Warning of Disaster

—I tell you that this is the last message.

—You are in the last warnings!
I do not know if the first of these two statements should be taken in its absolute sense, or if it has only a relative meaning.
Understanding it in its absolute way, it would affirm categorically that there will be no more communications from heaven until the great hour comes; we are already sufficiently warned. In which case, we would have to reject as not authentic the many messages which have been proliferating during recent years in many sites of “apparitions?” by numerous “visionaries?” of all types.
But if the statement is taken in its relative sense, then it only alerts us that there will be no more messages at Garabandal.
The same could be said with regard to the second statement, that we are in the last warnings.
Which of the two interpretations is the correct one? I honestly do not know.

What is very definite is that Garabandal has warned us in an unequivocal way about the imminence of a very grave, decisive period that I do not hesitate to classify as eschatological. As we are not paying attention to this last announcement-admonition for amendment, a tremendous flood of God’s justice will inexorably fall on mankind. Moral decay and apostasy are reaching their limits.

Call to Repentance

—You should avoid the wrath of the Good God.
—I want to tell you to amend your lives.

—You should sacrifice yourself more.

—Think of the Passion of Jesus.

We provoke the wrath of God upon ourselves by our own rebellion, our own disobedience, our own self-will. All evil consists in trying to follow our own ways, instead of seeking the ways of God.
Our ways are very easy to follow; it suffices to allow ourselves to be led. But ours are ways of sin— and not only the sin of the world that so many new books now propose—and they lead us to destruction. On the other hand, the ways of God, how difficult they can be at times! His are the ways of triumph and salvation; but they can only be traveled through effort and sacrifice: two things that our weakened nature abhors.
The world—men prone to serve the flesh—inclines to ease and not to combat, to pleasure and not to service, to leisure and not to work, to the good life and not to good living. This manner of living—spread throughout the Church—is inflicting mortal wounds.
Psuedo-prophets, with their distorted nuances ranting about renewal and liberation, are attempting to discredit the ascetic and penitential way of life, as though asceticism were not an evangelical sign, but the despised remnant of a naïve and misled monastic spirituality unworthy of esteem. Self sacrifice? Self denial? Self renunciation? How absurd! Neither the clergy nor the laity want any of this. Anti-asceticism is the order of the day.
But for whom did Jesus say, If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross? (Mt. 16:24) Certainly this is not for those who never mention Him except to speak about self-determination, self-fulfillment, self-advancement . . .

Thus many things explain themselves. How could a person like this accept the message of June 18th that insistently requests things that they themselves are trying at all costs to renounce?
—You should sacrifice yourself more.

—Think of the Passion of Jesus.
The Passion of Jesus! They are not interested in this. They are only interested in talking of things more to the liking of the man of today.
For them the only things that matter are actions and words favorable to their self-expression and lifestyle, which is far removed from, He made Himself obedient to death, the death of the cross!(11)

11. How much some would like to efface one of the principaldeclarations of the Gospel: Enter by the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter that way. How small the gate and narrow the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it. (Matt. 7:13-14)

Conchita told Fr. Rodrigo (saying Mass)
about “bishops and cardinals.”
The Denunciation

—My message of October 18th has not been fulfilled.
—The cup . . . is overflowing.

—The PRIESTS: Many are on the road to perdition.
—The EUCHARIST: It is being given less and less importance.
The first message of October 18th, 1961 had passed for the majority, for the vast majority, without concern or glory; that was more than obvious. Even the staunchest enthusiasts of Garabandal were disposed for seeing and experiencing more novel things, especially if they were exciting, than for carrying into practice, the admonition to make many sacrifices, do much penance . . . visit the Blessed Sacrament . . .
But the cup was overflowing because of other things too.(4) The unbridled sins of men and nations —especially sins of the flesh— are so plainly patent to everyone that they need no illustrations or examples.
Almost the same could be said about the denunciation that many priests are «on the road to perdition», taking many souls with them. The facts are there, beyond discussion. Many have faithlessly abandoned their vows and vocations; others, it would have been better if they had abandoned them, for then they would have caused less harm to the faithful by their unorthodox doctrines concerning dogma, and their immoral opinions concerning moral law.(5)
Here is one of the greatest disasters that could fall upon the Church. Jesus had warned about it, You are the salt of the earth; if the salt loses its flavor, what can it be salted with? It serves for nothing but to be cast on the ground, to be trampled on by men. (Matt. 5:13)
But the gravest thing is that the matter is not confined entirely to priests.(6)
During the transmission of the message, Conchita was definitely heard speaking about bishops too . . . and even cardinals! The testimonies cannot be denied. Fr. Luna was asked about his impression when —near to Conchita in ecsasty— he clearly heard her say with tremendous astonishment: «Bishops! Bishops too? . . .»(7) Several other persons testified to the same. And under my gaze, I have a letter from the old professor of moral law at the Pontifical University in Comillas, Fr. Lucio Rodrigo, S.J.,(8) written to Fr. Ramón, dated November 13th,1965. He says in it:
«On Thursday, fifteen days ago, the pastor from Barro brought Aniceta and Conchita to me, to whom I gave communion in the infirmary chapel. We spoke for a long time together, and afterwards I spoke alone with Conchita. She confirmed to me categorically that in the June 18th message, the Angel explicitly mentioned bishops and cardinals. But influenced by truly supernatural and inspired prudence, she was silent about them (in her text of the message) since ‘they were included with the priests.’»(9)


