AFTER THE 18th
Some were more suspicious than ever about Garabandal. (We have already seen the opinion that the Commission made). Conversely, others believed more than ever in it.
Now for the first time, or at least with an intensity previously unknown, a regrettable thing came about. The village divided into opposing opinions. Hostility, even antagonism, developed between the parents of the visionaries.
Concerning the days that followed immediately after July 18th, we have a valuable store of information in the notes taken by the lawyer from Palencia, Luis Navas Carrillo. Although he speaks with great prudence and delicateness, it is not hard to detect the attitude of the village in his remarks:
«After 11:00 on the morning of Thursday, July 19th, a sunny and warm day, I left for Torrelavega to take my mother and sister to the train.
In the village only a few still remained from the great number of strangers who had come for July 18th. There were two young girls from Reinosa camping near Conchita’s house, a teacher from Cadiz and his wife and two daughters, and perhaps a few more.
During the trip to Torrelavega, we were of course exchanging opinions about all that had happened. I was preoccupied with the tremendous effect that the apparitions had made on my mother, and I tried to convince her that she shouldn’t get so worked up and heated in defending their credibility. Nevertheless, I felt a joy in seeing her stirred so much, telling about the many things that had left a mark in her heart, an old heart of 70 years, but which still maintained its good sense. Listening to her, tears filled our eyes, for she spoke in words favorable toward everything that she had seen and heard. And who can resist the person who lives and breathes what he says?
Loli’s father was waiting for me at the Hostal Gloria in Torrelavega. We stayed for dinner and returned together to the village. There we met the pastor, Father Valentín, who was going to Santander to report to the bishop everything that had happened on the previous day.
We got back at nightfall in sufficient time to be present at the first apparition, the only one of the day, which was his daughter’s . . . She kept us up until after 4:30 in the morning . . . And at six o’clock, when I had barely fallen asleep, Jacinta’s father called me to pray the rosary at the calleja. The girl was waiting there, seated on the rocks. We prayed the rosary in silence and solitude. And then we went to the church, in front of whose doors, still locked, we said the prayers for a Visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Then I understood the sacrifice that was entailed for a girl like Jacinta to get up every day at six in the morning to go to the cuadro and pray the first rosary of the day there. Although in the beginning this had been a command from the Virgin, it had not been commanded for months, and still the girl continued coming just to please the Blue and White Lady.»
Among the various things that Mr. Navas wrote down in his notes on July 20th, Friday, I do not want to omit these:
«After eating, so as to be prepared for what could happen during the night, I took a long nap. (I had adapted my sleeping hours to the girls.) The room in which I was reposing was like a cave; it was chilly and had none of the flies that were so numerous in the village due to the cattle. I had the feeling of being in a catacomb, in an atmosphere of great recollection and devotion, worthy of the Spiritual Exercises, with an interior joy, under the loving glance and direction of the Queen and Mistress of Heaven and Earth, according to the title that the visionaries had given her in their ecstasies.
During the day, while discussing with the people her unfulfilled hope of receiving Communion that day from the hands of the Angel, Conchita said: How unfortunate that the Angel didn’t come! And responding to people about the reason for her receiving Communion more frequently than the others, she replied, Because I’m the worst of all. They told me that this answer was given to her by the Angel when the girl had insisted on knowing the reason for the difference.
On July 21st, Saturday, when we had barely slept an hour, Jacinta’s father woke me up again by knocking on the window of my room. It was getting to be 6:00 o’clock and the girl was going to the cuadro to pray the customary dawn rosary.
We also went there, accompanied by an old woman. We found Jacinta seated; she had placed some paper on top of the rocks to avoid the wetness from the heavy rainfall.
As on the previous day, we went to the church after finishing the rosary. In the
courtyard we prayed a Visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament . . .»
The day passed without notable episodes, until 1:00 at night when the first ecstasy occurred. It was Loli’s, in the kitchen of her home. The lawyer from Palencia described it:
«It was something marvelous. I couldn’t imagine anything comparable. The silence was absolute and the attention complete. The girl offered the Vision whatever had been deposited on the table for this purpose. I had put there a collection of holycards bought in Cabezón de la Sal, and the theme of which was the titles of the litany. With greater dexterity than a card player, the girl opened the holycards in a fan and held them up very graciously like that to be kissed by
the Vision . . . She was completely transfigured. Her face was radiant and full of light; the expression didn’t belong to her, but to an angel. It seemed as if she were radiating a supernatural halo and we were all immersed in a sensation of serenity and peace, as if being under the gaze of Our Lady.»
