«Respected and Dear Father in Our Lord Jesus Christ:
Concerning the questions that you've asked me, some of them are difficult to answer, since it's hard to make a judgment on them. But with the protection of the Most Holy Virgin and guided by her, I follow what she indicates to me. I go to pray the rosary every day at six in the morning at the calleja; Jacinta accompanies me. Conchita goes out at seven, and Loli at 8:30, but in the church.(18)
From the 19th(19) of November our trances have stopped. We are expecting to have them again: Jacinta, on the 16th of December; Conchita, on her feastday, but not for certain,without doubt. Conchita will see her on January 27th; Loli, on January 13th; and I, on January 16th, God permitting. Besides this, we lead our lives like the other girls: at the classroom, playing, and making our prayers every day . . .»
There is also a letter from Loli written during this period, to the same recipient, dated December 3rd:
«A few words to answer your letter. I would say that it is about time. But pardon me, since time passed without my realizing it. Besides, I'm sad because I'm not seeing the Virgin.(20) As you know, the Virgin doesn't deceive. I expect to see her again in January. I don't know if in the meantime she will visit me some day again. I don't know. I'm rather bad; perhaps she takes that into account.(21) I don't think so, since I act like this without realizing it. I have nothing to say about the photographs that you sent me, since I have not shown them to the Virgin.»
Although Loli had not been promised that she would see the Virgin again until January, she hoped that She would visit her before then.
And the Virgin returned. Mrs. María Josefa Lueje, from the little Asturian town of Colunga, says in a letter:
«I went to Garabandal for the second time on December 18th of 1961. I went with some friends, the family of Manolo Lantero from Gijon. There were about 14 persons and we took up three cars. From Cossío we went up by foot, since the weather was fierce and the road impassable.
Shortly after coming to the village, we gathered together in a plastic case everything that we had brought to be kissed by the Virgin: rosaries, medals, crucifixes . . . As soon as we saw Loli, we gave them to her. But she wasn't sure that she was going to have an apparition. This left us somewhat dejected, but we had to resign ourselves. And we prepared to spend the night without sleeping, as we ordinarily did. On seeing that there weren't many of us, Ceferino took pity
on us and invited us into his kitchen so we wouldn't suffer so much from the cold.
Early in the morning, about 4 a.m., Loli leaped up from where she was sitting and fell on her knees upon the floor, making a loud thud. But that was nothing compared to the change in her face . . . For the young girl's face — plump and what might be called a peasant face — transformed and refined itself into an indescribable form, almost appearing to be an angel.
She went out later through the village, accompanied by her father and all of us. She went up to a house where they told us there was an old man near death, unconscious for several days. When Loli made the sign of the Cross with her crucifix on him, the man recovered consciousness and recognized his sons. (So they told us). We saw her go down the steep uneven stairway without rails, with her head completely turned backwards, and we couldn't explain why she didn't fall and hurt herself . . . Then she led us to the courtyard of the church where we recited a rosary, as I think I have never recited one in my life.
When we returned to the house we met Jacinta and her father going to pray the rosary at the Cuadro as they early every morning. It was something to see those lightly dressed young girls with their knees on the snow in the freezing temperature during the middle of the night . . . In Garabandal at the time, there was real devotion and real penance was done.
I can never forget all these things: they did me much good; they brought me closer to God.»
On January 13th, the feastday of St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, Mari Cruz and Conchita wrote again to Father de la Riva. Mari Cruz mentioned certain personal matters, and afterwards interjected this brief remark:
«On the feastday of the Immaculate Conception, Conchita alone saw the Virgin. As I have told you, I won't see her until January 16th. I would like to see her always, always, but when she doesn't concede this gift to me, it is because I don't merit it. And so I resign myself to her holy will.»
Conchita naturally mentions her grace of December 8th:
«On the feastday of the Immaculate Conception the Virgin came to congratulate me, as she had told me that she was going to come. And when she came, she came smiling very much. She laughed very much.(22) The first thing that she said to me was, Happy Feastday. And so the day passed very well . . . But I won't see her again until January 27th.
She came in the evening. They said that it lasted a long time, but it seemed very quick to me. Afterwards she said that I should go eat. And after I ate, she came back another time . . . And they said:(23)
— that I went to the place where we had the first apparition,
— and that I went backwards to my home,
— and that afterwards I went out and prayed the rosary through the streets,
— and that I visited all the sick.
You know that I am unaware of this, that it's what they tell me. And so I know that I will not see her again until the 27th . . .»
What a beautiful evening the people of Garabandal had on the feastday of the Immaculate Conception! It was for everyone, the healthy and the sick alike. And again graces from Our Lady spread through the houses and streets.
Only one celestial visit remained for 1961, the year that had known so many marvels. It occurred on December 16th — the evening before the official prayer of the Church starts the splendid “Oh" antiphons( 24) that are the immediate preparation for the feast of the Coming of the Lord.
And now it was Jacinta's turn to be the privileged one. I could not obtain much information about the grace given her. All that could be found in a letter from Mari Cruz dated December 16th was a terse reference:
«Today Jacinta saw the Virgin.»
There is also some information in a letter that Maximina González wrote to Doctor Ortiz, dated December 26th:
«While you were away, Jacinta had an apparition. It was very sad; it lasted a short time, but all the time tears were streaming . . .
They are still going out for the rosary: Mari Cruz and Jacinta at six in the morning, and Conchita and María Dolores at 8 o'clock. Dawn is breaking when we come to pray. So see if we aren't making sacrifices! For me, getting up in the morning is the greatest.»
18. Perhaps the difference in time schedule was influenced by the personal situation of each girl. Loli, for example, went to bed later than the others because of the little commercial enterprise and tavern that her parents had in her home.
In the letter on November 21st, Conchita states to a daughter of Eloísa de la Roza Velarde, the sister-in-law of Dr. Ortiz:
«I tell you too that last Saturday I finished seeing the Virgin until the feastday of the Immaculate Conception or until January 27th. This hurts me! Anyhow, time will pass. We go to pray the rosary every day at 6 and at 7 in the morning where she appeared to us the first time.»
19. I do not know whether Mari Cruz is confused on the date, and put down 19 instead of 18, or whether she wishes to say that they were from the 19th inclusive without an apparition.
20. The girl's spontaneous statement, in a confidential letter, can be placed side by side with some of the statements made — later approved episcopally — that this was a game of children, that is to say, something staged by the girls to get away from their boring life, or to accomplish some goal. Could there be any stronger proof that the girls did not invent this game?
Fr. Valentín wrote down on October 10th, 1961:
«Loli told me with the greatest sorrow on her face that at least until the day after next she would not have an apparition. We noticed that she was sad since the last apparition; but in answer to my question at the time, she said that nothing had happened.»
21. This shows again that apparitions cannot suddenly transform weak human creatures into angels . . . The apparitions had placed the girls on the road to continual moral improvement, and that was no minor matter.
22. The girl expressed according to her abilities the joyful attitude of the feast — full of light and serenity — that she saw in the Mother of Heaven. But no one should imagine that her way of laughing was frivolous or loud as occurs so often with humans.
23. The girl wrote all these things down one after the other. They have been separated into lines here to simplify understanding the many things that happened in that trance, the last one for Conchita in 1961.
24. These are called the Oh antiphons since they start with this exclamation. Seven in number, they express in biblical language the ardent hope of humanity while waiting for the Savior. Formerly they were chanted one each day at the end of Vespers during the last week of Advent, from December 17th to December 23rd.