Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are You Going to Garabandal?

Garabandal is located in the north west of Spain about three hours Village drive from the French border town of Irun. It is an hour and fifteen minutes drive south of Santander, (80.6 km) a substantial coastal city where the Bishop of the diocese resides. (See Michelin map 572 Regional Espana).

From Madrid it is a day drive. The shorter route to Garabandal is via Burgos, Corconte, Reinosa, Cabuerniga, Puentenansa and Cosio. The longer but better route is via Burgos, Vargas, Torrelavega, Cabezon de la Sal, Cabuerniga, Puentenansa and Cosio. Both routes are good. The road from Puentenansa to Cosio is undergoing major upgrading.

From Santander it is about an hours drive to Cosio. The freeway south is excellent. You take the turnoff at Pesues to Puentenansa and on to Garabandal, or you can turn off earlier to Cabezon de la Sal and travel the mountain route.

From Madrid, catch the RENFE train at Chamartin station to Santander (about five hours). Book first class for more comfortable seating. Hotel Chamartin (good accommodation) is next to the train station.

logoImage via Wikipedia

From Santander catch the FEVE train to Cabezon de la Sal. This train departs every hour from 6.15 am to 20.15 pm and takes about one hour at a cost of 2.50 Euros. Take a taxi to Garabandal, about a half hour drive at a cost of 40 Euros. If none available at the station, telephone Jose on 609 442210.

The airport, located 5 kilometres to the east of the city centre, has domestic flights connecting Santander with Barcelona and Madrid and Ryanair International flights from London Stansted, Rome-Ciampino and Frankfurt-Hahn.

NB As Ryanair is a low cost budget airline, it is important to be aware of their strict baggage regulations. Each passenger is allowed free of charge, one piece of cabin baggage weighing no more than 120 kg with maximum dimensions of 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm. If your total baggage does not meet these guidelines, then refer to to check on their strict terms and conditions of travel for carrying your baggage in the aircraft hold.

There is a permanent bus service which connects Santander Airport with the city centre bus station every 30 minutes. The bus ticket costs approximat
Bilbao Airport.Bilbao Airport. Image via Wikipedia
ely 1.6 Euros.

Additionally, Bilbao Airport, situated about 110 kms from Santander, operates international flights to and from the main European capitals. There are buses and trains to and from Bilbao Airport to the city centre, where there is a coach service to Santander.

Sari's Hotel offers very good accommodation, great food, wine and bar facilities. Phone number is 34 (Country code) 9 4272 7145. Miguel Angel Gonzales (the Village Mayor), also offers home style accommodation and meals. Phone number is 34 (Country code) 9 4272 7113.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Garabandal and the Synagogue

and the
by the late Francois Turner, O.P.
Author of the Garabandal Book, "O Children Listen to Me"

After the Warning, the Miracle and the supernatural Permanent Sign, there will be a new beginning, a new era in the history of mankind.
(This talk was given in a barn situated between the village of Garabandal and the pine trees above it, on August 8, 1988, the feast of St. Dominic.)
Reprinted from GARABANDAL International MAGAZINE October - December 2002
In order to understand and assess correctly its portent, certain points of history must be kept in mind.
    Historians consider that the first schism in the history of the People of God was that between the Church of the Gentiles and the Church of the Jews. The schism was caused by the refusal of the Synagogue to accept in its midst those Jews who recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah of Israel. Their exclusion was not pronounced directly but through the introduction into the Eighteen Benedictions of a Malediction, which the Christians could not countenance and to which they could not give a solemn "Amen." This was done at the Synod of Jamnia on or about 75 AD.
    For several centuries, this first schism, mother of all other schisms, was not fully effective. In the Roman basilica of Santa Sabina in the early 5th century, portentous figures of the Church of the Gentiles and of the synagogue stand side by side as true sisters.
    But they were drifting apart and worse still, they had, in turn, persecuted each other. And it should be said here, that the persecution of the Synagogue and the Jews has been far longer and more cruel from the time of Constantine to that of the French Revolution, which modified profoundly the situation with the rapid development of secularism and the ungodly anti-Semitism — really antijudaism — we all know about. But already in the 13th century, William Auvergne, bishop of Paris, could say that the barbarism of the Church must make everyone who saw it go rigid with horror; "bride is she no more, but a monster of frightful ugliness and ferocity."

1. The Pillar of Smoke at Garabandal
    It is an established fact that, in 1961 or 1962, Conchita was told by the Blessed Virgin that a senal, a sign, would remain at the Pines:
• that it would remain there para siempre, forever;
• that it will be possible to photograph and televise it, but not feel it;
• that it will appear as a thing not of this world, but originating from God;
• that it will be miraculous, a permanent miracle.
    It is comparable to a pillar of smoke, but also to rays of sunlight, insofar as it can be seen but not touched.     It will be made up of an unknown substance.
    The phrase para siempre needs some comment. In 1983, that is 20 years later, Conchita came to think that it meant "until the end of time." This is unlikely: the abstract notion of time is absent from the Bible, even from Rev. 10:6. Para siempre could either be a simplification of haste el fin de los tiempos or have the same meaning often found in the Ancient Testament of "age-lasting," and usually translated to mean "forever." Here is an example among a hundred:
    "Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation."

2. The Pillar of Smoke in the Bible
    There are three references to the Pillar of Smoke in the Bible. All the Hebrews who followed Moses out of Egypt saw "the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night" saving them from the Egyptians, giving them the Torah at Mount Sinai, remaining present among His People, serving as their guide "wherever they halted on their journey," "marking out their encampments." It was the Lord who "appeared to them in this pillar of cloud that rose above them at the tabernacle door."
    The mysterious cloud invaded the temple of Solomon. Nehemias celebrated the Lord, "leading thy people on their journey, hidden by day in a pillar of cloud, by night in a pillar of fire, to light the path they must tread."
    The Psalms mention it five times, as guide of God's People, as overcoming the idolaters, as protector, as carrying His word: "His voice came to them from the pillar of cloud; so they heard the decrees, the law he gave them."
    The prophets announced that it would come back "a cloud of smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night." "It shall come to pass that I will pour out my spirit upon everyone... and I will show wonders in the heavens and on earth, blood, fire, and pillar of smoke."
    The luminous cloud will become a choice subject of rabbinic thought and of Christian mystical theology (see Jerusalem Bible. Note on Ex. 13:22). All Jews know about it, many know what this pillar meant; a manifestation of God dwelling among His chosen people, tenting, tabernacling amidst them, guiding them, shedding light upon them, speaking to them. And the other nations know this. It is the Shekinah, the most sacred and mysterious sign of the deity. It stands in the middle of heaven, teaches Rabbi Eliezer.