Those who have studied the church and know its history will be immunized against a gasp of amazement such as Conchita had on the night of the ecstasy. They will know that bishops are the keystones in the structure of the Church; but they will also know, that besides innumerable good shepherds who fulfill their duties to God and their people, there are also hirelings, who frequently are responsible for the worst tribulations that can afflict the flock of Christ.
At Rome on December 5th, 1971, Paul VI made public an apostolic exhortation to all the bishops, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the closing of Vatican II. The pope employed a forceful and demanding tone, rather unaccustomed to him, that showed his concern that not all the bishops were fulfilling their duty:
Many of the faithful feel themselves disturbed in their faith by an accumulation of ambiguities, uncertainties, and doubts in essential matters . . . While little by little silence is covering the fundamental mysteries of Christianity, we see a tendency to construct a Christianity derived from psychological and sociological data, a Christianity separated from the uninterrupted tradition that goes back to the faith of the apostles. And we see a tendency to exalt a Christian life deprived of religious elements . . . And from our own selves, just as in the days of St. Paul, shall rise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:30)
The successor of St. Peter was speaking at the time to bishops.
Closely linked with bishops and priests is the magnificent mystery of the Eucharist. What is the situation in Its regard? The message makes it clear: there is a progressive veiling, a growing lessening of Its importance. The results of this can be predicted. If the Eucharist is the mystery of the close presence of Jesus among us, the more Its existence is obscured and clouded, the less importance It will have in our lives. And so we will be drawn farther away from Him, farther away from His love, and closer to darkness.
That this was already happening in broad sectors of the Church, and was tending to spread through the entire Church, Conchita could not have known through natural means on that June 18th. The crisis of doctrine concerning the worship of the Mysterium Fidei that had broken out in other lands was still far from being felt in Spanish Christianity; and certainly not in those surroundings that the young girl knew.(10)
Months later appeared the first solemn and official call to attention: the encyclical of Paul VI, given in Rome, from St. Peter’s, on the feastday of Pope Pius X, September 3rd, 1965, in the third year of our pontificate. In his encyclical, Mysterium Fidei, the Pope stated the reasons that led him to publish it:
There are not lacking, venerable brothers, reasons for grave solicitude and anxiety. The awareness of our apostolic duty does not permit us to be silent . . . We know that among the persons who speak or write on this very holy mystery, there are those who spread opinions about the subject of private Masses, the dogma of transubstantiation and of Eucharistic devotion that trouble the souls of the faithful. They cause a great confusion of ideas, touching the truths of the faith.
The encyclical did not succeed in correcting the evil. Amost three years later, on May 8th, 1968, the same Paul VI saw himself obliged to explain his proposal to assist at the International Eucharistic Congress which was going to be celebrated in Bogotá, Colombia in August:
It is not the external solemnity that draws us here, although it has its highest value . . . It is the affirmation of the Eucharistic Mystery that draws us; an affirmation that wishes to consolidate strongly and express in an unequivocal form the faith of all the Catholic Church . . . An actual confirmation of the Eucharistic doctrine in the face of the ineptitude, the ambiguity, and the errors from which a part of our generation suffer with regard to the Mystery of our altars.
What was almost unforeseeable in Garabandal in 1965 is now visible to all: the disrespect—if not outright disdain—that many priests hold for the forms of devotion that Catholic piety has built around the Eucharist through the centuries. Now comes the placing of the sanctuaries and tabernacles at the side of the churches; the arrangement of churches more as a center of reunion than as a place to meet with the Lord Jesus present among us; the tearing down of the altar rails; the Communions made carelessly and without thanksgiving; the progressive elimination of Benediction, Nocturnal Adoration, Forty Hours Devotions, and processions of the Blessed Sacrament.
As an illustration of this, in 1968 I was waiting at a train station, speaking with a man who had begun his theological studies in a diocesan seminary. We had a friendly conversation and among the things that I heard in the conversation, this stuck especially in my mind: The other day several seminarians were talking about what each wanted to do in his church as soon as he was in charge of a parish. One of them, after saying what he thought about statues, the arrangement of altars, the placement of pulpits, etc., ended like this, “I haven’t decided yet what to do with the tabernacle . . . Although perhaps, when my time comes, that won’t be a problem, since it will have disappeared.” The seminarian was certainly speaking ironically, but this illustrates the truth of the statement: The Eucharist: It is being given less and less importance.
4. According to traditional symbolism, the cup represents the tolerable level of our sins. If the cup overflows, it shows that level has been surpassed.
5. I am not talking about all priests, or even the majority. Those who remain faithful deserve only praise; they do not make as much noise as the others, but they get the work done.
6. Complementing what was said about the bad state of the priesthood, it would be well to place here what Conchita wrote on July 29th, 1967 to a young French priest who asked her what the Virgin wanted from priests:
«The first thing that the Virgin wants from a priest is his own sanctification.
Fulfilling his vows for the love of God.
Leading many souls by example and prayer, for in these times it is difficult to do it any other way.
That the priest be sacrificed out of love for souls in Christ!
That at times he retire in silence to hear the God who speaks to him constantly.
That he meditate frequently on the passion of Jesus, so that his life may be more united to Christ the Priest, and thus invite souls to penance, sacrifice . . .
To speak of Mary, who is the most secure way to lead us to Christ.
And also to speak about and make people believe that if there is a heaven, there is also a hell.
I think that this is what God asks from His priests.»

