It was natural that those who had been witnesses of the events on that afternoon and evening began commenting among themselves on leaving the church. In this group Father Royo Marín said, I'm not infallible; but I am a specialist in these questions; (23) and it appears to me that the visions of the girls are true. I can perceive four positive signs which do not leave room for doubt.
Then Raphael Fontaneda came up and said to him, Father, if the affair is as important as you say, why don't you stay here a few more days to study it better?
Father Marín responded, It's not possible for me to stay now; but this thing is so clear that there's no room for doubt.
And it should be noted that Father Marín had gone up to Garabandal more skeptical than the others; childlike simplicity is not usually the characteristic of clergy who are cognizant of their diplomas and doctorates.
It was late at night when the troop of travelers that had left Aguilar de Campoo at daybreak began the descent from Garabandal — some on foot, others in the jeep. By deference, Father Luis María was made to go down in the vehicle. During the trip all could observe that he was overflowing with an interior joy, and he manifested this in a thousand ways, at the same time declaring his absolute certainty about the truth of what the visionaries had said.
In Cossío it was necessary to wait for those who were making their way down by foot. Father Luis did not get out of the jeep; he was almost asleep when Father Valentín Marichalar, the parish priest arrived. Then he spoke very clearly to the priest in a serious voice:
«Father Valentín, what the girls say is true; but don't repeat around here what I am telling you now. The Church should use great prudence in these matters.»
That night before retiring, Fr. Valentín carefully wrote down in his diary what Father Luis had said to him so seriously at the time of departure.
On the return to Aguilar from Cossío, a different route was chosen than the one used for arrival, longer but better: through Torrelavega and Reinosa. Continuing the description of Raphael Fontaneda:
«In Cossío we departed in the various cars that made up the expedition. Father Luis was asked to go in my brother's car, but he preferred to come with me since he had made the original trip there with me. He sat down in front next to the driver José Salceda; in the back seat were my wife Carmen, my 8 year old daughter Mari Carmen, and myself.
Along the way we were discussing what we had seen that day . . . Father Luis told us that he had exchanged opinions with Father Royo Marín and that they were both in total agreement.
My wife, as well as I and José Salceda were all impressed by Father's deep and intense joy, as well as his conviction. He spoke without haste and many times repeated these phrases. What a gift the Virgin has given me! I can't have the least doubt about the truth of what is happening to the girls.
In Torrelavega we caught up with the jeep that had taken us from Cossío to Garabandal; it was stopped with the people from Aguilar de Campoo. Our driver drove up to see if they needed anything and he and Father Luis talked a few minutes with the passengers.
On beginning the trip again, I said to Father, Father, why don't you try to sleep a little? He accepted the suggestion and slept about an hour, until just before arriving in Reinosa.(24) Then he woke up and said, I've slept very well and I'm in good shape! I feel great. I'm not even tired.
All the rest of us were half asleep, since it was close to 4:00 in the morning. We stopped at a fountain to drink and refresh ourselves. Father Luis then asked the driver if he too had taken something to drink, and José Salceda answered that he had put some water in his eyes, because his eyes had the greater need.(25)
Again on the road, Father returned to his exclamations, I feel myself truly full of joy and happiness. What a gift the Virgin has given me. How fortunate to have a mother like her in heaven! We shouldn't have any fear of the supernatural life. We should learn to act toward the Virgin as the children do. They have given us an example.( 26) I can't have the least doubt about the truth of their visions . . . Why has the most Holy Virgin chosen us! . . . TODAY IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE.
He stopped speaking with the last sentence. Then I asked him something, and getting no answer, I said to him, Father, is something wrong?
No, nothing. I am sleeping. And he leaned his heard forward, at the same time letting out a soft sound as if clearing his throat.
José Salceda turned his head toward him and seeing his eyes, shouted, Father is very sick.
Quickly my wife reached for his wrist to take his pulse, and cried out, Stop! Stop! There's no pulse. There is a clinic here. He must be taken there immediately.
I thought that it was only a case of car sickness, and when the car stopped, I went to open the door while saying to him, Don't worry, Father, this is nothing. It will pass right away with a little fresh air.
But my wife insisted, He should be taken immediately to the clinic.
—Don't talk foolishly.
—Look, He is unconscious!
