Garabandal is a small village in northern Spain, in the Santander province, near the Picos de Europa mountains, a rugged and beautiful setting. Its full name is San Sebastian of Garabandal. It is located 600 meters above sea level, some 57 miles from the capital of the province. To get there one must climb steep, poor roads. No more than 300 people live in Garabandal. The town is impressively quiet. There is no doctor in the town and no resident pastor at the parish church. The pastor from Cosio, the next town down the road, used to celebrate Mass there on Sunday.
In the evening of June 18, 1961, four girls were playing on the outskirts of the town - Conchita Gonzalez, Maria Dolores (Mari-loli) Mazon, Jacinta Gonzalez and Maria Cruz Gonzalez (not related despite having the same name.) Maria Cruz was eleven, the others twelve, and all were from poor families.
Suddenly they heard a loud noise, like thunder, and saw before them the bright figure of the Archangel Michael. On the following days the Archangel appeared to them again in the same place. He announced that on July 2 they would see Our Lady. This was the beginning of the Garabandal events.
Our Lady of Carmel
The news spread quickly through the region. July 2 was a Sunday and the town was crowded. There were people from all social levels and very many from out of town, among them several physicians and priests. At six in the evening the girls went to the place where the Angel had appeared, and to the surprise of the crowd they entered into ecstasy. Our Lady appeared to them accompanied by two angels, one being St. Michael. The girls described the vision as follows:
"She is dressed in a white robe with a blue mantle and a crown of golden stars. Her hands are slender. There is a brown scapular on her right arm, except when she carried the Child Jesus in her arms. Her hair, deep nut-brown, is parted in the center. Her face is long, with a fine nose. Her mouth is very pretty with lips a bit thin. She looks like a girl of eighteen. She is rather tall. There is no voice like hers. No woman is just like her, either in the voice or the face or anything else. " Our Lady Manifested herself as Our Lady of Carmel."
At times the wind rustled her long hair which reached down to her waist. The girls spoke with the Virgin with the utmost naturalness. "We were telling her," they said, "about our tasks, how we were going to the meadows..." and "She smiled at the little things we told her." Our Lady showed them how to treat her: "Like children who speak with their mother and tell her everything...Children who rejoice to see her when they have not seen her for a while."
After this first apparition there were many more. During 1961 and 1962 Our Lady appeared several times each week. The four girls did not always receive the apparition together. Sometimes only one, other times two or three of them saw the vision. Nor was it always at the same hour of the day. Our Lady appeared many times at night and even early in the morning, in an attitude of sacrifice and penance, at the same hours when Our Lord is most offended by the sins of men. Even so, the girls would arise the following morning, as early as usual, to work in the fields, carrying bundles of grass or wood, or tending the cattle and sheep, without showing signs of fatigue.
When the vision appeared, the girls fell instantaneously on their knees, striking the sharp rocks with a loud noise that was frightening, yet they showed no signs of injury. The expression on their faces was suddenly transformed. Their look became extraordinarily beautiful, sweet, one of profound mysticism. There are no words that can properly describe the change. They were completely absorbed in their rapture, unaware of anyone or any material thing around them except for each other. They did no react to pricks, burns or blows. All attempts to distract them failed. Powerful beams of strong light were focused on them, yet their eyes did not even flicker, blink or show any signs of discomfort. Quite the contrary, their eyes remained wide open , expressing a look of intense joy. However, when the girls returned to the normal state, they immediately shielded their eyes from those bright lights which under normal circumstances should have caused permanent eye damage.
During these ecstasies, which lasted from a few minutes to several hours, time did not seem to count. On many occasions they remained immobile in off-balance, beautiful "sculptured-like" positions, heads tilted back, eyes looking up, kneeling on the rocks or bare-legged in the snow. At the end of the ecstasy, they showed no signs of excitation or nervousness, just deep, profound peace and joy.
Participation of the Observers
Many visitors and villagers gave the girls various objects, such as bibles, rosaries, scapulars, medals, crucifixes, wedding rings, etc. for Our Lady to kiss. In ecstasy, the girls raised them up to Her and She kissed them. Then guided by Our Lady, the girls returned the items to their correct owners, even in cases where the person had first confided the object to someone else so the child did not know who the real owner was. Things "kissed" by Our Lady of Carmel have been the instruments of very special favors. Occasionally, these have emitted a mysterious fragrance like that of roses. "Our Lady says", Conchita wrote, "that Jesus will work miracles through the objects kissed by her. Those who carry or wear them with faith and confidence will suffer their purgatory here on earth."