7. For a young girl from the mountains, as Conchita was atthat time, it was almost inconceivable for even a priest to be bad— much less a bishop! For the inhabitants of the primitive villages, the faraway Reverend Bishop had the halo of unquestionable sanctity, far above common human frailty.
8. This saintly priest was obliged by his superiors to keep silent about Garabandal. When insistently asked, he was not reticent in revealing in private his opinion completely favorable to the events considered as a whole.

9. It is undeniable that the Angel said in his message that «Many priests, many bishops and many cardinals are on the road to perdition.» If later it was not put literally like this in the written text, it was due to Conchita believing it more prudent, given the circumstances, to ease the impact of that tremendous denunciation . . . For in considering everything, «they were included with the priests.»
10. During the days on which the message was proclaimed from the heights of Garabandal, I arrived at a region in France where I immediately discovered things that I would not have suspected from Spain . . .
In Paris several months later, the message given in the apparitions at the village of Garabandal in Spain came into my hands. I was then surprised by the clearness with which it seriously pointed out the four most dangerous things that were revolutionizing the Catholic Church:
* The crisis of the priesthood
* The doctrinal and liturgical deviations concerning the Eucharist.

* The progressive loss of every notion of penitential and ascetic life.

* The setting aside of everything that required personal patience, submission, sacrifice, and humiliation for Christ.
At the time, these things could hardly have occurred to a child in Spain; and much less, to one who had no more perspective than that of a little village lost in the Cantabrian Mountains.

The message.
Brief in Words, Extended in Content


“You Are in the
Last Warnings”

The morning of Saturday, June 19th, came quickly. But the streets of the village were slow in showing activity. The waiting and the fatigue of the previous day had worn everyone out.

As the morning slipped passed, a crowd of expectant people grew around Conchita’s house, hoping to finally learn the message.

The young girl appeared rejuvenated. It was said that the ecstasy of the previous night had brought back all her energy and vitality. Indefatigable and patient, she attended to everyone to the best of her ability. Some wanted to say good bye to her; others, for her to write on photographs and cards, or to kiss some holy article . . . the majority were coming with questions about the message.

But they still had to hold back their impatience.

There were Masses in the parish church. Conchita went to one of them, still fasting. On her way to and from church, she was besieged by questions.

Finally, at noon, prior to the departure of a busload of people to France, the desired proclamation was made at the door of Conchita’s house.

A priest read in a loud voice what Conchita had given him in her own handwriting, even with minor spelling errors and erasures.

The priest was Fr. Luis Luna from Saragossa. He has declared on repeated occasions:

«Conchita gave me the message in writing, and I read it in a loud voice in front of the doorway of her house; I kept it after that as a precious relic.»


It was first read in the original Spanish text, then in French. Another priest continued with an English translation; and apparently it was said after that in Italian too, so that the proclamation of the message left nothing to be desired.

On June 19, 1965 this was read at Garabandal:(1)

The message that the Most Holy Virgin has given to the world through the
intercession of St. Michael.

The Angel said:

* As my message of October 18 has not been fulfilled, and has not been made known to the world, I tell you that this is the last.

* Before, the cup was filling up; now it is overflowing.

* The PRIESTS: Many are on the road to perdition, and with them they are taking many more souls.

* The EUCHARIST: It is being given less and less importance.

* With your own efforts, you should avoid(2) the wrath of the Good God.

* If you ask pardon with a sincere heart, He will forgive you.

* I, your Mother, through the intercession(3) of the Archangel St. Michael, want to tell you to amend your lives.

* You are in the last warnings!

* I love you very much, and do not want your condemnation.

* Ask us sincerely, and We will give you what you ask.
* You should sacrifice yourself more.

*Think of the passion of Jesus.

With this text before us, something should be said about its delivery and much more about its content.

