A look at the many Apparition's of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the Ages by Deacon John.
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It is also reported in "Garabandal International Magazine" that in April, Conchita sent Joey Lomangino a copy of this letter dated February 12th, 2007.
Also important is the news that the current pastor of Garabandal, Fr. J. Rolando Cabeza Fuentes is a believer in the apparitions and has been reported to say as much from the pulpit. He has also led a group in praying the Rosary at the Pines, where the future Great Miracle will take place. A large photo of this is in the magazine, showing Father Rolando kneeling at the Pines leading the group.
This is all encouraging and happy news for us believers as we await the fulfillment of the prophecies of Our Lady of Mount Carmel de Garabandal!
THE STORY OF GARABANDAL
San Sebastian de Garabandal is a small farming village located in the foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains of northern Spain. It is about 55 miles by car in a westerly direction from the provincial capital of Santander and about 15 miles inland from the Cantabrian Sea.
In 1961, it was the poorest and most isolated of all the farming hamlets in the region. The only access to this village was a three and a half mile dirt road cut into the side of a mountain that led up from Cosio, the next closest village.
The parish priest of Cosio was also the pastor of Garabandal and on weekends, he went up by horseback to celebrate Mass, hear confessions and give the children a catechism lesson.
NOTE: All the information in the following account is based on reports from eyewitnesses and interviews conducted with the visionaries.
Visit from an Angel
On June 18, 1961, four girls, Conchita Gonzalez (12), Mari Cruz Gonzalez (11) Jacinta Gonzalez (12), and Mari Loli Mazon (12) were playing on the outskirts of the village when they heard a sound like thunder.
Suddenly, there stood before them a dazzling angel. He said nothing and quickly disappeared. Pale and visibly shaken, they ran to the village church and the apparition became known.
Over the next several days, the girls saw the angel again and then on July 1st he spoke: "Do you know why I have come? It is to announce to you that tomorrow the Blessed Virgin will appear to you as Our Lady of
"On this day we saw [the angel] had a sign beneath him. The first line had the word 'Hay–it is necessary that' and on the second line were some Roman numerals. We asked him what it meant but he only smiled and didn't say anything." –Conchita's Diary
The Blessed Virgin Appears to the Children
News spread quickly. On July 2, many priests were among the numerous visitors who joined the villagers to witness the great event.
At about 6:00 p.m., the girls were on their way to the calleja (a rock filled lane leading up a hill from the village) where they had been seeing the angel when the Blessed Virgin appeared with the Infant Jesus and two angels, one on each side.
One of the angels they recognized as the one who had been appearing to them, later identified as St. Michael the Archangel, and the other looked identical. Above and to the right was a large eye that the girls called the eye of God.
Without the slightest fear the girls spoke to the Lady of their vision. They spoke about their families, the priests who were there and the work they did at home or in the fields –and the Lady smiled.
Conchita said she was like their mother who had been away on a trip and had just come back. At her bidding, they said the rosary in her presence and she helped them to say it correctly.
Over the next year and a half she would appear to the four girls hundreds of times.
"The Blessed Virgin was smiling as usual.
The first thing she said was, 'Do you know the meaning of the sign that was beneath the angel?'
'No we don't,' we exclaimed together.
'It has a message that I am going to give you so you may announce it publicly on October 18th,' she said." –Conchita's Diary
The girls' visions were preceded by three interior calls (llamadas) each becoming stronger than the last. After the third call they ran off to the place where they were to see the vision and upon arrival, abruptly fell to their knees entering into an ecstatic rapture.
The ecstatic rapture was complete. The girls' eyes were dilated and their faces became transformed with an unearthly beauty that could not adequately be captured on film or in photos.
"I have seen the photos but even the photos can't compare to the real thing."–Witness Clinio Sans Lopez
They could not see or hear anything except their Vision and themselves and they showed no response to pin pricks, burns with the tips of hot matches and bright spotlights shone directly into their eyes.
And while the girls moved easily and gracefully in ecstasy, others found them rigid to the touch and were not able to turn their heads or change the position of their arms.
The weight factor of the visionaries changed so much that two men had great difficulty in lifting one 12-year-old from the ground while the girls themselves were able to lift each other with surprising ease to offer a kiss to their Vision.
Breathtaking Ecstatic Falls
August began with new phenomena. As the girls knelt in ecstasy, they could at any time suddenly flop over backwards until their heads were touching the ground.
Sometimes they fell in perfect unison forming beautiful sculptures, but their clothing was never immodestly ruffled or unbecoming.
At other times they fell straight over backwards hitting the floor with a thud to the horror of onlookers. But they were never hurt and would get up without the support of their hands or arms.
Ecstatic Marches Defy Natural Laws
Also in August of 1961, the girls began walking in ecstasy either forward or backward throughout the village with their eyes fixed above the whole time.
Notice in the picture on the far right how Mari Loli's foot carefully avoids a protruding stone.