3. Pillar of Smoke Connected with Garabandal
    How is this Pillar of Smoke connected with Garabandal? Not only was this pillar of smoke announced by Conchita as a permanent miracle above the pines, but it was actually seen by a number of people at Garabandal.
    On November 18, 1961, in the evening, the column of smoke by day, or fire by night, was seen and felt, thanks to the heat it radiated, between the nine pines and the last station of the Way of the Cross build there some 20 years later.
    It was a cold evening. A shepherd, about 20 years old, was coming down the mountain with his sheep. As he went by the pine trees, he noticed a column of smoke above a black round spot some 50cm in diameter. Without bothering to figure out its nature, he moved toward it and warmed himself awhile thanks to its heat, while keeping an eye on his sheep. He went down to Cosio, after crossing Garabandal, without telling anyone about the phenomena, so it seems. His name is Ramon Gonzalez.
    It was also seen from the village for two or three months in that autumn of 1962, as a smoke by day and a gleam by night. The written testimony we have is good.
    It was seen again on November 25, 1962, by four excellent French witnesses. The column was seen at night, clear cut and luminous. Their testimony has been collected and will be published when the proper time comes.

4. And When it is Published How will the Rabbis React?
    And, not only the Rabbis, but also all Jews, who, it seems, have a thorough knowledge of their Scriptures. Their religious life is based upon religious schooling more than anything else. In Israel, whatever their beliefs, all citizens have studied the Hebrew Bible as their only textbook of Hebrew classical literature. They treasure it as such. Whether or not they consider these texts as divinely inspired, they know them. They know that it has been prophetically announced that:
    "your sons and daughters will prophesy.. .I will show wonders"     "in the heavens and on the earth, blood, fire and pillars of smoke."
    And, thanks to the media, they will know at once that Catholic girls had announced that a pillar of smoke would appear in a Catholic village of Catholic Spain and remain there para siempre. They will all be interested, especially the Sephardim (the "Spanish" Jews). Their interest and attention will be extreme and lasting, because of the Aviso and the great miracle, which would, in a way, inaugurate the permanent miraculous pillar of smoke.
5. St. Bernard and St. Thomas Aquinas
    We are in a time when Ecumenism is very active, but then a certain feeling of disappointment tends to prevail, even among some specialists. The talks are numerous, very serious, and conducted in a good brotherly spirit. But they seem to stall, as if they could not, at least for some time, move into practical conclusions important to warrant so much work, so many protracted meetings and dialogues. Jean Toulat was perhaps right when he said that the way to the door to full unity lies in the healing of the first schism, that between the Church and the Synagogue, or should we say between the Synagogue and the Church.
    This is what St. Bernard and St. Thomas were saying in the 11th and 12th centuries. St. Bernard wrote that the time would come when the Church would side-step to let the Synagogue enter into the fullness of her Redemption: the Synagogue has not, in the eyes of God, lost or forsaken her birthright over her sister the Church.
PHOTO: In the history of apparitions, it is only in Garabandal that the Blessed Virgin identified herself as Jewish, saying that even in heaven, she belonged to the Jewish people.
    St. Thomas Aquinas in his commentary on the Song of Songs taught that the future reintegration of Israel would inaugurate the third Era of the Church. His authority is immense and this view of his opens up grandiose vistas.
    Are these views outdated in our century? Not at all. One can easily quote, not only Jean Toulat, but also Tremontant, Frere Epraim,.. John Paul II, to illustrate one or another of the aspects of "the mystery of the Church and the Synagogue" which we are considering here, but briefly and rudimentary. The good exegetes admit easily that a certain span of time may elapse between the "admission" of the Synagogue and the glorious coming of Jesus.
    What we are trying to convey is not merely that there will be an "admission" of "that part of Israel, which hardened itself (Rom 11:15-25). This, we all know, but that it will come as a consequence of what will happen, soon at Garabandal. Soon, because we know through Conchita that prophesied events are close at hand.
    We have given here a good piece of basic, fundamental evidence. It could suffice. But there is also some supporting evidence, which I shall now enumerate.

6. Michael
    The first apparitions of Garabandal were of an angel, from June 18 to July 2,1961, that of Michael the Archangel as forerunner of Mary, and Her messenger to Conchita alone.
    A lot has been written on Michael, and on Michael at Garabandal. We wish to add something directly related to our subject.
    Michael is named three times in the Hebrew Bible, each time as guardian of the people of Israel, or as its "Prince." The kingdoms of Persia and Greece also have their unnamed respective "Princes."
Photo: At the Wailing Wall, the holiest shrine of the Jewish world:All the Jews who have a thorough knowledge of their Scriptures will be interested in the appearance of a pillar of smoke at Garabandal.
    "Michael the great Prince stands for the children of thy people [of Daniel"] (Dan 10:20, 12:1).
    He will "stand up" in a time "of great trouble, and thanks to him "thy people shall be delivered." His power is great as he is "one of the chief Princes." (Dan 10:13).
    The Church may apply this to itself. But, surely, it is not possible to exclude "those who are Israelites" (see Rom 9:4-5). One should even add that they are the very first to have him as their "Prince."

7. Mary's Title at Garabandal
    For the first time in the history of Marian apparitions, as announced by Michael, She appeared under the title which refers to a holy place, one of the three holy mountains of the Ancient People of God, Mount Carmel, the others being Mount Sinai or Horeb, and Mount Zion or Jerusalem.
    Mount Carmel is in the Holy Land, in Israel, the mountain made holy by Elijah the prophet with whom it has a tight and direct connection. It is a mountain, which Mary had often seen from where She lived: Nazareth is the only village from which the whole holy mountain can be clearly seen.
    Moreover, of all religious orders, that of Mount Carmel is by far the closest to Judaism. Elias the prophet is considered by Carmelite Friars and Sisters as their Father, model, and even as their founder. He is feasted by them each year on July 20.

8. Mary's Complexion at Garabandal
    We have a description of the Blessed Virgin in Conchita's diary. It is vivid and quite detailed. Mary's features and complexion at Garabandal were that of a very beautiful Jewish maiden, with dark, wavy hair, a perfect nose, full lips and a rather dark complexion. In other apparitions, She appeared as a beautiful girl with the features of the other beautiful girls of the country where She would appear.

9. What Did Mary Say of Herself
    Mari-Loli asked Her one day: "Eres Judia?" Are You Jewish?
    ... (an answer was given which was heard by the visionaries. It was obviously "si," as they were heard answering back):
    "como somos Bastianas" - as we are Bastianas (villagers of San Sebastian de Garabandal).
    This did not escape the attention of Father Lucio Rodrigo, S.J. It was the first time, ever, in the history of apparitions that the Blessed Virgin identified Herself as such, saying that even in heaven, She belonged to the Jewish people.

10. The Day of the Four Jewesses
    Yes, there was a day of the four Jewesses at Garabandal. There was Muriel who was not baptized. Her mother being a Jewess, she was also a Jewess, according to the laws of the Synagogue. A sign of her future baptism was given miraculously at Garabandal during an apparition. Chon de Luis has related how all the holy water thrown out of a vial fell upon Muriel after being completely and inexplicably deflected from its natural course.
    The three other Jewesses were Mary, and two others, whom we shall now mention.