In its delivery, it is not easy to separate the words that the Angel actually said from those that belong to Conchita’s own vocabulary, which she used in communicating what she learned in the trance. Furthermore, although St. Michael gave the message, he was speaking in the name of the Most Holy Virgin. So words that he personally used (although by delegation) are merged with those that were simple repetitions of the Virgin’s words. Her direct speech is especially clear in the last part of the message: «I, your Mother . . .»
Obviously, Conchita put in writing only the most important part of what she heard in the ecstasy at the Calleja. Almost 15 minutes of conversation could not be covered in half a page of written manuscript. Furthermore, some of the words that were heard during the ecstasy referred to other things than those that appeared in the message.

But looking at the content, which is what is really important, there are three elements that cannot be separated, but are easily distinguished:

* A denunciation of the terrible moral situation in the world.

* A warning of what was being prepared because of this situation.

* An exhortation to correct the situation before it becomes too late.

1. Conchita’s text is given accurately, but not as she wrote it (one statement after another, without proper separation or punctuation).

2. Almost all the copies that I have seen of the message, even Conchita’s manuscripts, give this matter in the first person plural: We should avoid . . . This certainly is due to an assimilation on Conchita’s part of the Angel’s words, and should rather say: You should avoid . . .

In the first writing of the message, as it appears on the photocopy, she corrected the our efforts, putting in your efforts. An unconscious echo of what she had heard came out.

3. As on other occasions, Conchita confuses intercession with mediation. Obviously, the proper thing to say here would be by means of the Angel St. Michael.


“Tears run down her cheeks.”

Tryst with an Angel

At the Cuadro, order had been restored in the crowd.

«Almost everyone was praying in a loud voice, in two choruses, the French and the Spanish alternating. What an extraordinary night! There was an unprecedented luminosity with innumerable stars shining as never before. Without a moon, at least for the spectators . . .(20)
Suddenly everybody lifted up their heads. From the northwest, a new star shot up, brighter than the others. It traced a great circle and returned to its starting point.

Two minutes later, another star, splendid but smaller than the first, appeared straight above Conchita’s house, advanced slowly in the sky and suddenly disappeared above the Pines.(21)

Everyone was talking with the person next to him about these extraordinary phenomena, when at the foot of the road, by the light of the starry night and the flashlights, Conchita appeared, protected by a squadron of police guards.(22) The young girl was walking so fast that her guards were out of breath.» (L’Etoile dans la Montagne)(23)


The press reporter Poch Soler saw the scene like this:

«At a quarter to midnight, Conchita, followed by some priests and seven police guards, went up to the Calleja in a completely normal state. She advanced with her gaze fixed. The flashes from the photographers began to shine on her. A police guard asked her,
—Is it here, Conchita?
—No, Señor, a little higher up.
On coming to the designated spot, the girl plummeted to her knees on the sharp stones of the road. The ecstasy had begun.

The moment is exciting. Conchita’s eyes are fixed on the sky. She laughs and pronounces some words in a very low voice . . . But immediately she completely changes her expression and tears run down her cheeks.

The photographers and television cameramen are shooting their cameras, and their beams of light shine right into her eyes— wide open— but she doesn’t blink or make the least motion. The ecstasy is absolute.»(24)

The witnesses of the L’Etoile dans la Montagne tell of it:

«The ecstasy was similar to those that we had previously observed in the village, in the seer’s kitchen or her room. There were signs of the cross made with an indescribable piety and majesty, a face resplendent with an interior light, an angelic smile and moments of solemn seriousness, whispering with lips open and the silence of a soul that listens, a tear that glistens on the temple and leaves a trail of crystal.»


On his part, the reporter of Le Monde et la Vie wrote:

«Conchita was there in front of my eyes, in the center of a circle of flashlights and camera lights focused on her. Her head, which I could see well during almost all the ecstasy, stayed motionless, thrown backwards in the way that so many photographs show. Her face appeared to gleam, extremely beautiful and transparent, arousing everyone’s admiration.»


Fr. Luna’s testimony is exceptionally valuable :

«I finally found myself on the hill, a little more than two meters from Conchita, who was already in ecstasy and whom I could see and hear perfectly. I was impressed by the more than human beauty of her face, speaking without blinking, under torrents of light projected on her from the cameramen and flashlights.
I was overwhelmed on seeing her cry, as up until then, I had never seen this. From her eyes poured out tears that joined in a stream, filling the concavity of her left ear (the only one visible to me at the time), falling on the ground like water from a loose faucet . . .
I heard her speak with a voice that was gasping and breathless: No! . . . No! . . . Still no! . . . Pardon, pardon! Later I saw her lift herself up some 70 centimeters with her right hand raised and unsupported, to again fall to her knees on the ground with a chilling crunch.

Later she said, as if repeating it and asking a question, Priests? . . . Bishops? . . . July 2nd?(25)

I saw her cross herself with a majestic slowness. . . And suddenly she put her two hands to her face, trying to protect her eyes from the bright lights. The ecstasy was over.»


