We return now to those days in August.
The pastor from Barro spent the night of August 22nd in Garabandal. He did not sleep well because of the ineffable impression made on him by the phenomena that he had seen, and by the not-so-ineffable impression made on him by the Commission.
«On the following morning, on going outside after Mass, I saw Fr. Valentín next to the narrow bridge that crosses over the little creek. He was talking with Fr. Ramón Andreu. They came toward me and Fr. Valentín told me on the commission's request that I had to leave the village.
I told them that I knew this and even more, and that I really regretted being obliged to leave since my intention was to remain several more days in this village I liked so much.
Then Fr. Valentín spoke with Fr. Andreu for a few seconds and came up to say to me, We have considered something else. You are going to stay here today as the parish priest since I have to go to Santander. He gave me the key to the church and I was very happy since this fulfilled my desire of staying in the village at least another day.
Afterwards I told Fr. Andreu that I felt inclined to write a registered letter to the bishop of Santander telling him about the bad impression that the Commission had made on me. This seemed good to him and so I wrote it.»
After the 23rd of August, 1961, the little church at San Sebastián no longer was to be the scene of the children's trances and games.
«In the afternoon on that day — unforgettable for me — Fr. Andreu told me that the notification had come from the bishop to shut the church doors to the girls while they were in ecstasy.
I was the one who had to comply for the first time with this order. That day on finishing the rosary, recited as usual at nightfall, the girls went into ecstasy . . . On returning from one of their walks through the village, Loli and Jacinta came back toward the church, and I was struck by the way in which they stopped before the courtyard. At the time I found myself with my back to the closed door. Loli and Jacinta were in front of me at the entrance to the courtyard outside. The girls certainly were not aware that the door was going to be shut, for only those who had given the order and I myself knew this.
I heard Loli say, Why have they closed the church to us? We aren't coming to do anything wrong! If it isn't open for us, we won't enter anymore.
Since it wasn't possible for me to enter into their conversation, I then said, You're right. But it's necessary to obey orders.
A woman there present answered, You're only doing your duty.
Everyone could verify that after the 23rd of August, 1961, the visionaries never again entered the church in ecstasy, thus strictly obeying the order from Santander. They satisfied themselves with going around the church with those who accompanied them, reciting the rosary and singing the Salve Regina. And even when the Mystical Communions took place, none of them were given inside the church, but under the roof overhang.»
To better relive the atmosphere of Garabandal in that period of summer, 1961, I want to assemble here some important information from the last days of August, which I have taken from Fr. Valentín's notes.
«August 29th: Conchita went into ecstasy at 11 o'clock and I heard her ask, Aren't all priests good? She made an expression of amazement. Later I asked her about that expression, and she told me that she couldn't talk about it. But finally she explained that the Virgin had told her that actually, Not all priests are good.
August 30th: Conchita sent out of her house (in ecstasy) at 12:10; she made trips through the village. Near the door of the church, she was heard to say, I thought all Jesuits were good.»
I think that this special mention of Jesuits is due to her association with the Andreu brothers.
In those days Loli and Jacinta had several ecstasies in which Conchita did not take part in spite of being present. At those times, Fr. Valentín used her to question the other visionaries. And he wrote down:
«If Conchita makes the questions by word, the girls in ecstasy don't understand; she has to make the questions mentally. The same happened on the previous Saturday, (undoubtedly August 19th) when Jacinta came out of ecstasy and Loli remained in it; Conchita asked questions mentally.
This was repeated on the night of August 30th. Conchita, in the normal state, conversed by thought with Jacinta and Loli in ecstasy, and they answered with words.»
When the registered letter of Fr. José Ramón arrived at the chancery in Santander, Bishop Fernández must have already prepared the first public statement about the events of Garabandal. The diocesan Boletín Oficial published it in its August, 1961 issue. Dated August 26th, it read like this:
In answer to the constant questions that have been asked us concerning the nature of the events that are occurring in the village of San Sebastián de Garabandal, and with the desire to instruct the faithful in the correct interpretation of these events, we have felt ourselves obligated to study these things closely in order to fulfill our pastoral duty.
With this end, we have named a commission of persons of well-known prudence and knowledge to inform us with complete assurance of objectivity and competency about these events.
In view of the information that they have presented to us, we believe it premature to pronounce any definite decision on the nature of the phenomena in question. Nothing up to the present obliges us to affirm that the events occurring there are supernatural.
Considering all this, and withholding a final judgment on the things that may happen in the future, we have to say:
1) It is our wish that the diocesan priests, as well as the priests from other dioceses and religious of both sexes who are not under our jurisdiction, abstain from visiting San Sebastián de Garabandal from now on.
2) We would advise the Christian people not to come to this place until the ecclesiastical authority gives a final statement on the case.
By these temporary measures, we are not hindering God's action on souls; on the contrary, by avoiding the spectacular character of these events, the light of truth is greatly facilitated.
Undoubtedly this first document has a desirable tone of intelligence and prudence that gives honor to the one who composed it. The bishop believes in proceeding in a most cautious manner, based on the trust put in his investigators. But certain of his expressions have to be taken with reserve because of the information that we have previously brought out.
With the information previously given in mind, it is not easy to be convinced that the facts were studied «closely», nor that the Commission informed us «with complete guarantee of objectivity and competence.» And if there is reason to not completely trust the research and official investigators, the statement derived from them that «nothing obliges us to affirm that these events are supernatural» loses much of its strength.
His two recommendations might be very prudent. But if he wishes that the whole judgment of the events be entrusted to the Commission, and the Commission members do not concern themselves much about their obligation, then whose duty is it to investigate, give testimony on, and elucidate these events that are so much beyond the normal routine of Church happenings?
I regret to have to say this; but it seems to me that the actions of the diocesan hierarchy did not proceed in the right direction for the complicated investigation of Garabandal.