Let us return to the report of María Herrero on September 12th, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary:
«Toward 8 in the evening, at twilight, the girls traveled through the village in ecstasy and headed toward the road going down to Cossío. This was the first time that I saw them leaving in that direction. I didn't follow them since I was exhausted from a lot of running after them, from one spot to the next, on a rather hot afternoon.
The feast of the Holy Name of Mary was the feastday of my name, and of course, that of the one who bore that sweet name like no one else. Because of this, I had mentioned to Conchita that she should congratulate the Most Holy Virgin on my behalf . . . I had been thrilled to learn that on one occasion she had made Conchita give her congratulations on his feastday to a certain man who visited San Sebastián de Garabandal with devotion.
Aniceta had forbidden Conchita to venture out on the nearby road that led out of sight of the village. On this occasion, Conchita, seeing herself prevented from following the Vision and her companions, began to cry out loud, imploring her mother to permit her to continue onward. Aniceta was so struck by Conchita's voice, full of suffering, that she felt convinced (according to what she herself told me) of not finding herself simply before the voice of her daughter, but before a strange force that came out of Conchita and her voice. She had no other solution but to let her leave.
And then the four girls began a swift march toward Cossío, so rapid that the people following them were not able to keep up. Then I decided to run after the crowd, too; but I felt exhausted, and from time to time I had to stop to catch my breath . . . Fortunately, the girls also slowed down to pray in a loud voice, accompanied by a crowd.
On coming to the little wooden bridge that crosses over the ravine, at the bottom of which a waterfall flows, they stopped completely. And returning to the Pines, they continued their prayers there . . .
Beneath a cloudless sky covered with stars, on a clear transparent night, the Hail Marys were being counted out slowly, as if imbued with an infinite fervor.
The fifteen mysteries of the rosary followed like this, one after the other—without hurry, as the girls were accustomed to pray in ecstasy. Everything encouraged MEDITATION.
Somehow I understood then more than ever Conchita's phrase calling the Cuadro her little piece of heaven . . . I myself had this little piece of heaven on the twelfth of September, 1961, in the prayer of the night, enveloped in silence and solitude.»(24)
On that 12th of September, in a more private ecstasy following the one that María Herrero has just described, some interesting things occurred in Conchita's house, I say, in Conchita's house, since the girl herself was not there . . . Father José Ramón García de la Riva describes it to us in his Memorias:(25)
«Loli was in ecstasy and there came the time — so familiar to many and for all so moving — of returning to each one of the owners the multiple articles that had been kissed by the Virgin. As usual the girl, without looking and without erring, began her task, taking the articles one by one from the pile where they were all piled up and jumbled together.
She came in turn to a wedding ring. Loli took it and gave it to a woman, putting it on the customary finger of her right hand. (European custom) But almost immediately, and giving the impression that she was following hidden instructions, she took the ring from that finger and put it on the corresponding finger of the left hand. The woman could not contain her feelings and broke out in tears.
The reason? She was from Valencia and had understood the Virgin's refinement, since in her area —as she told the people around her—wedding rings were not accustomed to be worn on the same hand and finger as in the rest of Spain, but instead exactly where Loli had put hers . . . The thing didn't end there. Loli also told the name of her husband, which the woman had absolutely not revealed to anyone.»
Another episode, following this one right at the foot of Conchita's bed, occurred during a very prolonged ecstasy of Loli and Jacinta.
«I had already given everything I had at hand so that it could be kissed by the Virgin, and I cannot explain now the reason why I also gave Conchita the camera in its case during the ecstasy of the other two girls. (It was known that only by means of one of the visionaries who wasn't in a trance could the rest of us communicate with the girls in ecstasy) . . . »
And so begins the remarkable tale that Father José Ramón describes in his Memorias under the title of The Story of the Virgin's Photograph, and which I am not going to reproduce here so as not to lengthen this chapter excessively.
Certainly memorable during the apparitions in Garabandal was the first feastday of the Holy Name of Mary!
It was now the pre-autumn season, peaceful and enchanting, and the vigils of prayers and meditations under the stars —like that which took place at the little bridge over the ravine— were wonderful. However, simpler vigils composed of amicable conversations in the kitchens of the homes had their own charm. María Herrero described one of the latter type like this:
«One evening after the apparition, I found myself alone with Conchita in her home. I took advantage of the occasion and said to her,
—Tell me about the Virgin, Conchita. (As a rule, none of the girls spoke spontaneously about their visions; they jealously kept their secret; but that day I was fortunate.)
—What do you want me to tell you? Today the Virgin came without the Child. And she didn't bring her crown. Her hair is long, dark brown, parted in the middle . . . We have never seen her with a veil on her head and her hair waves lightly, as if blown by a breeze . . .
—There's so much! But I don't know how to say it . . . One interesting detail: when the Virgin prays the 'Gloria', she bows her head with extraordinary reverence.(26)
—Have you ever seen her clothed in the Carmelite dress?
—She always comes clothed in white and with a dark blue cloak. Only on the feastday of Mount Carmel, July 16, did I see her in the Carmelite habit.
—And what can you tell me of St. Michael?
—He started everything. He came the first time on June 18th, preceded by lightening and a roaring like thunder that made a great impression on us.
—That isn't strange, Conchita, for don't you know that St. Michael is the leader of the Celestial Army, the standard-bearer of God, the vanquisher of Satan, etc., etc.?
—Well, no. I don't know anything about that. At another time in the conversation, speaking of the Child Jesus, Conchita tried to explain how he was dressed.
—It is very difficult to describe the color of His clothes! It is as if He were covered with a little of the sky . . . But not exactly blue; I don't know what His clothes could be made from . . .
Concerning St. Joseph:
—HE IS THE GREATEST OF THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN.»
24. Such a sweet impression remained in the mind of Mrs. Herrero de Gallardo from that prayer and meditation under the stars that years later, in September of 1967 . . . Let us listen to her:
«We made a procession on St. Michael’s day. It was a procession composed almost completely of Garabandalistas from Cataluña who were coming to inaugurate the private chapel to St. Michael. We went up penitentially from Cossío with the banner of the Archangel and the picture of the Virgin painted by Isabel de Daganzo. I called Mercedes Salisachs’ attention on coming to the place, and she made the procession stop there in memory of the apparition of September 12th, 1961. And all of us got on our knees on the hard ground; we prayed one of the 25 rosaries that we recited that day.»
25. Fr. de la Riva stated that the ecstasies in Conchita’s house on the night of September 12th lasted from ten at night until four in the morning.
26. The woman from Gallardo also heard Conchita say, although she does not remember if it was on this or another occasion:
«The Virgin gives the impression of looking more than at you. She is looking at the world. And in what a way! No one could look like that.»