11. Believe it or Not: Pilar and Mari Cruz
    Thanks to the late Fr. Laffineur, I know that Pilar, Mari Cruz's mother, was a Pasiega, a native of the valley of Pas, rich and fertile, close from the road from Santander to Burgos. It has been colonized since the end of the 15th century by converseos, Jews who had been converted, either willingly through apostolic missions, or by force through the Spanish Inquisition. They found in this valley a refuge from the harassment's or downright persecutions from the Catholics of gentile origin who called them marranos, a very deprecatory term. I remember Pilar telling me that Fr. Laffineur was right and that she was Pasiega. She was thus considered and rightfully so, of Jewish stock, as well as her daughter, Mari Cruz.
    Now Mari Cruz played a leading part concerning the doubts and negations of all four visionaries. While the three eldest retracted their early negations, she, from January 1963 on, kept on denying that she had ever seen the Blessed Virgin, saying so in the village, and in front of the Bishop of Santander who received her on June 24, 1965. At first, the three others followed her, on this way of the negations, but later, in August 1966, their negations were neither coherent nor stable.
"... the way to the door to full unity lies in the healing of the first schism, that between the Church and the Synagogue..."

    Was that not a "failure" or "stumble" similar to the "failure" or "stumble" of the Jews contemporary of St. Paul (see Rom 11:11, these Jews who "did not obey to the Good News" (Rom 10:16)? Was not Mari Cruz's "disobedience" an image of her forefathers' "disobedience?" Not that we are judging anyone, of course. This may seem preposterous to some, but it is backed by a telling episode concerning the young visionary who received a special lesson from Our Lady on August 8, 1961. When the four visionaries reached the church in ecstasy, they stopped seeing the Virgin Mary, except for Mari Cruz who remained in ecstasy and followed Our Lady into the church, where She taught her to say the Creed very slowly. Would it not be that she had a special need to say the Creed, and to say it well? Would it not be as a representative of her ancestors? Moreover, don't the Scriptures often teach us in parabolic, symbolic actions?

12. El Fin de los Tiempos - (The End of Our Epoch)
    Conchita announced prophetically that, after John XXIII, there would be only three more popes before el fin de los tiempos, the end of our epoch.
    Let us first recall to mind that scriptural and God-inspired prophecies are not normally well understood before their accomplishment. But in some cases, it can be of some interest to present hypothetical explanations. Here is one:
    If we admit that the great miracle of Garabandal will occur during the present pontificate (and how could it be otherwise if Garabandal is genuine)?
    If we admit that the permanent miraculous presence of a column of smoke by day, of light by night will, to say the least, draw the attention of very many Jews, then there is no way to escape the conclusion that this will usher in a new epoch in the history of the Church: that of the healing of the first schism and the great reconciliation between the Church and the Synagogue, albeit not necessarily at once, not magically, but, nevertheless, a great reconciliation.
    And thus, this surprising phrase el fin de los Tiempos makes sense, especially if we compare it to our quotations of St. Bernard and Saint Thomas.

13. The Eighteen Benedictions
    The important events of Garabandal, more often than not, are dated on the 18th of the month: 18th June, 18* October, 18th November 1961, 18th June, 18th July 1962, 18th July 1965. Would this be nothing but a fortuitous, multiple coincidence? The answer is negative for two reasons, a reason of commonsense and a reason of theology. The first is that when an event or a peculiar conjunction of events has a minute chance to occur, reason looks for an adequate cause of its occurrence. To conjure up hazard or chance, is unsatisfactory. The second is that God, who is at work at Garabandal, always acts with "measure, number and weight" (Wisd 11:20). This pertains to the theology of the kairoi, on a point, which can well be considered as minor, but nevertheless is worth considering: it is real and precise.

    Another question related to that point is what would then be the divine intention in that choice. An Englishman has explained why Our Lady appeared six times on the 13th at Fatima: it is related to the six mentions of the month of Adar in the Book of Esther, figure of Our Lady. Why then did the Angel or Our Lady, or the Column of Smoke, often appear on the 18th of the month at Garabandal? The daily liturgical prayer of the Synagogue is made up of two parts, the first being the Shema Israel, the other the Shemone-Esre, the Eighteen Benedictions, composed long before the time of Jesus, and of which Jesus and Mary have sung together.
    By choosing the 18th of June, July, October and November to manifest himself through Michael, angel of the Synagogue (4 times). Mary the Jewess (twice), messages (twice), a column of smoke and light (once), a miracle (once), the Lord God has let His chosen and beloved people know that the Eighteen Benedictions sung three times a day for over two thousand years had been heard, received, and that its twelve demands would be fulfilled. The other benedictions are three prayers of praise, which come before and three prayers of thanksgivings, which come afterwards.
    Let us praise the Lord, let us sing hosannah, and now let me quote from Romans 11: 28-36.
    "In the spreading of the Gospel, the Jews are treated as God's enemies for your sake; but God's choice stands, and they are his friends for the sake of the patriarchs. For the gracious gifts of God and his calling are irrevocable. Just as formerly you were disobedient to God, but now have received mercy in the time of disobedience, so now, when you receive mercy, you have proved disobedient, but only in order that you too may receive mercy. For in making all mankind prisoners to disobedience, God's purpose was to show mercy to all mankind.     "O depth of wealth, wisdom, and knowledge in God! How unsearchable his judgments, how untraceable his ways! Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who has been his counsellor?
    "Who has ever made a gift to him, to receive a gift in return? Source, Guide and Goal of all that is - to him be glory forever! Amen."
    This conclusive prayer is all the more topical and proper that it comes as the last part of the conclusion of the Epistle to the Romans, which deals entirely, except chapters 14 and 15, with the mystery of the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles, and of its linkage in God's plans.     It would seem to me that Garabandal confirms this, and furthermore, it confirms that after the Warning, the Miracle and the supernatural Permanent Sign, there will be a new beginning, a new era in the history of mankind.
Reprinted from GARABANDAL International October - December 2002
by the late Francois Turner, O.P.
Author of the Garabandal Book, "O Children Listen to Me"


Please select a painting to view and print from the list below:
Blessed Virgin 1 - Daganzo
Blessed Virgin 2

No sooner had the apparitions of Our Lady begun at Garabandal than the young seers were hit with the obvious questions—What did the Blessed Virgin look like? How was she dressed? What was her voice like? How did she hold her hands? Etc…. These are natural inquiries and we all want to know the answers. It helps our devotion and leads us to a greater love for our Heavenly Mother when we can ‘picture in our minds’ how beautiful and loving she is and imagine the sweetness of her voice.

And the descriptions we get from visionaries like young Bernadette of Lourdes, the three shepherd children of Fatima and the four young girls at Garabandal never disappoint us. In fact, the seers always seem to have difficulty imparting the full beauty of their visions. Someone once asked Conchita, one of the Garabandal missionaries, if she ever saw a statue or picture of Our Lady that looked like her. Conchita simply said, no. Another time, with Conchita, the subject of Our Lady’s first appearance was brought up. At first, she tried to think of something to say and then her mind went back to those glorious events of the past. One could read volumes in the profound expression of inner peace and serenity that momentarily crossed her face as she fell hopelessly silent. Her questioner realized then, that no human tongue could adequately describe the beauty of what she saw.

