When the sun declined over the horizon, the whole mass of people came together around the now illustrious location of the calleja. Previously the village people had built a barrier there with wooden logs tied together with cords to protect the girls.(25) Because of its square form, it immediately received the name El Cuadro, a word which would come forth many times in the history of Garabandal. Thanks to this bulwark of defense, the girls were able to meet their vision without disturbance, away from the danger of the thoughtless, although explainable, avalanches of the crowd. And it also made it easy for those to be at their side who had more of a right or more of a reason to be there: their parents, their brothers and sisters, the doctors, and the priests.
It began as usual with the recitation of the rosary. And the Angel did not fail his appointment with the girls, nor the expectation of the multitude.
That day, while I was seeing the Angel, our family doctor(26) grabbed me, lifted me up, and let me fall from a height of about a meter.
And on hitting the ground, my knees made a sound as if they were broken.
My brother wanted to stop him from doing this, but a force inside him kept him back.
I was unaware of all this but the people told me about it later.(27)
When the apparition was over, the people were very excited and they all wanted to see my knees.
And I didn't know why.(28)
From the Cuadro, the girls and many other persons went to the church, there to piously conclude with a prayer to the Blessed Sacrament what they had experienced in the Calleja with such emotion.
The girls then went into the church sacristy where there were doctors and priests who assaulted them with questions that they answered with the ingenuous calmness of normal, honest country girls possessing quick intelligence, if poor education.
The result: Some of the priests didn't believe; some did.
And who would wonder? In the first place, it was still too soon to take a definite position. And secondly, the affairs of God are never convincing from the start, nor do they overcome all resistance right away. How were the sermons of Jesus received? And what were St. Paul's experiences in preaching the Gospel to the Jewish communities that he met on his apostolic journeys? A revealing fact was stated at the end of the mission work of Paul and Barnabas in Antioch of Pisidia: And as many as were ordained to life everlasting believed. (Acts 13: 48)
Besides there was no obligation to believe in this Garabandal affair; it was not a requirement to be in God's good graces. Here the question was above all to be more or less open to the unknown, to be spiritually receptive.
It was also on that Sunday night of June 25th that there began to appear — for the first time, I believe — a certain explanation that would go on to spread and which would play an important and deplorable role throughout the history of the events. It is almost lost in some lines from Conchita's diary:
The teacher from Cossío was there; but that day he didn't believe, and said,
—Everything was a farce.
And he said to my brother,
—Your sister puts on a good act!
Yes, the four village girls, with a mentality (due to their remote isolation) of 8 or 9 year old children, who had never seen a motion picture, a television program, or a theater play, showed themselves right away such formidable actresses that during months and even years they were able to deceive thousands of people from Spain and foreign lands, among whom were hundreds of priests, doctors, lawyers, engineers, writers, and newspaper men. How unseeing must our show producers be not to have offered contracts to the girls that could have been for them a profitable venture.(29)
When all the turmoil of that unforgettable afternoon had ended, the four girls came upon another surprise:
We looked at our legs, and they were full of punctures and marks from those who scratched us.
But they didn't hurt us, although the marks were there.(30)
25. According to the notes of Police Chief Juan A. Seco, this protective barrier had been constructed on the previous day, Saturday, June 25th.
26. Doctor José Luis Gullón, resident of Puente Nansa.
27. During the ecstasies, the insensibility of the visionaries was total. They neither saw nor felt anything that was outside of their field of view . . . And their field of view was completely removed from the spectators.
28. Juan A. Seco confirms the episode of the doctor forcefully lifting up Conchita and added:
«When it was over and the girl was examined, the marks from the fall were clearly seen; and also the marks from the pinching, scratching and punching, which as a form of test, some had done to the visionary without her showing the least reaction of pain. She didn’t notice any of these things and none caused her pain; only the signs remained.»
29. There came forward at that time the explanation—very easy to mention, but so difficult to prove that up to the present no one has done so—that all this was an effect of some disease or abnormality of the visionaries. Police Chief Alvarez Seco wrote down:
«The doctor in charge of the district, Doctor José Luis Gullón said that these were seizures and diseases, that all that was happening was due to an illness that the girls had. He never said what illness it was. But I could see that they were in good health, that each day they were looking better and more healthy, while their families, parents, sisters and brothers gave the appearance of exhaustion and their faces clearly showed the lack of sleep and rest.»
30. Father Ramón María Andreu (with the authorization of the Santander chancery and his own superiors) was one of the exceptional witnesses of the events of Garabandal. He compiled a report of exceptional value, and in it he points this out about the ecstasies of the children:
«The anesthesia to pain appears complete. Besides the tests that were done on them, like pricking them, I have seen them fall hard on their knees without any sign of pain. What impressed me the most in this regard was when I saw Loli smack her head hard against a concrete walk. The noise was fearful; those present reacted by letting out screams; but the young girl, sitting on the ground, smiled and spoke with the Vision. On returning to normal, we asked her if she had felt any pain. She didn’t remember any smack on her head. She said that could have occurred when she felt something like a cramp over her whole body, but without any pain. Nevertheless, there was a bruise on her head at the place of the injury.»