Mr. Damians wrote at the end of his report, «I don't know what most people think of all these things, nor the decision the Church will adopt.»
The Church has still not adopted a decision. But those who said they were acting in the name and with the powers of the Church immediately took a stance: not to admit the actuality of the miracle. As a consequence, there was no other way for them to explain what had happened than to say it was the result of a well-staged fraud.
The principal perpetrator of the fraud could be none other than Conchita. But she could not have done it alone. Immediately the accomplices appeared: her uncle Elías and her cousin Luciuca. Some of those who were in Garabandal on that night began to single them out; and the Commission, with its propensity for negative positions, did not hesitate in taking their point of view.
It did not matter that some of these people, whose testimony in the beginning contributed to confuse the issue, later retracted their testimony.
For example, Fr. Justo wrote to Conchita from his residence two or three days later:
«I saw the Host on your tongue perfectly; but I was disturbed by not having seen it from the beginning. On leaving your home and going behind you, with the intention of not missing a thing, I had the misfortunate of falling and of being jostled by a larger number of people. When I recovered from the shock and wanted to get near you, the Host was already in your mouth.
The devil tempted me and I came to think evil . . . Afterwards, having spent some sleepless nights, I have come to think more evenly. And now I am once again sure that it is God Who gives you His protection.»
The favorable testimonies that could have been taken from many persons who had seen everything meant nothing to the Commission.
Doctor Ortiz compiled the names and addresses of some 26 witnesses. And Father Valentín took statements from some more. In his notes, Doctor Ortiz wrote:
«Everyone agrees that the Host was of an exceptional whiteness. And some added that it seemed somewhat thicker than normal. Those who saw the event from the beginning, expressed it like this: It was as if suddenly the Host came forth from her tongue. They said too that the miracle was not followed by cries or shouts, but only by some minutes of silence until the girl, still in ecstasy, left the place.»
It is pointless to show the ridiculousness of the suspicions against Uncle Elías. The people from Garabandal never took them seriously since they knew what this man was: the least suited for such a thing. Nevertheless, Plácido Ruiloba, to dissipate better every doubt, submitted him later to an interrogation that was recorded on a tape recorder. (It took place in Santander, in the home of a woman born in Garabandal.) Whoever hears or reads the dialogue between the educated man from the city and the uneducated man from the village will see the complete inconsistence of the accusations and suspicions that were heaped on Uncle Elías.
It is not surprising that Uncle Elías, by this time, having had enough, replied to a remark from Mr. Ruiloba: The first thing that they should do (referring to the priests who had talked like this about him) is take off their cassocks. Who would have thought at the time that not many years later Uncle Elías' strong words would become a reality?
In spite of all this, trusting fully in some of the witnesses (which did not fulfill their duty to observe the matter directly), the Commission has continued in the opinion that the miracle of July 18th, 1962, did not happen.
Sometime later one of those who had been there in Garabandal met Fr. Francisco Odriozola in Santander. He mentioned how much he had been surprised that Fr. Odriozola had not come to witness a thing so important. He who was called the «factotum » of the Commission replied that he had done well in not going, since it was only a fraud: the visionary had taken the pretext of changing her skirt and blouse to put some hosts in her mouth and then had performed the comedy of the miracle.
How could you say such a thing if you weren't present? the amazed questioner exclaimed.
For a response, Fr. Odriozola spun around and walked away.(59)
Time has passed, but he has not changed his opinion.
In the early part of May, 1963, François Henri, a Frenchman from Paris who had come previously to Garabandal with Dr. Caux, came again. He told Conchita that in Santander he had spoken with the Commission members and that Fr. Francisco Odriozola had pointed out to him: The miracle of the host was pure fraud. Conchita went out of her house already carrying on her tongue a piece of bread that she had prepared.
The girl was grieved. She then wrote a letter for Fr. Odriozola, and handed it to the Frenchman to deliver personally:(60)
«The Frenchman told me that you think that I put the Host on my tongue. And that later I fell on my knees. And that I stuck out my tongue to show the Host. And that before that I was alone in my room . . . I had gone to change my dress. And during all the time that I was upstairs, my mother, my two brothers, a cousin, an uncle and one of the Fontanedas were present. And I was upstairs a quarter of an hour, and the Angel appeared to me. And afterward I went out on the street with many people and priests.
It isn't true that I put the Host on my tongue. What a responsibility for me that would be before God! Doesn't it seem that I would have to have some schooling to think that up? And furthermore, I would have to think that the people would observe me. And I wouldn't be smart enough to do a thing like that.
And so St. Michael was the one who put the visible Host on my tongue for the people. And on that day I didn't fake the ecstasy either.»(61)
Obviously on July 18th, 1962, Garabandal, the site of so many events and actualities in the History of Salvation, soon became converted into a sign of contradiction. (Luke 2: 34) Some would consider the milagrucu decisively favorable; but others . . .
In his Memorias Father José Ramón García de la Riva condensed his impressions of that day like this:
«No member of the Commission came to the place; the delegate who took their place saw nothing since the commotion prevented him. Who would be surprised? God alone can name the conditions. And the conditions put down were not followed by those who were called. Those who should have been there, were not.
As a result of this event, there spread out the rumor that all had been a fraud.»
One cannot evade here a comparison with the distant echo of another story of long ago:
Some of the guards came into the city and told the chief priests all the things that had been done (after the Resurrection of Jesus) . . . And being assembled together with the ancients, taking counsel, they gave a great sum of money to the soldiers, saying: "Say his disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep . . ." And this word was spread abroad among the Jews even unto this day. (Matt. 28: 11-15)
And so July 18th, 1962, the day that had seemed destined to be decisive in the history of Garabandal, ended in many respects as a miserable failure.
59. Episode published by F. Corteville in L’Impartial, September-October, 1970.
60. Maximina González wrote a letter on May 3rd, 1963 to the Pifarré family:
«A Frenchman has been in my house for 6 days now. He is a very good man and has come several times. He is very interested in the apparitions. On his way here he spoke with one of the Commission members at Santander; it seems to me it was the secretary. Conchita sent the following card to this Commission member, whose name is Francisco Odriozola . . .»
The copy that Maximina gives matches exactly with the test given in this book.
61. With this, Conchita alludes also to the fact, known and admitted by her, that sometimes the girls had the frivolousness to fake part of an ecstasy.