Impossible though it may be for us to accurately envision Mary now glorified in heaven, the seers, nevertheless, have given descriptions to help us, at least, form a mental picture. Let us, therefore, with the help of various sources, try to recreate as best we can, the image of our beautiful Heavenly Mother as she appeared at Garabandal under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Conchita’s Diary
Here is the way visionary Conchita Gonzales described Our Lady in the diary she kept during the apparitions. Conchita was only 12 years old when she wrote the following account:

“The Blessed Virgin appears with a white dress, a blue mantle and a crown of small golden stars. Her feet are not visible. Her hands are wide open with the scapular on the right wrist. The scapular is brown-marron. Her hair is wavy and parted in the middle. She has an oval shaped face and her nose is long and delicate. Her mouth is very pretty with rather full lips. The color of her face is dark but lighter than that of the angel; it is different. Her voice is very lovely, a very unusual voice that I can’t describe. There is no woman that resembles the Blessed Virgin in her voice or in anything else.”

Here we have at least an overall picture of Our Lady as she appeared. As a further supplement, we go to an interview with Conchita conducted by Spanish artist Dona Isabel de Daganzo dated July 2, 1966*.
Q. Would her posture always be the same or did it change? Which posture was the habitual one?
A. Her habitual posture was to look at us with her arms extended, but she would also move them. She would look at the people and sometimes smile-at times more than at other times.
Q. How would you describe her eyes? Did she ever blink or look from one side to the other?
A. Her eyes were dark (Conchita used the word “negros” which actually means black), very sweet and merciful, more toward being large. It seems as though she is not looking at our faces or bodies but rather our souls. I never noticed if she blinked, but she would look from one side to the other.
Q. What was her gaze like? Would she speak to you without looking directly at you?
A. Her gaze is very difficult to describe. It makes one love her more and think more of her. Looking at her makes us completely happy- and her looking at us even more so. When she speaks to us she looks directly at us but she would change her gaze during the conversation.
Q. What was her voice like? Was it a real voice that can be heard through the ears at the same time that the lips can be seen to move, or was it a voice that is heard interiorly but without sound?
A. Her voice, very sweet and harmonious, is heard through the ears. Her words penetrate the heart; it’s as though she puts her voice inside. As she speaks she moves her lips like people do, with sound.
Q. When she spoke, was there any kind of resonance like an echo or did she speak with a clear voice?
A. She would speak with a most clear voice.
Q. Did she ever laugh or would she only smile? If she did laugh, how would you describe it?
A. Sometimes she laughed as well as smiled, but I couldn’t possibly explain her laughter. I will never know how to explain it.
Q. Did she kiss you frequently? Would you girls ask her to kiss you or would she just do it herself? What kind of kisses were they? Did you ever ask her to allow you to kiss her?
A. Yes, she would kiss us almost every day and she would do it. They were good-bye kisses on both cheeks. Yes, I did ask her if I could kiss her and sometimes I kissed her without asking.
Q. What would you feel during the ecstasies?
A. Very great peace and happiness.
Q. What would you feel after the vision?
A. After seeing the Virgin, it was like coming out of heaven (without seeing it) and I would be filled with the desire to love the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and to tell the people about them, for this is the only thing that can make us happy.
In February 1975, in an interview with members of the GARABANDAL Magazine staff, Conchita was asked if the Blessed Virgin ever looked sad or if she (Conchita) could ever picture Our Lady crying. The visionary replied that Our Lady never looked sad but always joyful, that her face seemed to be smiling even when she wasn’t smiling. Conchita said that she and the other girls would not have been able to stand to see the Blessed Virgin cry. When asked if Our Lady’s teeth could be seen when she smiled, Conchita answered, yes. We also asked about her voice- whether it was more high than low, however Conchita didn’t fully understand the question. But in her usual concise way, she said that the Blessed Virgin talked, “Just as we’re talking now.”

We cannot expect more from the Garabandal visionaries than the accounts they have given. They are simple, unsophisticated people not prone to giving overly dramatic or flowery descriptions. One senses that they would rather not try to describe the beauty of their visions knowing full well the futility of any attempt.

Although Mary is far more beautiful now that she is glorified in heaven than she was on earth, it might be interesting to hear the account of someone who actually saw her in person. St. Dionysius, after having been converted by St. Paul, was brought by the apostle to see the Blessed Virgin at Jerusalem. St. Dionysius said, when he beheld the Mother of Jesus, that if he had not been prevented from doing so, so great was her beauty, he would have fallen on his face and adored her as God.

As we know, the exterior beauty of Mary is symbolic of an inner beauty overflowing with a super-abundance of all the virtues. There were several incidences at Garabandal where her other qualities became manifest.

It is difficult for us living today, so tied down with our pride and self-love, to imagine the Queen of all Creation taking the crown from above her head and placing it in the hands of four little children so that they can inspect it, passing it from one to the other, before returning it to her. And yet, this is what Our Lady did at Garabandal.

Motherly Love and Approachability
How much this Heavenly Mother must love her children to permit them, innocent as they most surely were and yet still uncleansed from the faults and failings that burden most children, to kiss her without even asking.

Patience and Tolerance
We also know from the notes of Fr. Valentin Marichalar, pastor of Garabandal during the time of the apparitions, that when the children sensed an apparition was coming to an end, and knowing Our Lady would not leave until they blessed themselves, they would deliberately bless themselves backwards so that she would stay a little longer. And she would stay and bear their childish antics with motherly love and forbearance until they did it correctly.

Fr. Luis Andreu, S.J., who after seeing the Blessed Mother at Garabandal** (the only person other than the four girls to do so), on the drive home in the early hours of the next morning, very quietly and peacefully, passed from this life to the next. The mysterious death of the young priest could be attributed to nothing other than sheer joy. Shortly before expiring he exclaimed, “This is the happiest day of my life!” And then speaking for all of us, Fr. Luis added, “How fortunate we are to have a Mother like that in heaven!”
* A.M. Santiago, Garabandal 67, Editorial Circulo, Paseo Fernando el Catolico, 39, 7, Dcha., Zaragoza, Spain.
** On August 8, 1961, Fr. Luis saw in a vision, the Blessed Virgin and a preview of the great miracle to come.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Update on Mari-Loli's Last Days and Funeral