While in ecstasy, the girls often carried a crucifix in their hand which Our Lady had kissed, and as She directed, they extended it for observers to kiss, blessing them with it at the same time. On seeing the girls approach, many witnesses experienced such a tremendous spiritual awakening, that it produced a very deep interior emotion in them. They cried unashamed tears, admitting the supernatural nature of what they were seeing, hearing and feeling within them, the very presence of the Mother of God. The conversion of unbelievers and those of different faiths, of souls suffering from religious indifference, the conversions of many sinners, all of which have experienced an increase in faith, hope, and charity.
Soon after Our Lady of Carmel appeared, the ecstatic walks began. The girls went throughout the entire village - up and down stairways, in and out of homes, at all hours of the day and night, avoiding obstacles without faltering, guided solely by the vision. Frequently, they ran at great speed down the steep mountainside, even backwards, so that it was impossible for the astonished spectators to follow them. Their bodies did not seem to be subject to the law of gravity, but endowed with some sort of spiritual agility. During their high-speed running, the objects entrusted to the girls were sometimes lost. However, upon seeing Our Blessed Mother again, they asked as to their whereabouts and She told them where to find them.
The Miracle of the Host
Above the village is a steep hill on which stands a cluster of 9 pine trees. "One day," said the girls, "an angel with a golden chalice appeared to us at "The Pines". He told us to recite the Confiteor and then he gave us Holy Communion." This wonderful favor happened many times during those days when the parish priest of the neighboring town of Cosio could not go to Garabandal. It was possible to film some of these Communions, using very bright light. The movements of the lips and tongues of the girls gave the exact idea of a real Communion. On May 2, 1962, the angel told Conchita that God would perform a miracle so that all people would believe: they would see the Sacred Host on her tongue at the moment of Communion and that she should make this known fifteen days in advance. On July 18, 1962, the town was crowded with visitors. At midnight Conchita, who had remained in her home continually surrounded by visitors, entered into ecstasy and went out into the street. At a short distance from her house she fell down on her knees in the midst of the crowd. Lanterns were focused on her. She put out her tongue upon which nothing was resting, as everyone could see. In a few moments, a white host appeared on her tongue and remained there for a few minutes. A businessman from Barcelona, Don Alejandro Damians, standing less than three feet from the girl, secured some very good moving pictures. In the film there appeared 79 pictures of the extraordinary scene. This same witness wrote a report which he submitted to the Bishop of Santander, together with a copy of the film. The number of witnesses on this occasion was very large: there were people from different cultures and social classes. Don Benjamin Gomez, a farmer from Potes, wrote:
The miracle of the host is a true confirmation of the apparitions of Our Blessed Mother in Garabandal and of the reality of her message. But a still greater miracle has been promised.
"I was standing at less than an arm's length from the girl. I saw very well that her tongue was completely clean of everything. The girl did not move. Suddenly there appeared on it the Sacred Host. It was white, shining and resplendent. It reminded one of the snow when the sun strikes it with its brilliant rays. The girl's face was beautifully transformed into heavenly ecstasy. Her face was angelic I can certify that she was there motionless, moving neither hands nor tongue. In this motionless position she received the Sacred Host. We had enough time to contemplate this marvelous phenomenon without any undue haste, and we were many who saw it. I was an unbeliever until that day. I am not such a Catholic as to be subject to any hallucination or imagination. I had not concerned myself about God until then except to offend Him. I went to confession in April but previous to that time I had not gone to confession for twenty-three years."
A Greater Miracle to Come
Conchita has clearly said that Our Lady has promised a greater miracle in Garabandal so that all may believe the apparitions and be obedient to the message. "As the punishment which we deserve for the sins of the world is great, the miracle must also be a great one, for the world needs it." It will occur on a Thursday on the feast day of a saint devoted to the Eucharist, at 8:30 in the evening, and will last for about one quarter of an hour. It will also coincide with a great event in the Church. The sick who come to Garabandal on that day will be cured, unbelievers will be converted. There will remain a permanent sign at "The Pines" as a proof of Our Lady's tremendous love for all her children.
"The sign that will remain," says Conchita, "will be able to be seen, photographed and televised but it will not be able to be touched. It will appear clearly that it is something not of this world, but of God."
Conchita has been granted permission by Our Lady to announce the date of the miracle eight days in advance. With the present means of communication and travel, eight days are sufficient for people around the world to gather. The day of The miracle may be the last opportunity given us by God and may be also Our Lady's last effort to save the world from the punishment already threatened.
Some time ago Conchita wrote, "The Blessed Virgin will not allow me to reveal the nature of The miracle although I already know it. Neither can I reveal the date of it, which I know, until eight days before it is to happen." Before The miracle takes place Our Lady has said that all mankind will receive a warning from heaven.
Conchita wrote: "The warning comes directly from God and will be visible to the whole world and from any place where anyone many happen to be. It will be like the revelation of our sins and it will be seen and felt by everyone, believer and unbeliever alike irrespective of whatever religion he may belong to. It will be seen and felt in all parts of the world and by every person."
