrived, and the visitors immediately entreated her to remember their request when she would be with the Virgin.
From here they went to Conchita's house, to make the same request. (They transmitted it to Aniceta.) And when they were about to leave, Mr. Matutano,(4) who was there, told them that it would be worth their trouble to remain, since Conchita already had two calls and it would not be long until the time when the Vision came.
And so it was. It happened in the little kitchen of the house, at the usual hour of nightfall. The small group standing around could follow from time to time the girl's conversation that dealt with many things. One of the things that they heard very clearly was the request for the salvation of the man who was there with his leg cut off. That at least they don't have to cut off the other!
The window was wide open so that many persons, who were not able to enter, could follow the trance from outside.(5) After a while, the visionary who was still taken up in the trance—her head tilted sharply backwards, her glance fixed on high — held up her crucifix(6) for everyone to kiss. And when all those in the kitchen had finished kissing it, she put her hand without difficulty through the bars of the window grate, so that those outside could also come up to kiss the sacred image. They were kissing it one after the other with a great deal of emotion. When it seemed that they had all done this — outside everything was totally dark; all that could be seen were the people on whom the light from the kitchen shown — it was observed with surprise that the girl continued to hold her arm outside, as if she were waiting for someone to come. And those inside heard her say, Oh! They don't want to kiss it? Why?
A short pause followed during which the girl's breathing could be heard very clearly. One of those present could not contain himself and went outside to see what was happening. He found a couple trying to hide in the darkness some distance away. He spoke to them and they admitted that they had withdrawn from the window when the girl began holding the cross to be kissed. He and she both considered themselves unworthy to place their lips on the holy article.
It took a little while for the man to convince them that their attitude was mistaken; that even though they felt themselves very sinful, they had no reason to turn away from the one who had come especially in search of sinners; that it was obvious that she was waiting for them, since there was the girl with her arm held out in the darkness, offering the crucifix . . . to them! And they were the only ones who were missing . . . And the girl was not doing this from her own initiative, since one had to do no more than look to see that she was completely removed from everything that was occurring around her . . . Faced with these thoughts, their resistance waned and from far back they came up trembling to place their lips on the image of the one who had invited them and waited for them in such an extraordinary way.
After those final two kisses, the girl withdrew her hand from the window, and minutes later the ecstasy ended.(7)
Almost at the same time Ceferino came asking for Mr. Ruiloba to come immediately, since his daughter Mari Loli had just gone into a trance. They went as fast as they could and came in time to hear how the girl was faithfully making the request that they had given her. This filled them with consolation. But the consolation was followed by amazement when they heard the girl say Oh, has Conchita already asked you this?
Mr. Ruiloba is absolutely convinced that all this had a supernatural cause, since Mari Loli could not have known by any natural means what had just happened in Conchita's ecstasy.
Someone might ask, What is the meaning of all this?
Well certainly the man with the amputated leg remained, as far as his physical condition, in the same situation in which he had been before, without any substantial improvement (now he rests in peace), although with a certain betterment since he was not the same as before with regard to other more important matters. Since he had come with great faith he was not disappointed, and we know that he left Garabandal very satisfied, with a heart full of joyous thoughts. We know that he was thrilled by what he had seen and heard . . . and sure that he had not lost the way. It could not be doubted that on those mountains something happened that affected him in a salutary way, something that, although it could not be explained, had brought him closer to a more important well-being. He could comprehend as never before those words of Christ, It is better for you to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. (Matt. 18: 8)
And what can be said of the recalcitrant couple? Throughout their life they will never forget those minutes of suspense.
They must have suffered intensely with the shame of knowing their unworthiness: the incompatibility on the same lips of sensual kisses and the kisses of the image of the Absolutely Pure. But then also, as never before, they must have been enlightened as to what lengths God will go to bring back sinners, to pardon them and purify them.
That kiss on a night in Garabandal, so unexpected and so urgent, must have marked the life of that couple with salvation. Before God there is nothing without importance.
Sometimes is done by a breeze;
And there are lives that are ruined,
By merely a smile.
If a smile, as the poet Peman(8) writes, could be the ruin of a life, how much more a kiss properly given could be the start of salvation.
4. See footnote 5 from Chapter IV.
5. The kitchens in Garabandal were on the street level.
6. Father José Ramón García de la Riva mentions in his Memorias:
«The girls began carrying the crucifix routinely in their ecstasies from August of 1961. When they had the first call, they went to find the crucifix and hid it in their clothes; when the time of the ecstasy came, they had it in their fingers. During the ecstasy they gave it to the Virgin to kiss; later they sometimes kissed it themselves; and finally they gave it to be kissed by the persons who surrounded them, although not to everyone; and also they made the Sign of the Cross on themselves and on others with it.»
The pious use of holy images, their purpose, and their value from salvation should be understood from this. It can be seen that statues, crucifixes and holy pictures are useful. With their expressions and attitudes, they tell of hidden but certain realities. Is not visual teaching in the forefront today? And images bring to mind persons and facts which have great importance for us, making us aware of them by association of ideas and reflections, recalling to mind and maintaining certain
Speaking to her sister Pauline, St. Therese of the Infant Jesus wrote down in her autobiography:
To the beautiful pictures that you have shown me, I owe some of the sweetest joys and strongest impressions which have inspired me to the practice of virtue. I pass my free time looking at them . . . The little flower of the Divine Prisoner, for example, has inspired me with such beautiful thoughts that I have remained all absorbed in them.
7. Fr. Valentín’s journal shows that this episode took place on the night of September 17th.
8. Peman, poet, dramatist and Spanish orator, born in 1898. His most well-known dramatic works are El divino impaciente about St. Francis Xavier, and Cuando las cortes de Cadiz which tells about the resistance to Napoleon’s French troops at Cadiz.