In Loving Memory of

Maria D. (Mari Loli) (Mazon Gonzalez) Lafleur
May 1, 1949 - April 20, 2009

Loli was born May 1, 1949, in a barn, to parents Ceferino Mazon and Julia Gonzalez, in San Sebastian de Garabandal, Spain. Her sibling were three brothers, Fernando, Ceferino, and Gustavo and four sisters, Amalia, Rosaura "Sari", Guadalupe "Lupita", and Aurora.
Her childhood was marked by apparitions and messages from the Virgin Mary.
She attended school in Garabandal, Saragoza, and Barcelona.
Loli first came to Brockton, Massachusetts with Maria Saraco, a Garabandal apparition lecturer, in 1972.
It was at St. Francis of Asisi Church in Medford, Massachusetts in 1972 where Loli met her husband to be, Francis (Frank) Lafleur for the first time. Their first date was in July 1973. They were engaged on September 17, 1973 and married five months later on February 2, 1974.
Frank and Loli's residence was in Massachusetts where they resided for five years. It was while living there, on May 31, 1975, that their first child Francis was born.
The family then moved to another residence in Massachusetts, where their two daughters were born. Melanie was born on April 28, 1980 and Maria Dolores on August 1, 1981.
On August 31, 1982, the family (now Frank, Loli, Francis, Melanie and Maria Dolores) moved to New Hampshire where Loli would live for the next 27 years until her death on Monday, April 20, 2009 at 7:45pm.
For many years, Loli suffered from Lupus and Scleroderma which ultimately caused fibrosis of her lungs. Loli died surrounded by her loving family and sister Sari (visiting from Spain at the time) who were all praying the rosary at her bedside. The last Mass Loli attended was on Easter Sunday (8 days prior to her death) which was celebrated, in the family's home, by longtime friend and spiritual advisor Father Rene Van Hissenhoven of Bogota, Colombia. Also on Easter Sunday, a Eucharistic prayer vigil was held in the village church at Garabandal, Spain, at 3:00 in the afternoon, for her intentions and for good and holy priests. Loli continued to receive Holy Communion daily, often brought to her by her husband or occasionally a visiting Priest. She received the Last Rites multiple times during the last week prior to her death. Loli had also been praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for many years and had just concluded the Divine Mercy Novena on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 19th, the day before her death.
At the time of her death, Loli had been married to her husband Francis for over 35 years. Her son Francis lived in Massachusetts. Her daughter Melanie resided with her husband Nate Johnston, and their child Nathan, in New Hampshire. Loli's daughter Maria Rosati lived with her husband Tom and their son Anthony in Massachusetts. Maria and Tom were also expecting the birth of a daughter, Layla Rosati, in June of that year.
Her funeral Mass took place Friday, April 24th. The Mass was concelebrated by Bishop William McNaughton, Fr. Rene Van Hissenhoven, Fr. Robert Murray, Fr. William Carroll, Fr. Robert Savoie and Fr. George Almeida. On May 1st (her birthday), a memorial Mass for family and friends living in Spain (and unable to attend the funeral) was concelebrated by several priests in the church of the village of her birth, San Sebastian de Garabandal Spain. 

Deacon John

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Theologian Writes New Book with Imprimatur on Marian Prophecy


CUMMING, GA (MAY 22, 2009) - A new book on apocalyptic times, The Secrets, Chastisement, and Triumph of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary, written by theologian and Southern Catholic College professor, Dr. Kelly Bowring, has just been released through Two Hearts Press, LLC (

The new book, The Secrets, Chastisement, and Triumph of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary, has just received the official recognition of the Catholic Church in the form of an imprimatur, affirming that nothing in the book contradicts Catholic faith and teaching. Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of the Philippines has just granted Dr. Bowring's new book on biblical and modern heavenly prophecy the Church’s official imprimatur. His secretary, Rev. Fr. Mhar Vincent Balili, expressed his hope for the success of the new book, stating, "May this book reach as many people as possible that they may deepen their devotions to the two hearts of Jesus and Mary."

Covering prophecies of the latter times, a topic of increasing interest to Christians in recent years, Professor Bowring's new book seems likely to become popular and far-reaching. Bowring's book shows with mounting evidence that we are living in biblically important times, unprecedented times of apparitions, visions, and messages from Heaven, which include Lourdes, Fatima, Garabandal, and Medjugorje. Dr. Bowring says they all point to one central warning concerning the times we are quickly approaching.

"I had become more and more interested in the apparitions and messages from Heaven that have been reported all over the world in our times," explains Dr. Bowring. "I wondered, what do they mean? What is Heaven saying to us? Why is God speaking to us, and why now?"

"As a professor of sacred theology at Southern Catholic College, I have been teaching courses both on biblical prophecy and on recent reported prophecies from the Blessed Virgin Mary; and I discovered how they related to each other in a remarkable way. It became clearer and clearer that God is sending His Mother from Heaven in our times to warn humanity that we are on the verge of the fulfillment of the Book of Revelation," said Dr. Bowring. "At first, such a claim sounds radical, but as I researched more, I discovered that the evidence from solid and divine sources is overwhelming and consistent."

"This, together with the signs of our times themselves, give credence to the proposal that we are living in the latter times. We are today facing the final battle between the Church and the anti-church, between the culture of life and the culture of death, as Pope John Paul II used to say. This is the most important message of our times and this is what I address in my book."

According to Dr. Bowring, The Secrets, Chastisement, and Triumph of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary chronologically discusses the biblical, prophetic, and apocalyptic events to come in our times by using the Bible and more recent solid sources of prophecy. It also discusses what Heaven is asking us to do in these times to avert the wrath of God and His justice for the sins of humanity – sins of abortion, fornication, and pornography; sins of secularization, relativism, and materialistic and hedonistic selfishness. Says Dr. Bowring, "Never in the history of humanity has the Christianized Western world so ignored and rejected God as in our times."

Dr. Bowring's book addresses God’s call to repentance and to make reparation for the sins of humanity while there is still time. Finally, he says the book also calls for hope, because God declares through His prophecies that in the end He will intervene, He will conquer, and He will bring to humanity a great era of peace for a thousand years. "God is giving us hope in the midst of our times and of those apocalyptic times to come, to help us to see that He will be with us if we remain faithful to Him," explains Dr. Bowring.
"In the end, all will work out well for the children of God and for the future of humanity, as God is always in control. This book assures us of God’s mercy for our times, and that all these things to come are within His divine Providence. Thus, this is a book of warning and of hope that offers a clear and detailed heaven-revealed perspective of the time we are living in and of those to come in our times."

To receive additional information on The Secrets, Chastisement, and Triumph of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary or to purchase a copy, please visit

Contact: Two Hearts Press, LLC  GA, 30041 US
Diana Bowring - director of PR, 770-888-2248

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sharing Another E-mail from Mr. Fahy regarding Garabandal:

