In his work entitled The Spectator, José Ortega y Gasset labeled the summer that inspired his work as lazy. The summer of 1961 at Garabandal could be labeled singular and marvelous. Singular, because never had its like been seen. Marvelous, because the remarkable events that happened every day were not everyday occurrences.
Some have already been mentioned; others cannot be written down; but it would be unpardonable not to mention the rest.
Who they were and how they acted during Conchita's stay in Santander has already been stated. Following this, we know that during the summer of 1961 the distinguished Doctors Piñal and Morales condescended to go up to Garabandal for a few hours, to cast a supercilious gaze on the remarkable things that were occurring there.
Eye witnesses inform us that Dr. Morales was in the village on July 11th. The well-known and renowned psychiatrist from Santander interrogated the girls one after the other, and employed all his persuasive art to make them cease their madness of praying at the Calleja. In his efforts to convince, it is not known whether he resorted to the same arguments that Dr. Piñal had employed against Conchita: many promises, if she would give up once and for all this stupidity; and threats of dire consequences, if she continued with her incredible story.
Actually Dr. Morales believed he had fully succeeded in his plans, since the girls, after his indoctrination, finished with an attitude of admirable docility: Sí, Señor, sí; we will do what you say.
Following this, Dr. Morales, self-satisfied and sure of himself, aware of his importance and high position, went to the Calleja to put an end to this affair publicly; and facing numerous persons there waiting for the time of the ecstasy, he pontificated:
You are wasting your time. The girls will not come here today. This farce is ended. I, Dr. Morales, assure you of this. You can leave.
And turning around, he began to descend with the person who was accompanying him.
They had not gone far, when they heard a noise and were able to see the girls who were responding to the call of the Virgin in a swift run.
It could be seen that there was a force acting upon the girls which was not yielding to the desires or decisions of Dr. Morales.(1)
Approximately on this date — I cannot give the date exactly — occurred the scene caught on a photograph taken at the beginning of the events: Dr. Piñal, at the side of Mari Loli in ecstasy, putting drops in her eyes . . . Why? According to the reports, he did this not so much to see the girl's reaction — an action which would have been justified, since that should have been his reason for being there: to observe and investigate — as to see if he could succeed in bringing her out of the trance, showing everyone by this that there was nothing genuine about the phenomena.
But the girl remained entirely absorbed in herself, completely oblivious to him, without the slightest blinking, without her senses noticing the drops with which Dr. Piñal was bothering her.
Obviously the ecstasies did not depend on human desires or designs. They began when some mysterious Being decided they would begin, and they ended when the same Being ended them. Just as Dr. Piñal was unsuccessful on this occasion in attempting to end the ecstasy, equally unsuccessful were other doctors on other occasions in attempting to bring them on. Man can do many things; but there are many more that are beyond his abilities. And it is wise to be able to recognize the difference.
The mentality of the Bishop's Commission cannot pass unnoticed by the reader. The few times that they bothered to go to the place of the events, they seemed to go mainly to search for means to put an end to these things, and to discover proofs that they could use for their negative attitude of rejection.(2)
But not all came with the same mentality.
The serious and impartial investigations, that those who had the duty did not want to make, were made by others who came with an open mind. In those days of August another doctor from Santander, who dedicated himself conscientiously to observing and studying the events, came up to Garabandal for the first time. His name was Celestino Ortiz Pérez; his specialty was pediatrics, in which he had earned a broad reputation.
He compiled a meticulous and elaborate report, containing his observations from many visits to Garabandal between the 15th of August, 1961 and the 25th of November, 1962.
He carefully studied the personal and familial predispositions of the children, their conduct and attitude before and during the events, their character, their intellectual level, how they slept, their reflexes, the ecstatic phenomena. After gathering all this information in his investigation, he reviewed the possible natural explanations: hysteria, hypnotism, catalepsy, pediatric psychiatric diseases; and he came to these conclusions:
«1. The four girls, from the point of view of pediatric psychiatry, have always been and still are perfectly normal.
2. The ecstasies — in which we have seen these young girls so often — cannot be included in any of the categories of physiological or psychological pathology that are now known.
3. Considering the length of time that the phenomena occurred, if they had any kind of pathological nature, its signs would have been easily discovered.
4. I cannot find any explanation either in normal or pathological pediatric psychology that could be held out as a natural explanation for these phenomena which, according to the knowledge that we have at our disposition, are beyond natural reality.»(3)
1. «On Tuesday, the 11th, Dr. Morales and Dr. Piñal came. I do not know the professional opinion of these doctors; what I do know is that Dr. Morales said that on Tuesday nothing would happen, since if the girls had been influenced, he would un-influence them . . .
When the girls went up to the Cuadro, he was in their path; the girls passed without paying attention to him, and then they were in ecstasy about 60 minutes.
On the following day, they commented: Didn't the Carmelite say that we wouldn't see the Angel anymore? (Dr. Morales had said that he was a Carmelite.)»
(Fr. Valentín's notes.)
2. Here is another example of their manner of acting. A reliable witness assured me of the accuracy of this confidential remark from Father Valentín:
«I went to Santander on the afternoon of August 15th. I was with the Commission and with Pajares, (Father Francisco Pajares, the old secretary of the bishop) whom I found clear-headed as always; not like Piñal, who appears to be super-endowed. He gave me some advice and since it seemed to me that he was going beyond his position, I answered that I would only do what the bishop told me. Then he spoke about the girls in terms that I didn't like, That they lied, that when they put themselves in a trance, they put themselves like . . .»
3. Many other competent doctors from Spain and foreign lands have had the same feeling as Dr. Ortiz Pérez. We remember Dr. Alexandro Gasca because he spoke out very openly. (Dr. Gasca, who later held an important post in the heath department of Saragossa, was at the time of the apparitions the doctor for the Nestle factory in Santander and provincial medical inspector of the Department of Health.) Also there were Doctors Sanjuán and Puncernau (Barcelona), and Dr. Apostolides, the chief of staff of the Pediatrics Service in the Central Hospital of Troyes (France).
Also it is known that Dr. Jiménez Díaz (now departed), a professor emertius of medicine at the Clínica de la Concepción (Madrid), in front of some colleagues and students who were joking one day about the phenomena of Garabandal on the 8th of October, 1961, expressed his opinion that the least that could be done in the face of such phenomena was to take them seriously, because they dealt with a serious matter . . .
With regard to the medical professionals, I have remembered many times the statement of Jacinta, the little girl from Fatima, during the days of her sickness and martyrdom in a Lisbon hospital, The doctors don't succeed better and more often since they have little love for God.
Certainly this can be said about others beside doctors, and it does not apply to all doctors.