We took him to a clinic a few meters away and the nurse who opened the door for us told us immediately that he was dead. My wife replied that couldn't be. And that something should be done. The nurse gave him an injection, while José Salceda ran to call a doctor and a priest. The doctor(27) came in ten minutes but the only thing he could do was pronounce him dead. The parish priest came right after and administered Extreme Unction.
After the initial shock and anxiety, we began to act. I telephoned his brother Fr. Ramón, who was in Valladolid preaching the Spiritual Exercises to a community of religious. I also called Aguilar de Campoo and a few hours later my brothers and my brother- in-law arrived. Fortunately Fr. Royo Marín(28) also arrived in Reinosa and he accompanied and consoled us. And toward the middle of the morning Fr. Ramón María Andreu presented himself.»
We can imagine Father Ramón's feelings on finding the dead body of his 36 year old younger brother. The news of his passing away had come as a brutal blow. How could he have anticipated such a thing? Concerning Father Luis' illnesses, he knew only of an allergy to grass and hay that caused him to take medicine in the springtime. And he had good reason to believe him full of health, since at Oña he played sports frequently and during his vacations left with other companions to hike in the mountains. He was a man who walked very much. Everyone expected him to be around for many more years.
But the designs of God are inscrutable.
Father Ramón María, who had received the telephone call in Valladolid at 6:15 in the morning, arrived in Reinosa at 11:00 a.m. After praying before the body, he gathered the few things that belonged to his brother, among them a notebook that he carried in a pocket of his cassock—notebook No. 3—in which he had concisely put down the incidents of the previous day at Garabandal.
Then he was able to converse with Father Royo Marín and from his lips received these statements:
«There is no doubt about Garabandal; the least that one could do is take it seriously. The ecstatic marches are a very clear indication to me. They take place in the darkness, and are so swift that we aren't able to follow the girls. The girls don't look where they are going and they don't stumble over anything; I observed merely slight sliding on top of the wet grass. They hold their eyes wide open but those eyes are dead to all the sensorial stimulation that affects all of us.
Your brother was very learned; he must have been a good professor. He analyzed the thing well and we agreed on everything.»(29)
23. A few years previously he had published an extensive and very documented Theology of Christian Perfection which had great successes in the latin-speaking countries.
24. An important industrial village in the Cantabrian Mountains to the southwest of Santander.
25. All the cars that made up the convoy came to a stop around a fountain on the outskirts of Reinosa. The passengers got out to stretch their legs and refresh themselves; only Father Luis remained in his seat with the car door open.
Gradually most of the other people gathered around him and asked him questions . . .
After awhile the trip was begun again with the priest's car following in last place. On entering the streets of the city, completely deserted at the time, Father began to say these important things that have been transmitted to us by Mr. Fontaneda, and which were the last words of that true son of St. Ignatius.
26. The girls' relationship toward the Virgin appeared now to Father Luis—after his mysterious trance—as normal and proper. On the contrary, the learned of the Bishop's Commission found in that relationship a strong reason for coming to their negative position. How could this be with such imbecile and puerile conversations!
27. Dr. Vicente González. The hospital to which they brought the priest was the Clínica Montesclaros (without doubt in honor of the Virgin of Montesclaros who has a sanctuary not far from Reinosa and is held in much honor throughout the region).
28. Father Royo Marín had relatives in Reinosa and this explains his stop there, as he certainly was not aware of the unexpected death of Father Luis María.
29. Father Royo Marín's opinion about Garabandal was very firm. Ten days later, on August 18th, he called from Castro Urdiales (a city on the coast near Santander) to a group of people who wanted to go with him and Father Ramón to Santander to report the news of what had happened.
«I'm sick with a temperature of 104, and regret that I can't accompany you. But you go to the Bishop and tell him on my part, without any reservation, that what is happening at San Sebastián de Garabandal is supernatural with all certainty. That at least is my opinion. And that he has an obligation to go and see what is happening. If he doesn't want to do so, take him if possible . . . There is a grave duty to accept what God does with sufficient clearness.»
After those days in August, Father Royo Marín did not find the occasion to return to the village. Did he change his opinion? In the beginning of 1965 he was in Santander, preaching at a church in the city. One day, having completed Mass, several people went into the sacristy and asked him, Father, what do you think about the apparitions?
«I wasn't able to return to Garabandal. As a consequence, I have no opinion about what happened after my last visit. But concerning what happened while I was there, I have no doubt that it was true.»