Concerning Conchita’s ecstasy, which followed Loli’s, Luis Navas writes:
«She went out of her house and through the various streets of the village; she made a complete circle around the church; she went to the cemetery and knelt at the gate. We went with her to the cuadro, and from there she descended backwards in a marvelous ecstatic dance. The rosary was recited and later we sang the Salve. The voice of the visionary didn’t belong to this world. There were still other trips through the village. The girl’s expression was held constantly in an ineffable smile, very different from the almost ironical quality that she had many times out of the ecstasies.
Toward the end, when she began giving back the chains and medals, she noticed that she had dropped a medal. She asked the Vision about it and was astonished at the response she received, since she was heard to say, But how could I lose it near the church if I haven’t gone out of the house? After the ecstasy she was also astonished in seeing us all perspiring, while she had no sign of exertion or fatigue. And the affair had lasted until 4:30 in the morning! We went to bed happy since the Virgin had presented us a night which for me was happier and richer in the interior life than July 18th itself.»(1)
Luis Navas used Sunday, July 22nd to speak at leisure with the four girls:
«They were the ones who brought up the subject of the miracle on July 18th. I noticed some of them, especially Jacinta, had still not spoken about it to their companion Conchita. And I was surprised at the attitude that was then adopted.
Jacinta, a timid girl, soon showed herself harsh, always taking the initiative and displaying in her speech a series of judgments and opinions that surely were those beginning to be circulated through the village. And so there came to my knowledge some of what the people thought and what they usually were careful not to mention in the presence of strangers.
While Jacinta was stating the remarks that were running through the village concerning the disputed Communion of the Angel, she gave me the impression that she was identifying with those remarks, or at least partially accepted them, since she took on a very personal tone in what she said. Loli hardly opened her mouth. Mari Cruz enclosed herself in her habitual silence. And Conchita merely smiled before these absurdities reflecting the bad disposition and bitterness of ignorant people inclined to suspicion. And all this, even though some of the villagers had been able to be present up close to the Communion, not leaving
them room for doubt.
It pained me that these open cracks in the friendship between the families of the visionaries existed, and were coming to the surface like this, and that they were also having an effect on the girls themselves. Several times I mentioned in the houses there that the Virgin wanted the four girls to be united, and that they couldn’t be separated . . .
They were humanizing the realm of the supernatural that was rising up from the apparitions with proofs and signs more evident each day. This made me remember the scene of the Gospel in which the mother of the sons of Zebedee asked Christ to reserve the first two places in His kingdom for her sons. Here also, each family was endeavoring to make their daughter stand out as if distinguished by special signs as proof of the predilection of the Vision and the people for her.
Perhaps Jacinta was irritated by the distinction that this supposed for Conchita, if the event of the miraculous Communion is regarded with the eyes of the flesh, and not those of the spirit and faith.»
Luis Navas ended this dialogue, which he said was «characterized by a sharpness that was unusual in Jacinta», with words that were conciliatory and Christian in sentiment.
This episode is revealing, not only for showing the atmosphere existing in the village after that memorable day, but also for illustrating once again the co-existence of high divine gifts with low human weaknesses. These must displease God; but He has infinite patience, waiting for souls to overcome their faults.
The multitude of supernatural favors that the visionaries at Garabandal received from God did not substantially change their human nature, strongly influenced by the bad inclinations that we call vices or capital sins. Their failures should have urged them to a moral fight against their inclinations. The girls were certainly not free from them, and outflows of their weak human nature would inexorably appear on more than one occasion.
We should not then be surprised that a certain feeling of envy was shown with regard to the marked distinction that Conchita had on July 18th. And making it worse were the parents’ village rivalries and their neighbors’ vicious comments.
On Monday, July 23rd, writes Luis Navas:
«After 10:00 in the morning, I was sitting at the door of Mari Loli’s house. And she told me that right after the visit that she had made following her morning rosary, she had received Communion near the church door from the hands of the Angel.
