Siege at Garabandal
In the village, the final days of September were used to prepare for the coming Council. We know this from the writings of Luis Navas, the attorney from Palencia, who came again on Tuesday, September 25th. His first night there was a night of vigil, particularly difficult. And so he took advantage of the following day to sleep:
«I awoke at 3:00 in the afternoon. I used the afternoon to arrange my notes, and towards 7 o’clock I headed toward the church, since the time for the rosary was coming.
There was a sermon at the end; the pastor had enjoined Father Eliseo(6) to preach for several days on the Council. I remember on that day he spoke to us about the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and he said that He would come forth in our souls as a fountain of living water that flowed to eternal life.»
With the Council being discussed in their environment, and since the girls talked in their ecstasies about the things that drew their attention each day, it is no wonder that Conchita was heard to say in a trance:
«The Council, is it the greatest of all? . . . Will it be a success? . . . How good! . . . That way they will know you better, and you will be very happy . . . Why do they paint you so ugly, when you are so beautiful?»(7)
It would be extremely interesting to know the words that came from the Vision in those intervals of silence that separated the girl’s questions and statements. Perhaps we could know that way how God appraised the activities and the end result— at that time unforeseeable— of the last Council of the Church. Today, many years later, the people’s opinions are tremendously varied. Some think that the Council was the starting-point of an authentic Church, of a Church that finally had found itself. For them only the post-conciliar has value. Others say, or at least think, that the Council has provoked the worst revolution and the greatest crisis in the history of the Church.
What the girl said concerning the Council was not all questions; there was an exclamation which lends itself to diverse interpretations: «How good! . . . That way they will know you better, and you will be very happy . . .»
From this, I presume that the Virgin was saying something about what was going to happen in the Council with regard to her.
From the beginning it was planned to dedicate a complete document to the subject of the Blessed Virgin. The document was in time elaborated by the Commission in charge, and in time given to each of the Conciliar Fathers for his prior study. But before the time for its debate came to the assembly itself, there came a decision to . . .
On October 24th, 1963, during the second session of the Council, the dogmatic constitution of the Church was being debated. The question was brought to the floor as to whether a whole conciliar document should be dedicated to the Virgin, proper to her and her alone, or whether just a chapter should be dedicated to her within the dogmatic constitution that was then being debated.
The unexpected question caused a tremendous reaction, and was heatedly debated with unusual vigor. Five days later, on October 29th the decision came by vote. By a narrow margin the majority decided that there would not be a conciliar document to speak about the Virgin alone; what the Council allotted to her was a chapter within the dogmatic constitution on the Church.
In Garabandal one year before this, on the early September morning about which we have just been speaking, well could the Virgin talk to Conchita about what the Council was thinking about doing for her, and also of what would actually take place. There would be no more than a chapter for her; but although brief, it would be substantial, and as a consequence, a good basis for excellent Marian instruction. Perhaps it was this that made the girl exclaim: «How good! That way they will know you better and you will be very happy.»
Nevertheless, there has been a feeling in certain Catholic circles that the Council was the origin of a chill or halt in traditional Marian devotion. Does this feeling correspond to the facts? There are many who affirm it does. Is such a feeling without basis? Others maintain it is. And there are some who say that a chill or halt had to come, and that it was coming at the right time.
6. This seems to have been a Passionist Father, that is, a member of the Congregation of the Passion founded in 1720 by St. Paul of the Cross.
7. The words that follow were transcribed by Louis Navas from a tape recording made by a Basque priest who was in Garabandal on those days. (Fr. Valentín places the girl’s ecstasy on the morning of September 26th.)
«The whole night (between the 25th and 26th) they passed in vigil at Conchita’s home, until six in the morning. And when at that time a priest—there were six from outside the diocese— was reciting the Angelus, the girl fell on her knees and presented the crucifix to be kissed, starting with all the priests. She went outside into the village, she went to the Cuadro. It lasted about an hour. She was heard to say something about the Council . . .»