It will happen in the sky, no one can prevent it form happening. We will even prefer to be dead rather than to pass through this Warning It will not kill us. It will be a "correction" of our conscience. It will cause great fear and will make us reflect within ourselves on the consequences of our own personal sins. It will be like a warning of the punishment to come. In this way the world will be offered a means of purification to prepare itself for the extraordinary grace of the Great Miracle.
Jacinta was told by Our Blessed Mother "that the warning would come when conditions were at their worst." The date was not revealed to the visionaries, however Mari-Loli does know the year; and she said that The Miracle will happen within one year after The Warning.
If we do not pay attention to the message, the punishment announced by Our Lady will be visited on the whole world after The miracle. During one of their ecstasies the girls were heard praying for the innocent children but, nevertheless, they shed tears at the same time. Since the day they learned about the punishment they have developed a great spirit of sacrifice. They pray very much for sinners and for priests. They often say that if priests are not what they should be many souls will be lost.
Conchita has written: "I cannot reveal what kind of punishment it is except that it will be a result of the direct intervention of God, which makes it more terrible and fearful than anything we can imagine. It will be less painful for innocent babies to die a natural death than for those babies to die because of the punishment. All Catholics should go to confession before the punishment and the others should repent of their sins. When I saw IT (the punishment), I felt a great fear even though at the same time I was seeing Our Blessed Mother. The punishment, if it comes, will come after the miracle"
When Our Lady spoke to the girls of the punishment, her face assumed a look of great sadness. The girls revealed: "We have never seen her look so serious. When she said the words 'The cup is already filling', she spoke in a very low voice."
A New Message
On January 1, 1965, Conchita had an apparition of Our Lady who told her that on June 18, the fourth anniversary of the apparitions, she would be given another message. Thus, six months before the actual date Conchita revealed this promise of Our Lady.
On June 18 more than two thousand people gathered in Garabandal - French, Germans, English, Italians, Americans and Polish were among the people who joined the groups from different parts of Spain. The Spanish were in the minority, perhaps due to the fact the apparitions had received practically no publicity. The French constituted the largest group. There were journalists, TV cameras from the Italian TV network, and cameramen from NO-DO (the Spanish official documentary news program). Leaving her house at 11:30 p.m. Conchita walked to the road leading to the Pines to the place called the Cuadro. There she was rapt in ecstasy which lasted sixteen minutes. St. Michael appeared to her and delivered the message from Our Lady, which was made public the next morning. It reads:
Message which Our Lady has given to the world through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel. The angel said, "Since my message of October 18 has not been made known to the world and has not been fulfilled, I tell you that this is my last message. Previously, the cup was being filled. Now it is overflowing. Many Cardinals, many Bishops and many Priests are on the road to perdition and with them they are bringing many souls. The Holy Eucharist is being given less importance (honor). We must avoid God's anger with us by our efforts at amendment. If we beg pardon with sincerity of soul, He will forgive us. I, your Mother, through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, want to tell you to amend your lives. You are already receiving one of the last warnings. I love you very much and do not want your condemnation. Ask sincerely and we will give to you. You should make more sacrifices. Think of the Passion of Jesus."
From this message one can clearly sense Our Lady's disappointment at the scant attention paid to her message of October 18, 1961. The Blessed Mother shows her motherly concern for priests and the need to place the Holy Eucharist where it belongs - at the center of the mysteries of our Faith. To urge us to sacrifice, she recommends meditation on the Passion of Our Lord.
Our Blessed mother has told us this is her last message. Because of this she wants all her children to listen to her plea before The warning and The miracle. For the reason that she wishes it, we should propagate this urgent message as widely as possible.
Father Luis Marie Andreu
The only other person to see Our Blessed Mother at Garabandal was a 38-year old Spanish Jesuit Priest, Father Luis Marie Andreu. On August 8, 1961, Father Luis was Among the spectators at The Pines when suddenly he became an integral part of the Garabandal drama. He was heard to say, Miracle! Miracle!" Not only did he see The Virgin Mary, but he was shown the forthcoming Great Miracle. The children in ecstasy understood Our Lady to say to him: "You will soon be with me." Although, he had never had any history of serious illness, he died that same night of complete joy. His final words were:
"Oh! What a sweet and lovely mother we have in heaven...how happy I am... what a favor The Blessed Virgin has bestowed on me. How fortunate we are to have a mother like her in heaven!. There is no reason to fear the supernatural life. The girls have given us an example of how we must act with the Blessed Virgin. There is no doubt, in my mind that the things involving the girls are true. Why should the Blessed Virgin have chosen us? This is the happiest day of my life." With those words, Father bowed his head and died. Our Lady has said, "that on the day AFTER the Miracle his body will be found to be incorrupt."
