At 5:45 a.m. on that day, in the freshness of the early morning air and under a clear sky that was beginning to lighten up, a caravan of automobiles including a jeep left Aguilar de Campoo in the province of Palentia. Pulling away from the towering castle, which from afar appears to give the city a crown of crumbling stone walls, the cars got on the highway that would bring them to Cossío by way of Cervera, Piedras Luengas, Polaciones and Tudanca.
|Ábside de la Colegiata de San Miguel Arcángel de Aguilar de Campoo, Palencia, Castilla y León, España (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Fr. Valentín Marichalar, the parish priest, very happy to see that Father Luis María had come, spoke to him, "You've come at the right time, since I have to go to Torrelavega today. I'll give you the keys to the church, and also entrust you with the care of the parish during my absence."
Father Luis was pleased to accept and joked with Rafael Fontaneda.(12) "Let's go, friend, since today I'm the pastor of Garabandal."
Obviously this was an honor and privilege for him. Mr. Fontaneda was sure that Father Luis was extremely interested in everything about Garabandal since his first visit, although he had not revealed his opinion. Father had talked about visions in general, of their forms and types, of the importance of psychological studies for a suitable judgment on these phenomena. It was seen that he had a passionate interest in the subject.
Acting as pastor, Father Luis had the tower bells rung for Mass. And though it was a work day, many people came, both strangers and people from the village. «Some twenty people, among them Conchita, Jacinta and Mary Loli received Holy Communion.»(13)
«The Mass that Father celebrated»—Rafael Fontaneda assures us—«was exceptionally said. All those present were impressed.»
Of this there can be no doubt, since there were so many witnesses. To what was this due?
«At first, some attributed it to the presence of the visionaries. Later, it was related to the fact that this was going to be Father's last Mass, and that somehow he had an unusual premonition.
Also a minor incident may have contributed to it: when going to pour the cruets, they were found empty. The server ran to a neighboring house to find wine, and soon came back with it; but there was a suspicion that it might have been spoiled. Father Luis collected himself a few moments in prayer — his eyes closed, his hands in front of his breast — then he made a sign to serve the wine and the Mass proceeded with complete serenity and devotion. All this, united to the excitement of the apparitions of the evening before and the waiting for those that were expected that day, could have had a decisive influence upon the collective devotion and fervor in the celebration of the Mass. It is certain that the people, on leaving the church, commented on the silence, the piety, and the spirit of faith with which the celebrant and congregation were united in intimate communion before the altar.»(14)
«At 2:11 they went into ecstasy. They smiled, especially Jacinta. Mari Cruz gestured timidly.»
These are the first words that Father Luis wrote down in his notebook. Then he began putting down what he was able to hear of the conversations.
«The Father» — writes Raphael Fontaneda — «was next to the girls, and as he had done on previous occasions, was carefully writing down all that they did and said. But he seemed extremely absorbed in the ecstasy, and those closest to him saw silent tears run down his cheeks.(15) Obviously he felt the presence of something extraordinary.»
Father Luis was not the only one taking notes; there were two other spectators who also were taking down notes so that the main points would not be forgotten; a seminarian from Aguilar named Andrés Pardo, and the renowned Dominican priest, Antonio Royo Marín.
From the notes of one or the other, we know that among other things Conchita said to the vision:
«You know what I'm telling you? That you must give a sign; that . . . only one sign . . . at Lourdes and Fatima you gave a sign . . . Do you want me to show you all that I brought you? (She presents the rosaries and medals.) You have to kiss them . . . How do I look with the short hair? Are you coming this evening? Oh, how nice! . . . How old are you? . . . Oh . . . Three more than I? Six? Oh, yes! I am twelve . . . six more . . . eighteen. Seven more than Mari Cruz.»
Conchita was not the only one talking. Loli asked the reason why the Angel hadn't come. She insisted then in the same request for a sign:
«Give one right now! You always say that you'll give it, that you'll give . . .»
Jacinta took part in the conversation too, asking among other things whether on that night they should be in pairs again as at other times, each pair in a different house . . . (16)
Naturally they talked about the priests that were there that day:
«Two priests came today; one is a Jesuit, and he said Mass very well . . . What is his name? Something like Andrés . . . The Dominican . . . In Santander we saw many Dominicans . . . Father Juan(17) told priests not to come. Why did he do that?»
Father Luis was writing down the incidents of the ecstasy minute by minute:
«2:19: Loli makes a brusque gesture to fall forward. 2:24: Conchita cries. (Was it because of what had happened in Santander? She had just mentioned it). A few seconds later Loli falls and Mari Cruz supports her, holding her up by her back. 2:35: The four fall—we tried to hold them up. They remain with their gaze upward, without blinking. 2:40: They get up and kneel down. 2:43: They go backwards toward the altar of the Virgin of the Rosary; falling down backwards
in front of it with their backs on the ground, they begin to pray the rosary . . . 2:47:
They get up and continue the rosary on their knees. A hand is waved in front of their eyes, and they don't blink; they blink sometimes by their own efforts, but very seldom. A certain rigidity is noted in their jaws . . . When beginning the litany there is almost an appearance of losing equilibrium again . . . They finish the prayer with an Our Father to their Guardian Angel, a Salve to the Virgin of Mount Caramel and an Apostles Creed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The ecstasy ends about 3:00.»
However, during this ecstasy something was predicted for the evening. And the thing would not be insignificant, since they were heard to say, «How long is it going to be? Two hours? . . . Where are we going to be kneeling?»
12. Son and Nephew of Rafael y don Antiano Fontaneda Ibañez, owners of a well-known business.
13. From the notebook of material taken down by Father Luis María himself on that day in Garabandal, and which his brother Ramón now possesses.
14. Sánchez-Ventura, page 115. (Spanish edition)
15. On the following day at Reinosa when Father Ramón María Andreu was informed of these details, he could not hide his amazement, since he stated, He had never seen his brother cry.
16. The one who took down the words of Jacinta and Mari Cruz was a seminarian named Andrés Pardo. He has now been a priest for several years and served on the National Commission on the Liturgy.
17. This seems to refer to the pastor of Carmona, Father Juan González Gómez, a native of Garabandal, who soon adopted a hostile or negative attitude toward the events, and was opposed to priests going up to the village. All those in the village called him Father Juan or simply Juanito.