We have what Alejandro Damians from Barcelona experienced and put down in writing. First of all he tells about the unusual circumstances on starting out on his journey, which only was decided on at the last hour on Monday, July 16th. Concerning these circumstances, Mr. Damians says there was . . .
« . . . a detail which was destined to be of the greatest importance. Before leaving Barcelona, my cousin lent me a friend's movie camera, giving me brief instructions on how it should be operated, since my knowledge in these things was absolutely nil.
I passed almost all of July 18th near to Conchita's house with my wife, a friend, several priests, and some other people.
Two circumstances joined together to cause doubt as to whether or not the hoped-for prodigy would take place: the atmosphere of fiesta that reigned in the village and the presence of priests. (It was known that normally the Angel did not come to give Communion if there were priests in the village who could do it.)
And so, between doubts, wishful thinking, boredom and hope, the long day went by. The discouragement and the lack of belief were general when we saw that, by the clock, July 18th had ended without anything happening. But toward 1:00 at night, after some had started to leave the village, there spread the news that, according to the solar time, the day would not end until 1:25 in the morning.(53)
A little later they asked those of us who were in Conchita's house to leave, and I stayed at the door in company with a friend of the family to prevent the entrance of other people. From my place of watching I held in my view the kitchen and the stairway that led to the upper floor, where Conchita was.
There the ecstasy took place; but we didn't learn about it until we saw her coming down the stairway with that classical attitude in which her features are softened and embellished in an extraordinary way.
As she stepped out the door, the waiting crowd opened just enough space to permit her passage, and immediately closed in around her like an overflowing river. I saw people fall on the ground and get stepped on by the others. To my knowledge, no one was injured. But the sight of that fantastic multitude on the run, pushing one another, couldn't have been more terrifying.(54)
I also had intended to follow Conchita; but five or six meters of heads were between the two of us. From time to time I distinguished her by the light from the flashlights, but without good visibility. She had barely gone outside when she turned to the left. Then she swerved to the left again. And right there in the center of the street, which is rather wide, she fell suddenly on her knees.
Her fall was so unexpected that the thrust of the crowd, by the force of inertia, pushed the people several meters beyond her. Thus, unexpectedly, I saw myself suddenly to the right and less than half a meter from her face. I firmly withstood the shoving of those coming from behind, and I succeeded in not being displaced from the privileged place in which I had fallen.
There was a relative calm. I should point out that, slightly before the middle of the night, the clouds previously covering the sky dissipated. And a multitude of stars began to shine around the moon. By their light and the numerous flashlights that lit up the street, I could clearly see Conchita with her mouth open and tongue extended, in the normal position for receiving Communion. She was more beautiful than ever! Her expression, her gestures, far from provoking laughter or being ridiculous, were of impressive and moving mysticism.
Soon, without being able to say how, without Conchita having changed her position or expression in the least, the Sacred Host appeared on her tongue.
It is impossible to describe the sensation that I felt at that moment! And that I still feel today on remembering it. It was something that engorged the heart in the chest, overflowing it with sweetness, and that made the eyes water with an almost uncontainable need to cry.(55)
Later they told me that Conchita had been immobile some two minutes, with the Sacred Host on her tongue, until she swallowed it normally. And then she kissed the crucifix that she carried in her hand.
I was unaware of the time that passed by. I only remember, as if in a dream, the voices that were shouting for me to stoop down. And I also remember feeling a hard whack on my head.
Then I remembered that I was carrying the motion picture camera around my neck. And without paying attention to the complaints, I remained standing, focused the camera, pressed the trigger, and filmed the last moments of Conchita's Communion. I had never before taken a picture; I barely remembered my cousin's instructions. It seemed doubtful that anything would result from this. And furthermore, there was — I noticed this later — the fact that the visibility was totally inadequate, since I had to operate by light from flashlights.
When the roll came back from being developed, I found myself with almost a new miracle: on the film appeared 79 photographs filming the scene. The shoving of the people surrounding me had caused me to be unsuccessful in centering the picture well on many of the frames; but several had taken the picture with complete accuracy.(56)
I don't know what most people think of all these things, nor the decision that the Church will adopt. The only thing of which I can be sure — and I hold this without any kind of doubt — is that on July 18th, 1962, in San Sebastián de Garabandal, two miracles occurred. The first, Conchita's Communion, displayed a supernatural character of enormous proportions; the second, very small showed proof of the infinite condescension of the Virgin toward me, because only through her condescension was I able to be present so close to the prodigy and have it clearly impressed on my film.»
53. It seems that there has been excessive attention put on determining if the moment of the miracle fell or did not fall within the chronological limits of July 18th. Those who are in favor of the miracle have made some distinctions between official time and sun time. Those who were opposed, like the Commission, saw the hour as one more proof of deceit. In the questionnaire sent to Father Etelvino González, there was a double question; «What hour was it? Had July 18th already passed?» I would ask if it had not occurred to the Commission that this difficulty of the time, rather than being opposed, speaks in favor of the authenticity of the miracle. If the affair had been staged by the girl and her accomplices, they would have taken great care to keep within the limitations of the announcement so that no one could have anything to criticize, and the scene would have occurred definitely within the time predicted. The actual happening shows that neither the will of the girl, nor the impatience of those who surrounded her, had any effect.54. In this near riot, the Commission wanted to find further proofs against Garabandal, as another question of their questionnaire shows:
In this episode at Garabandal, similar to what has so often occurred in the Bible, things and sayings have to be understood according to common opinion. And in the understanding of people who do not live by a clock, the days are separated simply the night; the day itself begins with getting up in the morning and lasts until going to bed again.
Was the climate of shoving, rushing, jostling, etc. proper for a Eucharistic event?
Fr. Etelvino responded without much perspective:
«No. It seems to me it would be rather improper for several reasons.»
I would remind both him and the members of the Commission about what so often occurred around Jesus; for example in the episode of the woman with the hemorrhage. (Luke 8: 33-45)
Certainly reverence and proper decorum are required for a proper relationship with God; but this is not easy to be maintained when strong feelings pull on people. Fortunately God is more understanding than men.
55. I recently heard the impression of another qualified witness: Pepe Díez.
He told me that what he has always described about the miracle of the host is the actual thing that he personally observed very close up . . . But he also said that whenever he described it, it seemed that what he said did not actually correspond to the reality, since everything that he could say did not come close to what there was; it was only a pale reflection.
He could find no words to express what he had experienced.
While observing the thing on that night, he was neither nervous nor excited, but in control of himself and engaged only in observing with the greatest attention. It was only when it was all over that he felt a tremendous sensation; the thrill of experiencing something that could not be repeated in his lifetime.
56. Some of these pictures are well known since they have appeared in various publications about Garabandal.