«The two girls,» — continued Ascensión de Luis — «were sitting in front of us on some small low benches like those still seen in the kitchens of the village. And on their laps they held the religious articles given to them to offer the Virgin to kiss. As soon as their apprehension had eased, they began to speak about Catherine, since they were heard clearly. She isn't a Catholic . . . No, she isn't a Catholic . . . She isn't baptized . . . Come, help her . . . Oh! because of her parents! They remained for some time on this topic.»
And then they began to offer the vision the objects that they held on their knees. It was something worth seeing. Without lowering their heads, or moving their gaze from the spot on which it was fixed, they took the articles one by one. Raising up an arm with great grace as if to touch the lips of whoever had to be kissing them, they remained like this a few seconds with the arm on high and then lowered it in its place.
When the turn for my rosary came, they were heard to say, Oh! With this rosary she learned to pray . . . With it she said her first Hail Marys . . . Her first Hail Marys . . . It was Loli who presented my rosary, and she continued repeating this. She was putting it down among the other articles when Jacinta took it in her hand and raised it again up towards the vision, repeating in her turn, as if it were something coming from inside of her, Her first Hail Marys . . . Her first Hail Marys . . . Finally she put it down on top of Loli's knees together with all the other articles.
My excitement was tremendous; and it was even greater when I learned that this certainly was the only article that had received the Virgin's kiss twice, since they had told me that when the girls presented something that had been once kissed, although it had been done a long time previously, they were accustomed to put it down immediately saying, You say that this has already been kissed. Because of this, from then on I kept the rosary as a real treasure.
When they had finished offering the Virgin all that they had there, they were heard to say, Now? Good! And Loli reached her hand behind the little bench on which they were sitting toward the bottle of holy water that had been set down there. She took it, opened it up, and threw it forcefully upwards in front of her . . .
And then we could notice a little wonder. The water didn't fall where it should have fallen naturally — upon me, the one who was the closest and the one in front of Mari Loli — but rather, making a mysterious curve in its path, it fell in the shape of a little shower on top of Catherine, who was facing Jacinta. Fr. Valentín, who was almost leaning against Catherine, behind her, assured me that not a single drop had fallen on him. I, who was holding her arm — we were leaning against each other because of the excitement — can also testify that nothing touched me. On the contrary, Catherine felt fully this mysterious bath. Not only on her head, but also on her dress and even on her feet. “Yes, I was drenched!" And I ought to say that this was a very small bottle, and it was not completely full since part of its contents had been splashed on the kitchen floor slightly before the coming of the apparition. »
The mysterious meaning of the episode is clear. The young 19 year old girl, through the mercy of the Lord in heaven, had already been brought to the faith, but there was something still lacking in order to enter fully into the City of God, to be counted among His sons:
And preach the gospel to every creature.
He who believes and IS BAPTIZED shall be saved.
But he who does not believe shall be condemned.
(Mark 16: 15-16)
Thus heaven intervened miraculously to inspire Catherine to make the last step in the process of entering onto the way of salvation. And that unique intervention had a good ending, as we shall see later.
«A little later» — continues Ascensión de Luis — «we saw Loli anxiously searching among the kissed objects, and repeating in a worried manner, Hers, hers . . . Where is hers? It's very small . . . Finally, as if someone were mysteriously guiding her, she put her hand on the floor near her feet, and picked up a small medal of the Virgin of Lourdes, no more than two or three centimeters in size. It belonged to Catherine and we had given it to the girls when we entered, together with the rosary and some of my medals. And the girls had put them among the many articles that were awaiting the Virgin's kiss; in the course of the ecstasy it had fallen on the floor. The image was so tiny that I am sure it would not have been possible to find it there in the poorly lit kitchen if the hand of the girl had not been guided by someone.
Loli raised up her arm to offer the medal to be kissed; but in spite of stretching as much as she could, it appeared that she was not able to reach. Then she picked up the things that she had on her lap and on top of her knees and stood up. She set the articles on the little bench, and stretched as much as she could on the tips of her toes . . . But it was seen that she still did not reach. Then Jacinta stood up in turn, picked Loli up by her knees — without the least effort — and raised her up as if she were a feather. I haven't seen a more beautiful picture: the two girls with their heads tilted backwards, their faces shining with the most ineffable happiness, smiling, making all their movements with an unsurpassable grace . . .
Loli, with her arm on high, tried to reach up with the little medal to the mysterious being that was there. She appeared to have succeeded, and after that Jacinta lowered her down, while addressing her voice upwards, I? . . . I should give it to her? . . . I should put it in her pocket? . . . She approached Catherine, who was breathless with excitement. (Catherine was seated on another one of those low benches, and it couldn't be observed whether her jacket had pockets or not. Without looking, Loli then said, Here, here is the pocket! And very carefully she put in it the little medal that seemed to have considerably more importance than its size represented.
Following this, the two girls (who were standing in front) began to lean toward us, while rigid and in a very difficult posture, seemingly one that they could not hold without falling. And a little later, with an astounding naturalness, they returned to their normal position. In speaking of this, it might not seem to be much, but I can tell you that observing it was a real marvel because of the expressions on their faces and the gracefulness of their movements.
Again Loli began inclining her body, this time only toward Catherine, to the point of resting almost on top of her, in a posture impossible to hold and without a single motion of loss of equilibrium or balance. Instinctively we stretched out our hands, since it seemed impossible that she wouldn't tumble down. But Fr. Valentín said to us, Let her alone. She won't fall. She was like this a few seconds and returned to her normal position. I had the impression that the girls were drawn where the apparition (or the Virgin) moved, without ever taking their eyes from her, and that she held and supported them in their most difficult and remarkable positions.
Finally the two girls began to talk to the Virgin. Here? We should pray here? . . . And without going out on the street, as on so many other occasions, they began to pray right there — and how they did it! — a Station to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, while we joined with them as well as we could. Later we saw the farewells: they positioned their faces, first the one girl, then the other, in an attitude of receiving a kiss on each cheek, while they spoke out with most intense desire, Don't go so quickly! . . . Stay a little longer! . . . I don't know how long this lasted, but certainly more than a half hour.»
Ascensión de Luis kept a definite and unforgettable remembrance of that 28th of August, 1961 not only because of the number of things that happened there to her French friend, but also because it was her first visit to Garabandal. Many other trips followed as this young woman from Burgos is one of the persons most linked with the famous events. This first trip was a special day for her: the anniversary of the death of her own mother on August 28th. With regard to this, she received marvelous information from heaven at the time when the girls presented a memento of the departed for kissing. Hidden within it was a small leaf from a calendar, but a leaf with a tale . . .
Catherine had to endure the misunderstanding and opposition of her parents. But finally, providentially, she was able to return to Spain in 1963; and still more providentially, she was able to obtain the necessary permit for remaining temporarily to work in Burgos . . . And on the 20th of October, she solemnly received Baptism in the city's magnificent cathedral. The girls had not petitioned for her in vain. In several apparitions they were heard remembering her case, and repeating later in their requests: At 21 years . . . when she will be an adult . . . Yes, at 21 years, at an adult age, Muriel Catherine entered into the family of the sons of God with a very Christian and Spanish-French name: María del Carmen Catherine.
Could she ever arrive at measuring the depth and width of the mystery of salvation to which she had been brought by the decisive assistance of Our Lady visiting us at Garabandal?
But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Spirit, Whom He has poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior: that being justified by His grace, we may be heirs according to the hope of everlasting life. (Titus 3: 4-7)