There is one missing element in Fr. Luna’s report, which the French reporters give us:

«Conchita had remained immobile some 12 or 13 minutes, in conversation with her mysterious interlocutor. Suddenly, still in ecstasy, she got to her feet, in her right hand holding up a crucifix (that she later said had been touched at the time by the Angel). She fell again on her knees and brought the crucifix to her lips with an extraordinary expression of love. It was at this moment, according to what her mother told me, that one of the police guards, with a changed expression on his face, made the sign of the cross solemnly, as if to say, I believe.
Then Conchita, without paying the least attention to what was happening around her, without changing in the slightest the immobility of her face or the fixedness of her glance, presented the crucifix to be kissed by three persons from France: an old priest at her side, a father of a family who had lived in Spain for some time, and a religion teacher from Leon.(26)

After making the sign of the cross with an extraordinary carefulness, she lowered her head, and smiling, without any sign of fatigue, got up.

With difficulty, the six police guards managed to protect her from the crowd . . .»

(Le Monde et la Vie)

The guards’ task was difficult. Everyone wanted to see Conchita up close, to touch her if possible, to ask her questions . . . especially when it was heard that she had received a message.

Mr. Aniano Fontaneda, in the letter previously quoted, wrote to Fr. Ramón:

«The crucifix that she gave to kiss in the ecstasy belonged to me. I had left it when I went out of her house on the way to the Cuadro . . . On returning, she was holding up this crucifix for everyone to kiss at the door of her house. She continued until they finished kissing it, then she gave it back to me, and everyone came to ask me for it, since they wanted to kiss it. When I left Conchita’s house, I passed Ceferino’s tavern with the people from Cataluña, Argentina and Madrid. At every step I had to take out the crucifix, until a lady from Segovia named Fuencisla Fernández- Pacheco took charge of doing it.»


Among the few people who succeeded in getting into Conchita’s house after the ecstasy, was the correspondent from Le Monde et la Vie. All that he could pry from the visionary about the message that she had received was the vague statement: «It was very sorrowful.»

But to find out its exact words, he would have to wait until the following morning.

But not everyone could wait. Such was the case with Mr. Fontaneda:

«Conchita was going to give the Angel’s message on the following day—Saturday—in the morning after Communion. But I couldn’t wait. We left from there at 2 in the morning, without having eaten, with only two Coca-Colas that they had given me at Ceferino’s place.»


During the hours of the night, the village was almost completely tranquil and silent. The need for rest and sleep had overtaken everyone. And finally all that remained were the stars in the distant firmament above, as sentinels to continue the watch.

What mysterious designs were being planned for the world?

In those designs, what would come from that June 18th in Garabandal that was just ending?

Would it leave its mark?
Or would it fall into oblivion?

20. A correspondent from Le Monde et la Vie had the same observation: «From 9 o’clock in the evening a magnificent starry sky covered the heavens.»

21. Juan Alvarez Seco, the Police Chief, also gave his testimony about the two stars that were seen on that night in Garabandal «while I was waiting for Conchita between 11:30 and 11:45 on that June 18th.»

The first star «was seen shining brightly, very brilliant and a golden color; it went from the ground upwards . . . The other, of lesser brightness, moved more horizontally.»

22. The reporter from Le Monde et la Vie spoke of six guards; the one from Por Qué? mentions seven.

23. The correspondent from Le Monde et la Vie also called attention to the rapid pace with which the girl was walking.

24. There is a good documentary motion picture of this complete ecstasy in the archives of NO-DO in Madrid.

25. There were only a few words that could be clearly heard from Conchita during the ecstasy; some people reported some, others reported others; but almost all agreed on these: «Pardon! Pardon! . . . Still no, still no . . . July 2nd? . . .»

Finally the door opened inch by inch, and in the doorway stood the young girl, pale, heavily bundled up, but with her best smile for everyone. For hours . . .
« . . . she let herself be devoured by the crowd. She smiled, she wrote cards, she allowed herself to be photographed, she responded to the questions thrown at her, she promised to pray for the most diverse intentions, she tried to console the most afflicted, she embraced the children.» (L’Etoile dans la Montagne)


Mr. Poch Soler continued:
«At 2 o’clock in the afternoon of June 18th, we managed to speak with Conchita. I confess that this was the most moving moment of my career as a journalist. Never has a person filled me with such respect and confidence at the same time . . .
The interview took place in the kitchen of her home. Present were her mother and her two brothers, two strong men of the north who protected the place. She held out her hand and apologized for making me wait to get the interview.
—Are you happy? I asked.

—Very happy, Señor. I feel a great joy.


—Because today I will see the Angel and that is marvelous.

—Have you noticed the number of people who have come to Garabandal?
—I haven’t stopped thinking of them!

—And how do you feel about this enormous crowd?

— My joy is difficult to put into words . . . How happy Our Lady will be! . . . . .

—Are you sure you will see the Angel today?

—Very sure.

—At what time?

—I cannot say, since I don’t know. I don’t know the hour, but I have a feeling that it will be rather late. . . . . .
—What do you feel when the Virgin appears to you?

—A strong constriction that comes up from my chest to my throat . . . And then there is a marvelous light.
—What do you think the Angel will say?

