On arriving in Garabandal, they took advantage of the remaining hours of daylight to wander through the quaint streets and alleys. And as it became dark they set out to witness the remarkable things that were happening there. Since it seemed dangerous and difficult to walk or run after the children in the dark night, they went to the church entrance to wait there, as they had heard that very frequently the trances began, or took place, or ended in that sacred place. Only Fernando, the brother of Mrs. Ortiz, on the recommendation of Fidelín, the taxi driver from Puente Nansa, decided to follow up close all the incidents of the phenomena that were taking place.
And the phenomena began. The only thing that came to those at the church were echoes, among them the cries from the children in the crowd, shouting out, There they come! There they come! This did not make a good impression. Mrs. Ortiz was reminded by this, not to her liking, of the running of the bulls in the fiestas at Pamplona.
Toward 10 o'clock in the evening, after a long and oppressive wait, there began to be heard in the courtyard of the church approaching footsteps— firm, rhythmical staccato. Mrs. Ortiz, her brother Pancho, and his daughter went out toward the street to see what it was, and they found a girl in ecstasy coming in their direction, followed by a small crowd.
The girl stopped suddenly at the side of a house in the little alley that leads up to the church, and stayed there several moments, gazing upwards, absorbed in the heavens. At the same time, Mrs. Ortiz, who was very near, was astounded by music like the warbling of many birds, but a marvelous warbling. She turned to her niece and said, Don't you hear anything?
The niece turned her ear toward the visionary, since she had learned that the girls in ecstasy spoke with the Vision. She said to her aunt,
—No, aunt, I don't hear anything. I only hear the singing of many birds, but very softly.
—That is what I hear myself!
The visionary — later on they learned that it was Jacinta — went back again toward the village, without coming to the church, and at that moment all the singing stopped.
Mrs. Ortiz recounted:«On joining our group, we were able to hear some young boys who were walking over the little bridge that stood in front of the courtyard.
—Mother! Mother! Didn't you hear a lot of birds singing?
—Yes, we heard it too, some women replied.
I asked my sister-in-law Maruja, who told me: I also heard it; it seemed like the flight of thousands of birds singing at the same time — and marvelously!
—Did you notice that everything stopped when the girl left?
—No. It didn't occur to me to connect the birds with the presence of the girl.
—Well, it is evident to me that the one thing was due to the other.»
While they were talking, Fernando, who had gone to see the ecstasies near at hand, came. And everyone naturally questioned him:
—«Let us know, let us know. What did you see?
—I don't know how to explain it. I saw faces transformed with sensational sweetness . . .
—Didn't you hear a lot of birds singing?
—No, I didn't hear that . . . But really! What is this ridiculous thing you are asking me about? Birds never sing at night!»
This remark left Doctor Ortiz's wife, who was not familiar with country life, completely bewildered . . . If birds never sing at night, then what was it that they had definitely heard? It could be said to her, Look Señora, those birds that sing in Garabandal are not the same birds that pass the nights perched on the branches of trees.
Besides, this was not the only time in which the most unusual and sweet songs of birds have accompanied the special communications of God with chosen souls. Anyone wanting to know more on this topic should investigate some of the pages from the life of St. Francis of Assisi, or read the chronicles of the ancient monastery of Leyre in the territory of Navarre and Aragón, which speaks of the holy abbot Virila.(31)
In Doctor Ortiz' family — because birds never sing at night, and in order not to be exposed to believing something ridiculous — it was decided for the moment not to speak about this. But later on when the family became sufficiently close with the girls and learned that Jacinta was the visionary on that night, they could not contain their desire of asking some explanation. The girl limited herself to smiling and saying evasively, «My grandmother also said at times that she heard swallows . . . »
31. The archives of the monastery have the name of this abbot listed as beginning in the year 928.