HOW OUR LADY PROTECTED HER SECRET
By Joseph A. Pelletier, A.A.
The charming and amazing incident which I will relate here is told by Fr. Eusebio Garcia de Pasquera in SE FUE CON PRISAS A LA MONTANA (Volume I, pp 192-194). It happened in the very early days of the apparitions, at the end of July, 1961. The incident involved here has to do with a “secret” revealed by Our Lady. The background information needed to situate and appreciate the incident can be found in LAS APARCIONES NO SON UN MITO, by Francisco Sanchez-Ventura y Pascual._ I will also provide a little background here.
The event had just begun to evolve into an important new phase, that of more than one apparition on the same day. The first day of multiple apparitions was Wednesday, July 26, the day before Conchita went to Santandar for questioning by the diocesan authorities. There were two appearances on that day. The first was in the morning , at which time Our Lady announced that there would be another in the evening, a little earlier than usual (it occurred at about 8 o’clock). Up until this time, the visions had occurred at nightfall, at about 8:30. The fact of a morning apparition was quite an innovation, soon, visions would be taking place at all hours of the day and night.
During the evening apparition, the first ecstatic oscillation, or swaying of the body, occurred. This was the precursor of the fantastic ecstatic fall that would manifest itself within about a week and would be followed in a few days by a very frequent appearance of the extraordinary ecstatic walk._
So, the apparitions were beginning to reach an new peak and lead into a period when God would give an abundance of external signs designed to convince the onlookers that something was happening that was beyond the natural powers of the girls.
On July 29 the number of apparitions increased to four, and these apparently all took place during the afternoon. It was almost like one continuous apparition, as there were only relatively short intervals between them and one minor change in location.
Our Lady Gives Specific Instructions for Onlookers
The first apparition took place in the calleja, or sunken lane, the spot where the very first apparition had taken place and where they all continued to occur for the first month or so. When this apparition was over, the girls informed the onlookers that the Blessed Virgin wanted them to go to the pines, which were just beyond the end of the sunken lane. They said she had given specific instructions on how the people were to position themselves there. Two girls, Sari and Mari Carmen, about six years old, were to be witnesses ad stand close to the seers. The others were to remain at a distance where they could see but not hear. The girls’ parents, the priests, among whom were Don Valentin Marichalar, the past of the village, the nuns and the two policemen could come somewhat closer than the remainder of the people. When they reached the pines, the girls pointed out where the various categories of people were to stay. A suggestion was made, apparently after the start of the second apparition, that an older girl of about 12 take the place of one of the six year olds, but Our Lady did not agree to the substitution.
Sanchez-Ventura, from whom we have borrowed the above facts, says that the selection of child-witnesses by the Blessed Virgin had happened occasionally before- en alguna otra occasion. He also says: “During the apparitions (the ones with the child witnesses), Our Lady completed the message and revealed the secret to them- y les revelo el secreto.”
In the course of this apparition the visionaries’ faces became very sad, and the mother of one of them exclaimed: “They are crying!” It was not long before Don Valentin called Mari Carmen over and inquired what the visionaries were talking about. She replied that they were asking the Blessed Virgin not to tell them “bad things-cosas malas”. The apparition lasted 11 minutes. When it was over, the people approached the girls to speak with them. It was noticed that one of them still had tears on her cheeks.
The positioning of the people at a distance, the sad expression and tears of the seers, and Mari Carmen’s answer to the pastor have been interpreted as an indication that Our Lady spoke of the chastisement that she would eventually show the girls in a vision at a later date.
Loli told the people that they had held Our Lady’s crown in their hands. This coincided with the gestures that the onlookers had observed during the vision. One of the girls had risen to her feet and seemingly had taken an object from Our Lady. She had looked at it and then had raised it to her own head. Then she had passed it on to the third one (Conchita, it will be remembered, was in Santander). Each girl had raised it to her own head and it had seemed to “fit” differently on each.
