The upcoming report of the way it was will illustrate better than any general description what the climate was in the village during those hours of anticipation on that memorable day. The description is from the same witness.
«On arriving in the village next to Ceferino's house, I put down my umbrella, and raising my eyes, I saw Loli behind a window on the upstairs floor. She was watching everything with that look of hers, so transparent, so pure. She did not seem to be much surprised by the crowds that were continuing to come. (I'm sure that she had never before seen such a crowd assembled together.) She must have been sitting; later I learned that she was suffering from an inflammation of her knee. I couldn't speak with her, since at the time I didn't have sufficient friendship with the girls, and even less with their parents, who were not inclined to conversations and confidences . . . and especially on that day when they had to defend her from the assault of countless inquisitive people.
A little later I met Elena García Conde from Oviedo who said to me, I am impressed. I spoke earlier with Loli and she suddenly exclaimed, “OH! IF THEY KNEW WHO WAS HERE AMONG THEM TODAY!" She said this in an exceptional manner! Please ask her whom she is talking about.
I intended to approach Loli; but there was no way. Her father, who has always been a good protection, was an even better one on that day.
Fortunately I was able to locate Father Valentín; he was going from one place to the next quite agitated and nervous; he seemed to be sunk in a sea of confusion. On one of his passes by I went up to him, and after the greetings he said, Heavens! I don't know what's going to happen here . . . I am really afraid of all these people. And they aren't going to like the message!
— Oh! Then you know the message?
— Yes, since yesterday afternoon . . . Conchita told it to me.
— And what does it say? What does it say?
— You must wait. They have to read it this evening. But I don't know . . . To me it appears . . . I don't know . . . It seems infantile, as from a little child. I am very worried, because of the people, who will expect . . . I don't know what.
I used the occasion to question him about Loli. To whom could the girl be referring with those puzzling words?
He was surprised for a moment; he kept silent for a few seconds, as if thinking, and then said to me, I don't know, but it could be ST. JOSEPH,(23) since today is Wednesday . . .
Then I was the surprised one since I didn't know why I had thought that the mysterious personage whom Loli was speaking about could well have been either Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the very well-known and venerated Capuchin with the stigmata,(24) or John XXIII, who was still alive and at the peak of his popularity. They could have been supernaturally present at Garabandal by the gift of bilocation.(25) What relief that would have given for what was about to happen there!»
Doña María's reflections on the reason for Loli's words are no surprise: the atmosphere was such as to bring out the most extraordinary suppositions.
Learning that St. Joseph was there did not cause enough sentiment,(26) it seems to me, and there was less enthusiasm than if it had been voiced that Padre Pio or John XXIII were present. Nevertheless, thinking about it closely today, I believe that the special presence of the Glorious Patriarch on that day in Garabandal had to give it a new dimension of grandeur.
This would lead one to believe that what was occurring there had a significance truly ecumenical. It was the entire church that was involved. At the time nothing could have been more normal than the presence of the one who has been declared by the supreme hierarchy as the first Patron or Protector of the Universal Church.(27)
During those October days, in the church at Garabandal — just as in all the other religious edifices throughout Spain — after the daily rosary there resounded the beseeching words of a prayer:
our tribulation, and having implored
the help of your most holy spouse, we
confidently seek also your intercession.
Turn your eyes compassionately on the
inheritance that Jesus Christ has acquired
with his blood.
Remove from us every stain of error and
Our most Powerful Protector, assist us
with your aid from heaven in this struggle
against the powers of darkness.
And as in former times you protected the
Child Jesus from imminent danger to his
life, so now defend the Holy Church of God
from the snares of our enemies and from
Who could say that this prayer, commanded many years ago during the pontificate of the foresighted Leo XIII, has not reached its full significance in the time of Garabandal? The hour comes, overriding two epochs of the Church: the period of the monolithic, secure Council of Trent of the Counter reformation; and at least for the moment, the insecure, agitated and confused period that has followed Vatican II.(28) This hour of Garabandal could well be a preview of salvation against the gravest dangers that surround us . . . And at the time, the
presence there of OUR MOST POWERFUL PROTECTOR IN THIS STRUGGLE AGAINST THE POWERS OF DARKNESS would have a most definite reason and significance.
