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
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."
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
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.
The Miracle of the Host
"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
"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.
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.
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 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:
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
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
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."