News of Garabandal being the site of amazing phenomena was spreading throughout the world, and new visitors were coming ceaselessly to the secluded little town.
Everyone wanted to know what had happened first hand, through the visionaries themselves. The girls could not always acquiesce to the people’s wishes; either because the flood of inquisitive people was at times overwhelming, or because the girls had duties which they could not neglect, or because their parents placed obstacles in the way of the persons who came.
But usually the visionaries tried to please everyone. Obviously they could not put down what they knew in writing for all. However there was an exception in the case of William A. Nolan, an American from Illinois.
This man made his appearance at Garabandal in March, 1965, and wanted to learn from Conchita everything that had happened. He was not able to converse with her in words, since neither did he know Spanish, nor she, English. At the time the young girl agreed to write to him, something that was hard for her. In order that it would not serve as a precedent, she put as a postscript:
«I’m doing this for this man, as we don’t understand each other, and he wants to be informed. I’m doing this for him, but I can’t do it for everyone. And he, with an interpreter . . .»
The manuscript was three pages long, and Conchita said nothing new; but it is of interest as a resumé and confirmation of the principal facts. She began:
«On an evening in June of 1961, at San Sebastián de Garabandal, the Archangel St. Michael appeared to four girls, of whom I am one . . . The first time that we saw him, he didn’t say anything — until the 1st of July. Before the 1st of July, he carried an inscription underneath his feet, and we didn’t understand well what it said . . .»
She continued, a few lines down:
«The Virgin came on July 2nd and she appeared very beautiful to us, with the Child Jesus in her arms and two angels dressed alike, one on each side.
The first thing that she said to us was, Do you know the meaning of the inscription that the Angel carries?
And we said no.
It is a message that you have to tell the world on October 18th of this year, 1961.
It is the following . . .
Besides the message, the Virgin told us many more things; she also told us that there would be many contradictions among us . . .
She continued appearing to us like this until 1963, and she told us many very beautiful things, which it would require many days to write all down.
In the past two years we haven’t had apparitions; but the Most Holy Virgin has spoken to us interiorly, without words, and we understand her very well. These are called locutions. I like very much to see the Virgin; but I like even more for her to speak to me interiorly, because she seems to be inside me.
The Virgin has also predicted through my intercession (through me), a great miracle for the whole world; it is more important than any other, as the world needs now. For the world now there is the message — for the people to fulfill it, and make others fulfill it . . .»
After the usual descriptions of the Virgin, the Child and the Angel, she added in ending:
«The last time that I saw the Virgin was at the Pines on January 1st. And I will see the Angel on the coming June 18th.»
This document was dated March 22nd, 1965.
Three days later, Loli took an interest in the same man, writing this letter:
«For my good believer in Christ, William A. Nolan,
I thank you very much for your trip to Spain, and for your visit to this village, lost in the mountains, where Our Most Holy Mother has shown herself one more time to demonstrate the love that she feels toward the whole world. As a mother she pardons us everything, if we ask her with faith. Show this letter in your town.
I also tell you this, that in order to avoid the Chastisement, we have to make many sacrifices and penances, to pray the family rosary every day; this is what Our Most Holy Mother requests of us. Also, that we should love one another, as Our Lord loves us. We have to love; the whites must love the blacks; and the blacks, the whites, since we are all brothers . . .»
Not a bad letter! Brief and simple, but with material for extended meditation.
These two writings carry a breath of the Divine that acted in Garabandal; but there is also much of the human acting there, even the too human . . .
We know from Plácido Ruiloba, that toward May 11th of that year 1965, uncharitable comments and rumors concerning the bishop were being noised throughout Santander:(5) that he was being obliged by his superiors to resign . . . that he was thinking of going to North America . . . that at the time it was said that Pajares and Tobalina(6) were waiting to be rid of him, in order to finish once and for all with the bothersome matter of Garabandal . . .
The atmosphere that had descended on the mountain village was lamentable; it was described by the French witnesses in L’Etoile dans la Montagne:
«Dissensions, arguments, criticism, distrust, indiscretions, and insults concerning the Celestial Visitor . . . The more or less disguised waiting for the famous rendezvous . . . It will be seen what will happen — since for the past two years nothing has been seen.»
During these days of confusion, especially on May 16th, it began to be known that Conchita had held an important secret since January 1st. Thus it appears, at least in the notes of Dr. Ortiz:
«Plácido went up to Garabandal, and Maximina relayed the conversation that she had with Conchita in which she had been told that a sign (the Warning) would come before the miracle.»
The news or announcement, if it was divulged to the village (concerning which I have no information), certainly made no impression. Most everyone’s attitude remained the same: doubting, dubious. They shrugged their shoulders: We will see what will happen, if anything is going to happen.
5. Eugenio Beitia Aldazábal had come to Santander as the bishop of the diocese in 1962; because of his age, education and deportment, a fruitful episcopate was expected. Unexpectedly in 1962 he presented his resignation, which the Holy See accepted. He state of health was given as the official reason for the resignation.
Bishop Beitia retired to Bilbao, his native land, and there continued working, especially in collaboration with the press.
6. For many years Fr. Francisco Pajares and Fr. Agustín Tobalina governed the diocese of Santander: the first from his position as a chancery secretary, and the second as vicar general.