—I surely don’t know. Possibly there will be a message. But I don’t know; we will see.
When I went out on the street, the people closed in around me. Everyone wanted to know what Conchita had told me. French, Americans, Portuguese, they all begged me to please give them an answer. It was hard to convince them that it had been a normal interview, that the visionary hadn’t told me anything about the time or the place of the ecstasy.
After 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the concentration of pilgrims around Conchita’s house was imposing . . . The troops of the Civil Guard of the 242nd Command were in charge of maintaining order, although it wasn’t ever necessary for them to intervene with force.
The French groups and the people from the other nations gave a lesson in faith, devotion, and seriousness, that we would have appreciated in our own Spanish people.(15) At all times the initiative for prayers and petitions arose from them . . .
The climate at times was almost hysterical. Some physically covered Conchita with medals, scapulars and holy cards, hoping that she would touch them and kiss them. Others made their way toward her to ask for her autograph, to take her photograph. A woman raised a paralytic son in her arms, imploring Conchita to kiss him.»


Among the priests who had come to Garabandal, certainly the one who aroused the most interest was Father Pel . . . «the famous stigmatic, called the French Padre Pio,(16) known through all of France for his sanctity and miraculous gifts. Even though 87 years of age, he was circulating around and talking with great agility.»

But the one who showed himself the most active, and who seemed to have the best welcome in Conchita’s house, was the Spanish Fr. Luis Luna, who had come from Saragossa. He was privileged to be near the visionary for many hours that day.
Continuing now with the article of Poch Soler:
«The evening advanced, without Conchita announcing the time of the apparition. It became darker. But how sure it is that faith moves mountains! No one gave up or abandoned his post . . .(17) 8o’clock came, then 9, then 10 at night . . . They were praying without ceasing; supplications and hymns in every language rose up to heaven . . .
. . . until a trembling of emotion seized everyone: At the door of the house a priest(18) came out, and calling for silence, spoke to the crowd.
This is from Conchita: Everyone should go to the Calleja, to what is called the Cuadro, since the ecstasy will be there.»


The frenzy stirred up by these words could not be described . . . Everyone ran crazily to see if he could get the best place for observation.
Aniano Fontaneda wrote in his letter to Father Ramón:
«Everybody wanted to be the first to get there; they almost ripped my clothes off as they shoved me on all sides. Many were knocked to the ground. I lifted up Mercedes Salisachs(19) and other people who stumbled and fell going up the hill.»


Fr. Luna also described it:
«After having been together with Conchita for several hours—in order to benefit from her company when the expected ecstasy came—at the time of going up to the Cuadro, I found myself bowled over by the rush of the crowd, which carried me along in the turmoil and finally knocked me to the ground. With my back on the ground, the people passed on top of me as they ran upwards. While I was there, in the darkness of the night, two people assisted me, one on each side, and without the least effort on my part, in spite of the weight of my 80 kilos, I found myself on foot. Later I was able to guide myself on the left wall of the Calleja, where the stones are stacked without mortar.»


The dispersal of the crowd left Conchita’s house surrounded by an unusual silence. Only three or four persons still remained there at the window of the kitchen, desiring to exchange words with the young girl inside.
—What are we going to do now, Conchita?

—Go to the Cuadro, like the rest.

15. L’Etoile dans la Montagne states:
«Toward nightfall gangs of Spanish boys and girls appeared whose flippancy showed that the devil wanted to be present at the spectacle too.»
16. Referring to the Italian Capuchin Padre Pio from Pietrelcina, famous the world over for his extraordinary apostolate and mystical charisms.
Fr. Constant Pel died on March 5th, 1966, convinced about Garabandal. (The reporter errs in calling him a stigmatic.)
17. Conchita stayed at the door of her home, giving herself to the multitude.
. . «until night fell, and we didn’t know if she had time to eat anything more than a crust of bread. Shivering, she went back into the house; but in order not to let anyone down, she opened her kitchen window and across the iron gate continued to give herself to the crowd.» (L’Etoile dans la Montagne)

18. This seems to have been Father Luna from Saragossa.

19. The illustrious writer from Barcelona. Any sensible person will understand the frenzy with which the throng rushed to seize good positions. This is not meant to commend it; only to make the situation understood. The reporter Poch Soler showed he sympathized with the crowd in his article:

«The spectacle was not only striking; it instilled fear . . . A woman was dragging her five year old son between her legs; the little boy was crying, but the mother could not give him any attention because she had to find a good position at all costs. A blind American got up on top of the wall, helped by his friends. A man with two bad legs asked me to give him a hand so that he would be able to climb the rocky path. The human drama that brought all these persons to the Cuadro overwhelmed us all. Those people had their life conditioned by suffering and their admirable resignation was the greatest miracle of that night at Garabandal.»

Pilgrims waiting for the apparition
The Gathering Crowd

Throughout June 17th, pilgrims were arriving.

