“Tears run down her cheeks.”
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? . . .»