Garabandal Ecstasy 4Jacinta and Mari-Loli Image by garabandal archives via Flickr
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At the end of this bulletin there is something very grave to take seriously to heart.
News and Commentary:
1.    Mary Loli, who knew the year of the coming Warning, died on April 18 after long years of suffering from lupus.
2.    Our John Paul II Institute of Christian Spirituality conducted a wonderful Retreat at the House of Sanctification in Garabandal. The Retreat was predominately on the Reign of the Divine Will in souls. Present were Priests, nuns, laity from Australia, Korea, Canada and the USA.
3.    The mysterious words of Our Lady of Garabandal about the "end of the times" has often been a topic of discussion. Over the years some thoughts have come to mind such as:  "The end of an era," "The end of our times that we have been accustomed to," "The language of the Bible: 'a time, a times, and half a time' being accomodated to a 'time' equaling 2000 years, which might relate to what Jesus told Luisa Piccarreta about how God renews the world every 2000 years—the Deluge, the Redemption, and now the developing Reign of the Divine Will. The Bible's 'time, a times, and a half a time' might be rendered as 2000 years from Adam to the Flood + 2000 more years to Redemption + another 2000 years to now, and then 1000 years from now to the end of the world.
However, a friend just recently pointed out to me that the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 21, verse 24 and its contextual verses, speaks about the 'times of the nations" being fulfilled. The friend mused that the coming Great Tribulation of Communism led by a highly nationalistic Russia just might bring about a situation that is the beginning of the end of the "times of the nations." The later Chastisement that will come directly from God seems that it would definitely bring about not only the "end of the times, "which seems also to bring the end of the "times of the nations."  Then, those who survive to live in the Reign of the Divine Will very likely will just live upon this beautiful planet without any "nations."
But, we all know that these mysterious predictions almost always are fulfilled in unexpected and surprising ways which God has known from all Eternity—and which can seem so reasonable after they have taken place.
4.    We have had a lot of new subscribers to the Garabandal Info since the last report, so, to make things easy, I am attaching again the "Significant Points of Garabandal" report that most of you have already received a number of times by these emails.
5.    Now, the very grave things that we must acknowledge, even if we would prefer not to:
    a.    At a day of sharing the teachings of Luisa last Saturday near Crossville, TN, one of the men told me that he had underlined a passage in a book on Fatima in which Jacinta told of Our Lady's sorrow that most people of these times will perish (i.e. go to Hell). I am waiting for the exact quote and reference, which I can send to you later.
    b.    Mary Loli of Garabandal told of the great sorrow of Our Lady when She told her that "few will see God."
    c.    Jesus told Luisa Piccarreta that for God's third renewal of the world (mentioned in #3 above) to be accomplished, that He would have to purge the earth and that a large part of the present generation would have to be destroyed. (Vol. 12 -January 29,1919)
Brothers and Sisters: This is not only a most grave matter, but one of Catastophic Proportions regarding souls who will be screaming in the Fires of Hell for all Eternity. (Remember the Vision of Hell that Our Lady of Fatima showed the three children
A VISION OF HELL!?Image by Torley via Flickr
on July 13, 1917).
Therefore, please don't be complacent about yourself and your fellow pilgrims here on earth—your children, your relatives, your neighbors, etc.  Pray sincerely to the Supreme Being for the Wisdom and Fortitude to influence souls to turn back to God, whole heartedly.  And quit wasting time with silly things and useless conversations.
Respectfully yours, in the Adorable Will of God,
Thomas Fahy

Significant Points of the Great Drama of Garabandal
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


By Marilynn Lomangino
Through the everyday events of our lives, God reveals simple lessons to us. One day, when our family was on vacation at the seashore, we decided to take a walk. We came upon a little open-air stand called “The Oyster Shop.” Inside, a lady stood with a big bucket of oysters. She said that each oyster had a pearl and, for five dollars, the children could choose one. She would open it for them, and whatever was inside would be theirs. Next, she began a slide presentation and explained the story of how a pearl develops.

The woman told us that, at some time in the course of the oyster’s development, a foreign substance such as a grain of sand gets into the little muscle and irritates the oyster. In response, the oyster covers that irritant with a secretion. The longer the irritation is there, the more the oyster coats it. Pearl oysters vary in size and can be quite rough and ugly. Yet what is happening inside is a combination of rainbows, moonlight, and bits of flame. Once the oyster accepts the irritation as part of itself, the pearl begins to develop. The worst storms, gales, even hurricanes will not dislodge it. As time goes by and this oyster is finally pulled up from the bed where it has been for many years, it is opened only to reveal a beautiful pearl.

Later, when I had time to think, I meditated on the story of how a pearl forms. I realized it is just like the story of Garabandal. Something comes into our spiritual life; it comes because the Blessed Mother has chosen us to do something special for her. It is not natural to ourselves because the Message of Garabandal involves penance, prayer, sacrifice, and acts of love—things that are not always easy for our human nature to accomplish. The longer the substance is there, the more it can irritate. Sometimes we are asked to do things that we really don’t want to do. For example, maybe we’ve taken long trips under very, very difficult circumstances. But we offer that sacrifice up so that finally, when we get to the end of our Garabandal life, we will be able to open up our little spiritual oyster and give the Blessed Mother our special pearl. The longer we stay committed and the more we do, the more beautiful will be the pearl that each one of us can give.

So I pass this story of the pearl on to you. You are working on a little pearl for the Blessed Mother. The pearl’s name is GARABANDAL, and you are living and spreading the message. The Blessed Mother has picked you to carry it. And your finished pearl will be a unique gift to the Blessed Mother—one that no one else has.
To develop the theme of the pearl, use the letters—P-E-A-R-L—as a guide:

“P” is for Prayer, particularly for Priests. The Blessed Mother said, “Many cardinals, bishops and priests are on the road to perdition and they’re taking many souls with them.” In the early 1960s, no one could anticipate the tremendous crisis that the Church was facing. But now we see it. So I caution you: don’t criticize priests, pray for them. The devil is attacking them. They are God’s consecrated souls and the only instruments for bringing the Eucharist into this poor world of ours. Give them all the encouragement, love, and prayers that you can.

“E” is for Eucharist. At Garabandal, the Blessed Mother said, “Less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist.” She also said to Conchita, “My Son waits for you in the tabernacle night and day.” Decades ago, men tipped their hats in front of a Catholic church to acknowledge the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. People used to make visits to the church on their way home from work. Mothers would take their children into the church, just as you would take the children to visit someone whom you love dearly. We should continue these traditions today.

Take the children, even just for a minute, into the church. Tell them that Jesus is there in the tabernacle and that Jesus loves them. We need this, especially today when we have fewer and fewer priests and good sisters to teach as they did so marvelously for many years. Remember, Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, for such is the kingdom of heaven.”

“A” is for Acts of Love. How many songs and poems have been written about love? One example is a song called “Perhaps Love,” recorded by Placido Domingo and John Denver. Maybe you have heard it; it goes, “Perhaps love is like a dream; perhaps love is like the ocean; perhaps love is like a memory.” But in the Bible, Saint Paul tells us exactly what love is. He says, “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, it’s not pompous, it’s not rude. Love does not seek it’s own interest, love is not quick tempered, love does not brood over injuries. Love bears all things, love believes all things, love hopes in all things, and love endures all things.”

We know there are three great virtues—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. When the Blessed Mother came to Garabandal, she said, “You must lead good lives.” That means that you must love. Every day, you can fit so many acts of love into the normal things you do for your family, your coworkers, the disabled, and those who perhaps don’t know Jesus and Mary at all. You must seek out these opportunities and practice acts of love because that is what the Blessed Mother expects of you.

“R” is for the Rosary. And I always think of the rosary and the scapular as being inseparable. The rosary is most important in your prayer life—I have a set of rosary beads from almost every significant event in my life--and the scapular is the sign of consecration. Learn about the scapular and its promise. You must wear it. Get your children and loved ones enrolled in the scapular, too. Tell them about the protection that the scapular offers; it is your duty. You don’t have to make them believe it, but you have to tell them. With the protection of the Blessed Mother around them, they belong to her. She will put her special shield around them and keep her promise so that when they die, she will be there to take them to heaven. Our Lady brought the rosary and the scapular to Garabandal to show their importance in our times.