The same was happening during Friday the 18th, well into the evening. Persons from foreign countries were numerous. The L’Etoile dans la Montagne mentions: «200 Frenchmen, 10 Americans, 6 Englishmen, 4 Italians, and an occasional representative of the other countries of Europe and America.»
There must have been many priests, but there were only a dozen visible in cassocks.
Vehicles with the most varied license plates inundated the village and its surroundings. Attention was especially drawn, and not only because of their size, to the vehicles of the technical crews for Spanish NO-DO,(11) and Televisíon Italiana. In the latter group, the famous actor Carlo Campanini was particularly active.
What was the attitude of the crowd? Fr. Laffineur tells us in L’Etoile dans la Montagne as a witness of the scene:
«In general, it was exemplary. Pious, modest, penitent. Almost all those who composed it had received Communion at one of the three Masses(12) during the morning . . .
Occasionally there could be found a face that was there only to spy on the events and activities, to gather information to utilize in favor of a cause that he represented or served . . . the emissaries from the Commission of Santander, obviously; members of some foreign agencies also, and even someone representing the ridiculous expriest Collin.»(13)

How did the crowd pass the interminable hours of waiting? Certainly with less difficulties and hardships than the congregation that waited on October 18th, 1961. This time there was not such a great gathering and the weather was much better. But opportunities were not lacking to exercise patience, and practice penance. Mr. Poch Soler, the reporter sent by the Barcelonian weekly, Por que?, wrote an interesting article:(14)
«From Cossío we made the trip on foot, 7 kilometers, always heading upwards, arriving at Garabandal after 2 in the morning of June 18th. Unplanned and spectacular! The monumental task of sheltering hundreds of pilgrims in a small town of no more than 40 houses had already ceased when we arrived. The people were sleeping in the doorways, in the stables, on the porches, in the kitchens, in the middle of the streets . . . In our nocturnal walk through the uneven and rocky streets, we had to step with the greatest attention, avoiding the many people who were sleeping, stretched out on the ground, under the feeble illumination of a dozen light bulbs scattered throughout the village.
One of the two bars or taverns in Garabandal remained open all night, although its small capacity could barely shelter 12 or 15 people. There we settled ourselves down to write. To our one side two English people were sleeping peacefully, slumped over the table on their elbows. On the ground, two French priests were praying the rosary in a hushed voice. Others were drinking beer and later went outside to walk in the streets beneath the clear moon illuminating that night in Garabandal.»
The French correspondent from Le Monde et La Vie agreed with this, and said further that well into the night, in scattered sectors of the village, there rose up prayers and devout hymns in Spanish, Latin, and French . . .
As day dawned, the influx of people increased, creating a boisterous commotion in the streets. The French reporter describes it:
«The morning passed rather well. Everyone was using the time the best that he could. They were praying, singing, taking photographs, speaking with the villagers, asking a multitude of questions about the girls and their ecstasies.»
Conchita’s house naturally was the principal magnet of attraction. Only she was going to be the protagonist of what everyone was awaiting. Only she could name the time and the place. The youthful 16 year old girl was slow in appearing to the crowd because her mother rightly did not let her get up until well into the morning. The reporters were the ones most importune in their desire to see her. Poch Soler wrote in his article:
«Conchita inspired all the press reporters with profound respect. My colleagues from Paris, Portugal, Madrid, the crew from NO-DO were waiting impatiently, but without irritation, for the time when they would be able to speak to her.
You have to have a little patience, her mother told us. Understand that the girl is tired. Yesterday she was sick with a 40 degree temperature. She wants to talk with everyone, embrace everyone. I am the one who doesn’t want her to go outside on the street.»


11. NO-DO (Noticiario-Documental) was the governmentalagency of news pictures. Its importance has diminished with the development of television. The presence of NO-DO at Garabandal was due to the activities of a young woman from Segovia, Paloma Fernández-Pacheco de Larrauri. This woman, who already knew the village well, was there again for June 18th with her sister Fuencisia.
12. Aniano Fontaneda from Aguilar de Campoo wrote on June 26th to Fr. Ramón:
«I was at Garabandal on the 17th and 18th and I saw your friends and a great number of acquaintances. You missed a great day since everything turned out magnificently. Although Fr. Valentín told me that there would be no Masses in the village unless the priests came with written permission to celebrate Mass, we actually had several Masses, with more than 1,500 Communions. I can say no more than that the Hosts were exhausted on two occasions.»
13. We have already spoken about him during his visit to Garabandal on August 22nd, 1963.
14. This article was not published in the weekly paper until April, 1966. Its introduction went like this:
«In writing about this, we have tried at all times to avoid the frivolousness and journalistic lightness that at times we are accustomed to use for other subjects of the street. We have limited ourselves to reporting the facts as we have seen them, transcribing everything that we have heard and all this with the greatest objectivity possible.»

Ceferino, the father of Loli

Conchita, on the other hand, showed herself more certain than ever. On May 23rd, the Sunday before the Ascension, Mr. Ruiloba once again was walking through Garabandal. He met Fr. Valentín, who was very worried about some plans attributed to Pajares and Tobalina, and from the priest he learned that Conchita was continuing to repeat that the Angel would definitely return on the date announced: June 18th.
—But are you really sure?—that pastor had said to her— That it is not a lie or something that you imagined?
—Do you think that the Virgin would lie?