While the people were still talking to the girls about what had happened during the second apparition, they went back into ecstasy for the third time. The Infant Jesus accompanied Our Lady on this visit. He was wearing a crown and passed it on to the girls who remarked that it was small. It would seem that this passing of the crowns by Our Lady and the Infant Jesus was done to comfort and console the girls after the sad things that had been revealed. Simplicity and tender love are the hallmarks of the Garabandal apparitions. They are a very important part of the “action” messages of these happenings.
Our lady told the girls that she was very pleased because the people had obeyed so well and had so docily accepted the positions assigned to them. The underlining of obedience in this way is still another instance of the concrete manner through actions and events, that much of the message was taught.
The fourth apparition took place soon after the third and while the girls were still at the pines. It lasted about an hour. During the previous vision, Our Lady had asked that the people recite the rosary, stating that they could say it at the pines. During the rosary, the girls went into ecstasy, with their voices suddenly fading away.
Fr. Ramon M. Andreu, S. J. has given us considerable information concerning a part of this fourth apparition that had to do with himself. We have dealt with this at some length in the book, OUR LADY COMES TO GARABANDAL (pp. 61-63). It was on this day that he and his brother, Luis, also a Jesuit, had come to the village for the first time and that he, (Fr. Ramon) was given his own personal “proof”. He says that this final apparition of the day took place at the end of the afternoon.
A Priest Tries to Learn the Secret
On Sunday, July 30, among the many people who came to the village were three priests from Leon. One of them, Don Manuel Anton, was pastor of the parish of San Claudio. The other two, Don Manuel Anton, was pastor of the parish of San Claudio. The other two, Don Victor Lopez and Don Geminiano Garcia, were involved in teaching. The information concerning what happened on July 30 was imparted to Fr. De Pesquera by Don Manuel Anton.
The three priests arrived at Garabandal at 12:30 and went directly to Loli’s house. Aware that she was the one most frequently involved in the events at that time, Don Manuel was eager to talk alone with her. He had come to get all the information he could. In fact he was overzealous, as his questioning of Loli will soon reveal.
Don Manuel questioned Loli about the very beginning of the events, especially the first apparition of June 18. He believed that the easiest way to appraise such happenings, to discover if there was trickery or deceit, was to find our exactly how it all began. It became clear to him from Loli’s answers that everything had been totally unexpected and that the girls had even been quite disconcerted at the start. He was very much impressed by Loli’s “air of absolute sincerity” and was generally quite satisfied.
As he talked to the girl, Dona Manuel learned that Our Lady had confided some things that were not to be told to the people. Since this is a delicate matter, we prefer to quote directly now from de Pesquera’s book and give his report of Don Manuel’s interrogation of the child:
“You must tell me everything because I have a right to know I am not just an ordinary person.” The girl stiffened in her refusal; she could not, she could not; the Blessed Virgin had told them that they were not to tell it to anyone until the day had arrived…
However Don Manuel succeeded in breaking down her resistance with these words: “I told you that I have the authority to ask you and it is God’s will that you tell me. So you must obey-Asi que! Obedece!
Then the child, nervous and making a great effort, attempted to comply with his command…”It was really amazing,” Don Manuel remarked to me. “I was not able to understand a singe phrase. And it is not that she talked in a low voice, nor that she deliberately attempted to speak in an unintelligible way. It is simply that a very strange phenomenon occurred in her speech. Until then, she had expressed herself in a completely normal way and I understood her perfectly. But when she came to the point where she wanted to tell me ‘the secret’ it was as if neither her lips not her tongue would respond to her will. There was only a stammering and sort of jumble of sounds that seemed to clash with each other. I could see that she was trying to make herself understood, yet there was no way of grasping a word. It was as though she had suddenly begun to talk in the most strange and unknown of languages.
“ ‘See?’, she said to me at the end, in her customary clear speech. ‘See?, the Blessed Virgin did not want me to tell you those things.’”
We conclude here so that you may ponder this powerful happening in your heart. I believe it was meant by a loving God for you and for me as much as for Don Manuel and his two friends.
_P. 95 and following. In the English translation, entitled THE APPARITIONS OF GARABANDAL, see p. 57 and following.
_Fr. De Pesquera mentions an ecstatic walk that occurred on July 16, 1961. All previous books mention these walks as first taking place in the early days of August, 1961.