I didn’t expect this because for some time only Conchita had been receiving Communion like this . . . She also told me that she had asked the Angel for the reason why he had not given Communion to them too on July 18th, since the people of the village had commented that certainly it had been due to their being bad. The Angel answered that it wasn’t so.
Jacinta arrived shortly afterwards, and Mari Loli told her about the Communion. My attention was drawn when Jacinta didn’t answer and continued into the interior of the store in search of bread, leaving her best friend deserted.»
Of the things that Mr. Navas Carrillo continued to write, I am only putting down those that have the greatest interest for us:
«Observing the ecstasies of the girls produces different effects in people. While it makes some more fervent, it almost scandalizes others, confirming their disbelief.(2)
I have been informed of another very meaningful episode that occurred some time later. Loli’s newest little brother had just been born. One day she fell into ecstasy near to him, and was heard to speak about him, showing astonishment at one time. How? So very little and already in mortal sin?
She didn’t put the crucifix on his lips until the child was baptized.(3)
One day the girls, speaking about the sins that most offend God, put in second place those that were committed in marriage. They used words whose significance was certainly beyond their rudimentary education.»
On that Monday, July 23rd, Luis Navas said farewell to Garabandal. The result of his stay he expressed in this way:
«Fortified by pure air, both spiritual and material, my continued meditations led me to accept with internal joy the troubles of this life, and also to look without excessive fear at death, which, at the end of everything, is no more than a frontier . . .
I felt a burning desire (and I petitioned the Mother of God and Our Mother many times) to be truly good, not halfway; for example, correcting my brusqueness, my stubbornness, my obstinacy, which together with a frankness that is sometimes excessive, are the origin of much discourtesy and many disagreements. Trying to defend the truth, I haven’t always been charitable. And I need to be convinced that, if charity is given, sanctity is earned.»
It would be magnificent if every pilgrimage to Garabandal produced the same effects!
On the following Wednesday, July 25th, all over Spain there was a big celebration: the feast day of its patron and Father in the Faith, the Apostle St. James. It was the second time during the apparitions that this holy day took place in Garabandal. Would something happen on this day?
Leafing through a mixed-up stack of references and testimonies referring to this time, I found this statement from María Herrero de Gallardo, who wrote down what she heard from Father Valentín months later:
«You see, Señora, that at times I tell you things that I don’t tell anyone else, since I know that you receive them well and think about them, while many others find them ridiculous.
For example, I remember the feast day of St. James the Apostle. It was almost midnight and about twenty people were watching the girls’ ecstasy. At times I looked at the sky, a beautiful summer sky covered with stars, with here and there a little white cloud drifting by. Suddenly — I saw this with my own eyes, and the persons that I mentioned also saw it — our patron St. James appeared on a beautiful white horse, like the tradition described in Spanish history. For a few minutes he seemed to make a path across the sky, disappearing at times behind white clouds and reappearing again. It was really wonderful.»
I find no great difficulty in accepting that this happened. And I would point out further how opportune would be a new appearance and intervention of the Defender of the Spanish Main, when once again it is the hour of a great battle for the faith of its people against many enemies within and without. If he was needed so much in the days of horses and swords, he is needed much more today against enemies wielding more sinister weapons in the heart of the land dedicated to the apostle called the Son of Thunder.(4)
1. Dr. Puncernau writes in his pamphlet about another night at Garabandal:
«I went out on the streets. It was a cold, starry night. For a person from Barcelona, the stars shone with unusual brilliance.
I thought that the Mother of Heaven truly watched over and protected with open arms the inhabitants and visitors at Garabandal.
Passing through the dark and lonely streets of the village, I also had the feeling of being protected.
In spite of the masses of people who came to Garabandal, no unpleasant accident ever occurred that I know about.»
2. This can be considered with the prophecy about Jesus. Behold this child—the aged Simeon told Mary at the Presentation in the Temple—is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be contradicted. (Luke 2:34)
3. Once again Garabandal comes ahead of its time to indicate deviations that would soon show themselves openly in the Church.
And today no one can be unaware—just a few years after Loli’s ecstasy— what at that time only the most learned could have perceived: the attack by the new theology on the old Christian dogma concerning original sin. This attack has not stopped in spite of the unequivocal words of Paul VI that proclaimed again in the Credo of the People of God (June 29th, 1968) what has always been believed by the Roman Catholic Church about original sin.
4. Mark 3: 17