Finally, “L” is to promote Love of Our Lady. Get to know the Blessed Mother; read about her; say your rosary; think about her virtue. She is not an ordinary Lady. She is the Immaculate Conception, special and particular. She is God’s chosen vessel. She has all the virtues, the beauties, and the graces of the Church. Our Lady is the most beautiful Lady. Those who have seen her cannot describe the beauty of her face and voice. At Garabandal, Our Blessed Mother appeared as a young girl with delicate, olive-colored skin. She had soft, light-brown hair and a crown of twelve golden stars encircling her head. She wore a white dress with a very faint flowered print on it, and she was draped in a beautiful blue mantle. That mantle, I tell my sons, enshrouds and protects all of us. Even though we may be separated--I’m at home and they’re in school—we’re all under that same mantle of Our Blessed Mother. She is the beautiful Lady in blue.
You will receive marvelous favors through the Blessed Mother’s intercession. If you work for the Blessed Mother, she is a wonderful, loving employer. But you cannot work for someone whom you don’t love, and you cannot love someone whom you don’t know. So find out about Mary. Read about her at Garabandal; learn about the Padre Pio connection; hear what the Blessed Mother has to say. Every little thought has a message for you. Before you begin reading, say a prayer to Mary, who is the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Ask her, “What would you have me know today? What would you have me do today so that I can bring Jesus with me through the world, wherever I go, whomever I am with, today.” And she will answer you.
God Bless You.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Garabandal and the Priesthood

By Father Materne Laffineur
Together with a devotion to the Eucharist, Garabandal teaches a great devotion for the priesthood. Our Lady teaches the girls to pray often for priests. Loli said one day, "I often pray for them, especially for those who wish that they were not priests. I pray that they may at least go on saying Mass."

They have the greatest reverence and affection for all members of the clergy, so much so that they are often reproached for "giving a warmer welcome to priests than to lay people."
In spite of the imprudence and unsettling hostility of certain priests, the children have never been heard to utter the least criticism of them or to show them the least discourtesy. They even make a special point of praying for them, especially for those who cause the children to suffer for reasons unknown to them.
To everyone expressing surprise at this, Loli replies, "When in the presence of an angel and of a priest, I would greet the priest first and it is to the priest that I would bow first of all."
That does not prevent them from from being nice little Spanish girls with a liveliness that reminds us of certain answers given by their illustrious compatriot. St. Teresa of Avila!
One theologian, a young priest and a fine one at that, asked Conchita:
"If you think that a priest has more power than an angel, whom would you prefer to see, the angel or me?"
"Oh, the angel of course! He is much better looking than you!"
Another cleric, deciding to put the little girls through one of those psychological "tests", asked Conchita this strange question:
"If your parish priest were neither a man nor a woman but an animal, what kind of animal would you like him to be?"
"A lamb."
"Because he would be like Jesus Who sacrificed Himself for us."

Monday, May 18, 2009

OUR LADY GIVES A PROOF (To a Dancer from the “Folies Bergeres”)

By Joseph A. Pelletier, A. A.

The story of the proof given by Our Lady at Garabandal to a dancer from the “Folies Bergeres” is just one of many instances of this kind that happened during the days of the apparitions. This particular story has a very special meaning for me personally since it was told by a friend, Dr. Ricardo Puncernau, who witnessed it and in a sense was directly involved in it. During the summer of 1968, when I was trying to make up my mind about Garabandal, I spent a most fruitful evening with the doctor in his home in Barcelona. He had a wealth of information about the apparitions and was particularly well informed about the Commission of Investigation of Santander. In 1970, I spent another evening with him in Barcelona. This time I was with Joey Lomangino and a group of people on our summer European trip.

Dr. Puncernau is one of the important witnesses of Garabandal. He traveled all the way across Spain from Barcelona several times while the apparitions were taking place and was present at some fifteen or twenty of them. A highly qualified neurologist and an assistant professor at the Barcelona Medical School, he examined the girls very seriously and found them to be healthy and normal from every point of view. He has delivered about ninety lectures on Garabandal, many of them to medical groups of mixed faith. He is undoubtedly one of the top medical and psychological experts on Garabandal.

In December of 1974, the doctor wrote a very personal report on some of the things which happened at Garabandal on the occasion of his visits which he has never mentioned before, things “seen through the prism of a Christian doctor” that he believes need to be said. We are grateful to him for sharing this authentic, first hand information with us. There is nothing sensationally new in the doctor’s report. Basically, he witnessed the same type of things that others did who came to the village. The real merit of the document derives from its great confirming value, coming as it does from a man of complete hon
Folies Bergères costume, from postcard, first ...Image via Wikipedia
esty whose medical training and background equips him to be a critical and objective observer.

The incident of the dancer from the “Folies Bergeres” occurred during Doctor Puncernau’s first visit to Garabandal and on his very first day there. He had come with his wife, Julia, and young daughter, Margarita. They had traveled with another important witness of the apparitions, Mercedes Salisachs, in her auto. After taking up lodging in one of the houses at the edge of the village, the doctor and his daughter walked to the square in front of the combination restaurant-store owned and conducted by Ceferino, father of Mari Loli, one of the four seers. Ceferino was in the middle of the square talking with some friends. After speaking with these people for a while, word came that Conchita had gone into ecstasy. Shortly thereafter, Jacinta and Mari Loli went into ecstasy, and finally Mari Cruz.

As happened so often at Garabandal, although the four girls had not gone into ecstasy together, Our Lady eventually led them together and they began walking, side-by-side, through the village reciting the rosary. People began to gather behind them, following them and answering the prayers of the rosary.

Doctor Puncernau watched them for a moment, then went into Ceferino’s little establishment to get a coca-cola. There he encountered a young lady and soon engaged her in conversation. He discovered that she was from Uruguay but working at the same time at the “Folies Bergeres” in Paris. He soon learned that not only did she not believe in the apparitions, but that she did not believe in anything at all. She said she had come to Garabandal simply out of curiosity.

The doctor suggested that they go out into the village to see what had happened to the four girls. The young lady agreed and they left Ceferino’s. They hid themselves in the shadow of a house and observed from a distance that the girls were in ecstasy and reciting the rosary, while walking toward the village church of Saint Sebastian. As they continued to watch the girls from the shadowed wall of the house, they noticed that Conchita, still in ecstasy and holding a small crucifix in her hand, was leaving her three friends and starting to walk normally, but with unusual speed toward them.

The doctor thought to himself: “This girl has learned that you are a doctor, and now she is coming to impress you.” However, he also wondered: “ But how did she notice you hidden (in the shadows)?”

He soon discovered that his surmise was wrong. Conchita went directly to the young lady from Uruguay and placed the crucifix with force against her lips for her to kiss, once, twice, three times. Her mission accomplished, Conchita, still in ecstasy, departed to rejoin her friends and continue reciting the rosary with them.

The dancer from the “Folies Bergeres” began to cry profusely, with great, deep sobs. She seemed inconsolable. The doctor feared she was having an attack of some kind and took her to the benches along the outside wall of Ceferino’s establishment. People gathered around as the doctor attempted to comfort and calm her.

Finally, she was able to speak and she told the doctor what had shaken her so profoundly. As a considerable number of people were drawn to do, she had asked for a personal proof of the reality of the apparitions. She had thought to herself: “If it is true that the Blessed Virgin is appearing, may one of the girls come and give me a proof of it.”