—No. Of course not.

—Well, the Virgin told it to me.

Mr. Ruiloba was constantly wavering between belief and disbelief. Every street, almost every corner of the village, had to bring back memories to him of things experienced very personally;(7) nevertheless, the man could not overcome his vacillation. And on the night of May 25th, Tuesday, being with Ceferino in the latter’s house, he began again to bring out the negative things that he thought he had seen in the apparitions and in the girls. Ceferino, who in this matter was never far behind, broadly seconded him. And the two were talking in such a way that there came a time when Julia(8) could not endure it anymore and interrupted the conversation to remind them of some things of a very different character, which neither of the two could deny. Her husband had no other solution than to assent, and even on his own part added some marvelous signs that he himself had received; but as if he were ashamed of them, he made Plácido swear never to tell them to anyone.

As with so many others in the village, it seemed that Ceferino took a strange pleasure in destroying hopes. On June 6th, Pentecost Sunday, when again Ruiloba and his wife came to his house, Ceferino received them with these words, My friend Plácido, everything is finished. This is nothing but a farce . . . And what Conchita is going around predicting . . . pure lies. I have already pointed it out, as I have always done. I went once again to talk about it to the bishop . . . If the people come here on June 18th, let them. I am going to play billiards.
His daughter Loli, who was present there, joined in the conversation, with words and attitudes that were almost as ridiculous as those of her father.(9)
And up in those remote mountains, that is the way things were going during those last weeks before the great date.
Conchita had remained alone as the center of everything. And as a result, she was the occasion and the cause of the jealousies that surfaced in some, of the distrust that tormented others, and of the expectation of many others.
And Conchita, on June 13th—the Sunday before the date so awaited and feared—caught cold . . . Right at the wrong time. She awoke on June 14th with a bad case of flu that elevated her temperature to 39 degrees. For three days she was confined to bed with chills and fever.
June 17th, Thursday, was the great feast of Corpus Christi, and Garabandal, like so many other ancient towns in Spain, put its best piety and enthusiasm into celebrating the feast.(10) But Conchita could not follow the celebration more than from afar, from her bed of sickness. As the procession passed around her house, she could hear clearly the songs of the crowd accompanying Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, Most High Lord . . . Let us sing to the greatest of all loves . . . God is here, let us adore Him . . . Heaven and earth, bless the Lord . . .
In the street next to the house, her mother Aniceta had constructed a small arch of triumph made from branches adorned with flowers; she had also draped a banner on it with the colors of the national flag and an inscription that read, Long Live Christ the King! What more could the simple woman do? It was a deeply felt homage that she offered to Our Lord in her own name and that of her children, especially for the daughter who could only accompany the procession in spirit.
The sudden illness of Conchita was the object of the most varied comments. A good way of preparing an “out” if on Friday nothing happens! said some. The things of God in this world never come without some tribulation, said others. Those who still hoped could do no more than ask with a greater or lesser degree of concern, Will she be on her feet for the call of the Angel?
The situation did not look good, since, although the illness had improved much during the day of Corpus Christi, the doctor had prescribed that she remain in bed, or at least not leave the house, for the next six days.

7. This same Plácido mentioned one day to Doctor Ortizthat at the beginning of the apparitions, after an ecstasy, one of the girls spoke of the state of his conscience as though she were reading it. And his wife, Lucita, added that from that time on her husband had changed very much.
8. Ceferino’s wife and Loli’s mother.

9. Ceferino’s doubts, or his changing from belief to disbelief in what had happened, remained to the end. But finally in his last days he seemed to receive a clear light, which must have comforted him in passing away.
He died on June 4th, 1974 at 56 years of age, about to complete the 13th year from the beginning of those phenomena in which he has been so closely entwined. Two days before his death on June 2nd, a group of pilgrims came to Garabandal with an image of the Virgin of Fatima. They were singing the Salve and other songs in the plaza, and Julia opened the doors and windows of the house so the prayers and songs could come in better to the room of her dying husband, at times almost unconscious; then she leaned against the window weeping and praying . . .

When the songs ended, she asked one of the youths from the group to give her a flower from those decorating the image. She went to place the flower on the crucifix that hung over the head of the dying man. Ceferino then came out of his lethargy and began to look from side to side as if he were searching for something, while he said, The sign! The sign! Julia brought the crucifix with the flower. He took both with great devotion and remained with the flower in his hand, full of peace and joy, as if the flower had been for him the proof that finally was given to him on this matter that had worried him so profoundly . . . Julia, for whom the early death of her husband was a hard blow, now believes in the apparitions more than ever.
10. They thoroughly swept, cleaned and decorated the streets for the procession of the Blessed Sacrament that would be carried through them. The people of the village assisted en masse at this procession, the most solemn of the year; those who were not able to participate in it knelt at their doors, windows and balconies for the passage of the Lord.