Our Blessed Mother showed special attention and concern for all priests, repeatedly asking that they come to Garabandal. She gave the girls the ability to recognize them even when they came dressed as laymen, revealing the state of their souls. She taught the children that priests were more important even than angels because by means of their ordination they have the power to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Last Apparition
On Saturday, November 13, 1965 Conchita had her last apparition of Our Lady in Garabandal. She gives the details in a letter of which the following is a literal translation:
"One day in church Our Lady told me in a locution that I would see her on Saturday, November 13, at the pines; it would be a special apparition to kiss the religious objects so that I could give them away afterwards. I was anxious for this day to arrive so that I could see again the Blessed Virgin and the Child Jesus who have implanted in my life the seed of God's happiness. With this apparition of Our Lady, the cycle of apparitions in Garabandal closed. It will be definitely confirmed on a Thursday at 8:30 p.m. when The miracle takes place. This will mark the beginning of a new era in the history of the salvation of mankind.
It was raining but it did not matter to me. I went up to the Pines carrying with me the many rosaries which people have given to me to distribute them... As I was going up I was talking to myself, being sorry for my defects, desiring not to fall into them again, for it gave me much worry to appear before the Mother of God without wiping them out.
When I arrived at the pines, I began to take the rosaries out and heard a sweet voice, that of the Virgin, which you always distinguish among others, calling me by my name. I answered her 'what?' At that very moment I saw Her with the Child in her arms. She was dressed as usual and smiling. I told Her, 'I have come to bring you the rosaries so that you can kiss them.' She said to me, 'I can see it.' I had been chewing gum, but as I was seeing Her I did not chew it; I placed the gum on a tooth. She must have noticed for She said, 'Conchita why don't you get rid of the chewing gum and offer it up as a sacrifice for the glory of my Son?' I, a bit ashamed of myself, took it out and threw it on the ground. She said afterwards, 'Do you remember what I told you on your saint's day - that you would suffer much on earth?... Now I repeat it to you. Have confidence in Us. Then I added, 'How unworthy I am, O Mother of us, of so many graces received through you, and now you have come to me to help me carry the little cross I have." She said, 'Conchita, I am not coming only for you but I am coming for all my children, with a desire to get them closer to Our Hearts.' She asked for the things I was carrying. 'Give them to me so that I can kiss all you are carrying with you.' And I gave her everything. I was bringing with me also a small crucifix which I gave her to kiss. She kissed it and said , 'Put it in the hands of the Child Jesus.' And I did that and He said nothing. I said 'This cross I intend to take with me when I go to the convent.' But he did not reply. After kissing everything She commented, 'My son, through this kiss, will work wonders. Distribute them to the others..." Of course I will do it.
After all this she requested that I tell her all the petitions for others which I had received. She said, 'Conchita, tell me, tell me things about my children. I have all of them under my cloak.' And I commented, 'It is too small and there is no room for all of us.' She smiled at this.
'Do You know, Conchita, why I did not come personally on June 18 to give you the message for the world? Because it pained me to say it myself, but I have to say it to you for your own good and, if you fulfill it, for God's glory. I love you very much and I desire your salvation; to gather you all around God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Conchita, won't you respond to this?' I said, 'If I could be always seeing you, yes; but otherwise I can't because I am very bad...' 'You do all you can,' Our Lady added, 'and We will help you, as well as my daughters Loli, Jacinta and Maricruz...'
She did not stay long with me. She also said, 'This will be the last time you see me here, but I will always be with all my children.' Afterwards she added, 'Conchita, why don't you go often to visit my Son in the Most Blessed Sacrament? Why do you let yourself be carried away by laziness and not go to visit Him Who is waiting for you day an night?'
As I have written above, it was raining hard. Our Lady and the Child did not get wet. I was not aware it was raining while seeing them, but when I stopped seeing them I was soaked. I also told her, 'O how happy I am when I see you. Why don't you take me with you right now?' She answered, 'Remember what I told you on your saint's day. When you go before God you must show Him your hands filled with good works done by you for your brothers and for the glory of God; now your hands are empty.'
That's all, I spent a happy moment with my mother from heaven, my best friend, and with the Child Jesus. I have stopped seeing them but not feeling them close. Again they have sown in my soul great peace, joy and a desire to conquer my defects so that I will be able to love, with all my strength, the hearts of Jesus and Mary who love us so much..."
Conchita ends with this: "The Blessed Virgin Mary told me before that Jesus does not want to send the punishment in order to distress us but in order to help us and reproach us because we pay no attention to Him. And the warning will be sent in order to purify us for the miracle in which he will show us His great love, and in order that we may fulfill the message."