“The thought had hardly crossed my mind, “ said the dancer, “when Conchita came quickly toward me to give me the crucifix to kiss. But, I did not want to kiss it and I held her hand back. However, with unusual strength she placed the crucifix against my lips and there was nothing I could do but kiss it, once, twice, three times. I, the incredulous, I, the atheist, I, who believed in nothing at all. I was exceedingly moved by this.”

The happy ending of the story occurred sometime later. The doctor and the dancer wrote to each other occasionally and eventually he learned that she left the “Folies Bergere” and returned to her family in Uruguay.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009


By Father Alfred Combe

Whenever Our Lady appears to her children on earth under a particular name, it is not without a purpose. At Lourdes in 1858, when a young Bernadette Soubirous asked the “beautiful lady” who she was, the answer came: “I am the Immaculate Conception. “ This was clearly a reaffirmation of the newly proclaimed dogma of the Immaculate Conception decreed by Pope Pius IX a few short years before in 1854. When Our Lady came to Fatima in 1917 as “The Lady of the Rosary,” it was to emphasize that most powerful prayer and urge us to use it in imploring God’s mercy and gaining Our Lady’s help and protection against the catastrophic events which were to come in the form of World War II and the global spread of atheistic communism.

Why then did the Blessed Virgin come to Garabandal as “Our Lady of Mount Carmel”? What significance does this have for Christians today?

A Divine Theme
If we go back to Lourdes we can begin to see a divine theme being developed. The Blessed Virgin’s last appearance at Lourdes was on July 16, 1858, feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. During the final apparition at Fatima, October 13, 1917 when the “miracle of the sun” occurred, Our Lady first appeared as she had been appearing to the three shepherd children with her sorrowful heart exposed. And then she appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel with “something hanging from her right hand.” We can safely assume that the “something” was the scapular. Forty-four years later in the little mountain hamlet of San Sebastian de Garabandal in northern Spain, Our Lady appears with a large brown scapular prominently draped over her right wrist.

The Title and the Sacrament
In 1251, Mary appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel to Saint Simone Stock, General of the Order of Carmelites, holding in her hand a scapular. She directed him to found a confraternity whose members should wear it and consecrate themselves to her service. Ever since then, the title “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” and the scapular have been inseparably linked.

It is also a tradition among the Carmelites that when Elijah the prophet (of Mount Carmel) threw his cloak over Elisha thus imparting his spirit to him, it was a prefiguration of Mary clothing her children with the brown scapular. It is of the greatest importance for Catholics living today as we enter into humanity’s darkest hour, to be consecrated by scapular to our heavenly Mother, placing ourselves under the mantle of her protection. A prophecy attributed to Saint Dominic further underlines this importance,” one day through the rosary and the scapular, she (Our Lady) will save the world.”

But aside from its connection with the scapular, does the title, “Our Lady of Mount Carmel,” have any other significance?”

Carmel-A Symbol of Beauty
Carmel is a celebrated mountain near modern Haifa. Its Hebrew name means “garden” or “orchard”. In early times it was so named because of the fertility of its slopes, well irrigated, they bore a vegetation so abundant and varied, that Carmel passed into Biblical verse to evoke the very idea of beauty and abundance. In the Song of Solomon, the bridegroom, so dazzled by the beauty of the bride, says to her, ”Thy head is held high like Carmel…How beautiful thou art…Oh love, oh delight!” (Song 7:6,7).

Isaiah, the prophet, speaking of the glory of Lebanon is bestowed upon it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of Yahweh, the splendor of our God” (Is 35:2). In its piety, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Church has taken this Biblical image and applied it to the Blessed Virgin, “Flower of Carmel, Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven.” Indeed at Garabandal, the four little seers were in ecstasy before Our Lady of Carmel, enraptured by her beauty. Thus through her title, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Blessed Virgin, the Entirely Beautiful, the Entirely Holy, the Entirely Good, the Joy of God recalls to us, as in the Magnificent, “the marvels” that God did for her-and for us. If, by her beauty she wishes to attract us to her heart, is it not to make us hear and to heed her message of salvation?

Carmel-A Symbol of Faith
Just as Mount Horeb in Sinai reminds us of Moses and “the Law”, Mount Carmel calls to mind Elijah and “the Prophets”. It is the Holy Mountain, the Inspired Mountain.

During the time of Elijah, the kingdom of Israel was in a pitiable state. False priests and prophets by the hundreds, under the protection of the court, openly preached the worship of Baal. To this idolatry were added corruption, injustice and crime. The situation was so drastic that the very foundation of Israel’s faith was threatened.

The Man of Faith
Then Elijah made his appearance. Alone in the face of the priests and prophets of Baal, alone before the king and the people, alone against all the forces of decomposition, Elijah rose up-a champion of the ABSOLUTE. A man of prayer and penance, of contemplation of action; of boldness and humility, incorruptible before the great ones, good to the poor and the “widowed”, completely consumed by the fire of God, Elijah preached conversion to the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

After all of Israel had fallen to the worship of Baal, Elijah assembled the entire population and the 450 false prophets on Mount Carmel and proposed a test. Both he and the false prophets would call upon Baal to provide the fire and Elijah would call upon the Lord. Everyone agreed that whichever sacrifice was set ablaze would determine the true God. The prophets of Baal, after many hours of preparation, hopping around the altar and slashing themselves with swords were unable to produce the fire. Then Elijah called upon the Lord and fire came down from heaven not only consuming the sacrifice, but the altar as well. When the Israelites saw this, they fell prostrate in worship of the one true God.

Elijah became so popular in Israel that his name will forever associated with Mount Carmel and its dramatic role in Elijah’s contest on behalf of God. Since that time, Mount Carmel has been a symbol of conversion or turning back to God.

False Prophets
Today, all the powers of evil are breaking out against our Christian faith, sometimes openly, but more often under the guise of prophets or as wolves in sheep’s clothing. False prophets attack the most sacred of dogmatic truths, and they lure to shipwreck the principal mystical, ascetic, moral, spiritual and humane values of our time.

The Woman of Faith
Like Elijah, but more than Elijah, because she is the Queen of Prophets, Mary repeats to us the word of God which spans the ages, “be converted” (Acts 3:19). At Garabandal she said, “We must do much penance…If we do not change…a chastisement will come.” She recalls to us the ABSOLUTE of the Eucharist and of the priesthood, “We must…visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently… Many cardinals, bishops and priests are on the road to perdition…” Because she is the Co-redemptress, she puts before us the ABSOLUTE of the Cross-and the sacrifice, “ We must make many sacrifices…Think of the passion of Jesus.” And because she is the Immaculate One, she calls us to perfection, “But above all we must be very good.”

The Full Meaning
Now we can begin to see why the Blessed Virgin came to Garabandal as Our Lady of Mount Carmel-that symbol of motherly protection, of beauty, faith, and conversion.

In a locution on July 20, 1963, Our Lord told Conchita that as a result of the miracle, “she (Russia)… will be converted, and thus everybody will love Our Hearts,” If we meditate on this, we realize that we cannot begin to imagine the full impact the total Garabandal event will have on the world. Perhaps the real significance of the Blessed Mother’s title at Garibandal is reserved for the future. And here is a point to contemplate: On one side of the scapular which Mary had on her wrist at Garabandal was a cross; on the other side was a mountain.