«The weather continued to worsen, and the people sheltered themselves as well as they could in the houses and under the porch roofs. It should be recognized that the residents of the village tolerated the people as well as they could. And they had to exercise no small amount of charity and patience, since the crowds invaded everything, walked on the cultivated fields, and trampled on many plants. In spite of the considerable loss that all this entailed, I didn't hear
anyone complain, nor were incidents aroused. We can learn from this.
Heaven seemed to rage against us. A horrible cold began to join with the constant hard rain that culminated in a hailstorm, and then converted into slush toward 5 or 6 in the afternoon. Although I found refuge in a house where they gave me food, I wasn't able to put out of my mind the turbulent atmosphere of the streets and trails in which various languages could be heard, although naturally predominantly Spanish. (I believe that only among the religious was there a majority of foreigners.)
The comportment of the public wasn't uniform. There were many women who acted badly: they drank, they were dissipated, without a spirit of prayer . . . and some even were laughing at what could happen, giving it no importance or attributing it to the devil. The men generally showed more respect; and also the youth, who were there in great numbers.
The spectacle was certainly unusual; and it was easy to see that those who had come with good faith were happy, enthusiastic, with the greatest hopes; they prayed and they didn't care much about the inclemencies of the weather. And probably many of them hadn't even eaten . . .
Squads of mounted police guards were stationed in front of each of the visionaries' homes, preventing the entrance of the countless inquisitive people who sought at all costs to know, speak to, and kiss the girls, the real protagonists of this international convention. The only house which I was able to enter was that of Jacinta, whose mother Maria recognized me, and was helpful with a courtesy that I will never be able to forget.»
23. Among the days of the week, Thursday is the day given to the Eucharist; Saturday is dedicated to the Virgin; Wednesday is considered a day especially consecrated to St. Joseph. October 18th in 1961 actually fell on Wednesday.
24. This famous man of God died on September 23rd, 1968, after having for 50 years borne visibly the stigmata of Christ impressed on his body.
His spiritual influence on souls has been enormous. The process for his beatification and canonization has been undertaken. Today no one doubts his extraordinary sanctity; but during his lifetime he experienced an almost incredible misunderstanding and persecution from many people, even from those whom it would have been least expected. No less than four unfavorable declarations against him came out at various times from the Holy Office — the highest ecclesiastical authority. [Now Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Ed.]
25. The astounding miracle of one person being in two different places at the same time.
26. The reason for this was not that St. Joseph is of lesser importance, since he has always occupied the number one place in the ranks of the saints; but rather that everything that was expected on that day had to be sensational. And more than a new apparition, in a place so accustomed to apparitions, the unexpected presence of living people who were much talked about at the time would have surely caused a sensation.
27. This declaration or proclamation was made by the Pope of the Immaculate Conception, Pius IX, on the solemn feastday of December 8th, 1870.
28. Let me make this clear. I do not wish to speak derogatorily of Vatican II, nor can I speak that way. What was sought was a true updating of the Church and the conciliary documents tend in that direction for anyone who correctly understands them and tries to live them.
But it would be blind or näive not to recognize how the life of the Catholic Church has been affected by the situations that have been brought about under the pretext of implementing Vatican II. Has not Paul VI himself spoken to us about self-destruction?
Because we have the faith, we are sure that the Church will overcome all crises; but it is undeniable that in our time the Church is in the middle of a tremendous whirlwind.
At the time that the events that we are narrating were happening in Garabandal, final preparations for the Second Vatican Council were taking place; and just one year later, on October 11th, 1962, its inauguration was solemnly celebrated.