As something unusual in the beautiful monotony of those days, I am putting down here something that occurred on March 3rd, and which Dr. Ortiz reported:
«Félix López, a former student of the Seminario Mayor de Derio (Bilbao) who is now the schoolteacher in Garabandal, was meeting with people in Conchita’s kitchen. The girl received a letter that she didn’t understand, and she requested him to translate it. It was in Italian, and Félix, after reading it, said, By its style, it could well be Padre Pio.(18)
Conchita asked him if he knew Padre Pio's address, and on receiving an affirmative answer, asked him to help her compose a letter to answer it and express her appreciation.
Completing the letter, they left it on the kitchen table, unfolded. After a while, Conchita went into ecstasy and recited the rosary. When she returned to her normal state, the teacher said to her:
— Did you ask the Virgin if the letter was from Father Pio?
— Yes, and she gave me a secret answer to send him.
The girl went up to her room and came down later with a paper written by hand. In front of everybody, she put the paper in the envelope which had been addressed by the teacher to Padre Pio, and she sealed it.
The letter that had come to Conchita, without a signature, without a return address, but with an Italian stamp, said this:
My Dear Children,
At 9 o'clock in the morning, the Holy Virgin told me to say to you “O blessed young girls of San Sebastián de Garabandal! I promise you that I will be with you until the end of the centuries (possibly ‘end of the times'?), and you will be with me during the end of the world. And later, united with me in the glory of paradise."
I am sending you a copy of the holy rosary of Fatima, which the Virgin told me to send you. The rosary was composed by the Virgin and should be propagated for the salvation of sinners and preservation of humanity from the terrible punishments with which the Good God is threatening it.
I give you only one counsel: Pray and make others pray, because the world is at the beginning of perdition.
They do not believe in you or in your conversations with the Lady in White . . . They will believe when it will be too late.»
Here is something, I repeat, that is very unusual.
It would be helpful to have more information in order to understand what this means. If the letter really did come from Padre Pio, where is the original? Is the translation, that Dr. Ortiz has and which we are copying, accurate?
If so, what is the meaning of the expression: “I will be with you until the end of the centuries, and you will be with me during the end of the world?"
In the second edition of this book we are able to add something to clarify this intriguing episode.
On February 9, 1975 the people responsible for the magazine Garabandal put out by Joey Lomangino, a man well known in Garabandal circles, interviewed Conchita who is now married and living in the United States. The questions and answers were recorded.
— Conchita, do you remember anything about the letter that you are said to have received from Padre Pio?
— You know that I have moments in which I remember many things about the apparitions very well, and I have moments in which I hardly remember anything at all . . .
Concerning what you now ask me, I do remember that I received in the mail a letter addressed to me and the other three girls: Jacinta, Mari Loli and Mari Cruz. I was surprised by what it said; and as it was unsigned, I kept it in my pocket until the time of the apparition.
When the Blessed Mother appeared, I showed her the letter . . . And I asked her whom it was from. The Blessed Mother answered that it came from Padre Pio. At the time I didn't know who Padre Pio was and it didn't occur to me to ask her anything more . . .
After the apparition we were talking about the letter, and then a seminarian there told me who Padre Pio was and where he lived. I wrote him, saying that when he made a visit to my country, I would like to see him . . . He answered in a short letter saying, Do you think that I can come and go by the chimney? Being twelve years old I had no idea what a cloister was.
— Do you remember any of the contents of the letter that you showed to the Virgin?
I don't remember the whole thing well. But I do remember its beginning:
“Dear children of Garabandal, this morning the Most Holy Virgin talked to me about your apparitions . . ."
I also remember that it said:
“Many people do not believe in your apparitions and that you are speaking with the Blessed Mother. When they believe, it will be too late . . ."
I also remember that the letter said:
“I promise to be with you until the end of the times."
That is all that I remember now.
Do you have those two letters?
— Yes, I think my mother has them in Spain.
This matter will be better understood further on in Part Three of these books after the reader finishes the chapter entitled, 1963, a Year of Interlude with the section Only Three Popes Remain.
It is clear that the end of the times is not the same as the end of the world.
The visionaries of Garabandal could well experience during their lifetime the coming of the «end of the times», and because of this the Virgin will «be with» them — through her special assistance and aid — until those great days come. Afterwards they will depart from here on earth to go where she is, and may be present with her «at the end of the world» when our Lord will conclude things with His final judgment to close the tremendous epoch of man's history.
18. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, a Capuchin priest at San Giovanni Rotondo in Italy, was known world-wide for his stigmata, reading of consciences, and miracles. He died in September of 1968. The process of his canonization is progressing under the auspices of the hierarchy. [He has been canonized and is now called Saint Pio of Pieltrecina, Editor]