Sometimes they moved so fast that not even the young men of the village running full speed could keep up with them. Afterwards they were neither tired nor perspiring and their pulse rates were normal.
During these ecstatic flights, they were able to come to a dead stop defying the laws of physics, whereas those trying to keep up, carried by momentum, went running right past them.
The girls in ecstasy always carried a crucifix which they offered to the bystanders for veneration. They never knew who was kissing the crucifix because in ecstasy they couldn't see anyone except their vision and themselves.
At the Virgin's command they would hold out the crucifix to whomever Mary wanted to kiss it.
After one ecstasy, Conchita learned that everyone who had kissed the crucifix was a priest dressed in civilian clothes.
The Vision Kisses Religious Objects
In the early days of the apparitions, to amuse the Infant the Lady of their visions carried in her arms, the girls offered Him small stones.
The Infant did not take the stones but the Lady did and kissing them, told the girls to give them to certain people once the ecstasy was over.
When the spectators heard that the Vision had kissed stones they gave their rosaries and medals to the girls to see if the Lady would kiss these religious articles. The Lady did accept to kiss them and this practice continued throughout the apparitions. There were notable characteristics of this phenomena.
People often gave their religious articles to the girls through a third party, or placed them on a table set aside for this purpose in the girls' homes when the girls were not present.
There was no way the girls could possibly have known to whom each of the articles belonged, yet in ecstasy, guided by their Vision, they never made a mistake in the thousands of times they returned rosaries, medals, wedding rings or other religious articles to the rightful owners.
The Virgin told Conchita that those who wear these objects with faith and devotion would do their purgatory on earth, and that through these objects her Son would perform prodigies.
"Through the kiss I have bestowed on these objects, my Son will perform prodigies." –Our Lady to Conchita, November 13, 1965
THE STORY CONTINUED. . .
Among the many priests who went up to Garabandal to study the events was a Jesuit, Father Luis Andreu. He was a brilliant young theology professor who also had the reputation for being a saintly priest.
Father Andreu was skeptical on his first visit but after closely studying the girls in ecstasy he realized something serious was happening to them.
On August 8, 1961, Father Andreu made another visit to the village.
That night he was among the crowd observing the girls in ecstasy at the pine grove where the visions often took place. Suddenly his face became tense. Beads of perspiration formed on his brow and he cried out: "Miracle, miracle, miracle, miracle!"
"I was very close to the girls in ecstasy and Father Andreu. I heard him say, 'Miracle, miracle!' Afterwards, as we were coming down from the Pines, Father Arroyo and I both heard him say, 'I don't have to come to Garabandal anymore because for me, this is supernatural.' At Loli's house before leaving, Father Andreu said, 'This is the happiest day of my life.'"–Clinio Sans Lopez
On the drive home with friends during the early hours of the next morning, Father Andreu said, "What a gift the Virgin has given me. How lucky we are to have a mother like that in heaven. This is the happiest day of my life."
He then made a slight coughing sound and lowered his head to his chest. Father Andreu was dead.
In a later vision, the Blessed Virgin told the girls that on August 8th, Father Andreu had not only seen her but he saw a vision of the great future Miracle as well.
October 18th finally arrived, the day the girls were to announce the long-awaited message from the Blessed Virgin.
It was a day of apocalyptic overtones with thunder and lightning, cold and rain. Nonetheless, hundreds of people made the sacrifice to be there on this all important day.
Time wore on. Many left. Finally, the message was read aloud at the Pines to the crowd that still remained.
–We must make many sacrifices, perform much penance and visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently. But first we must lead good lives. If we do not, a chastisement will befall us. The cup is already filling up and if we do not change, a very great chastisement will come upon us.
Communion from an Angel
Beginning in the summer of 1961, the Archangel Saint Michael gave the visionaries Holy Communion, however, he only did this when there was no priest in the village from whom they could normally receive. During these Communions, the Host could be seen by the girls in ecstasy but were invisible to onlookers.
The angel taught them how to receive with reverence. Preparation came first then Communion and finally thanksgiving. But priests were skeptical about these invisible Communions. How could they receive Communion from an angel when only a priest had the power to consecrate? The girls asked the angel. He told them he took the Hosts from tabernacles on earth.
Miracle of the Visible Communion
For some time, the girls pleaded with the Blessed Virgin and Saint Michael to perform a miracle to convince those who still did not believe.
Finally, Saint Michael told Conchita that on a certain date indicated by the Virgin, the invisible Communion which he had been giving her would on that day become visible on her tongue. Conchita called that a small miracle because she thought the Host could always be seen by the onlookers whenever she received It.
When the day arrived that had been announced by Conchita 15 days in advance, several hundred people were in the village but the wait proved long and tiresome. Many became discouraged and left.
Then about 1:30 in the morning of the 19th, Conchita came out of her house in ecstasy, turned a corner and as the crowd pressed around her, dropped to her knees in an adjacent street. She then put out her tongue. Those just inches away affirmed that it was bare. The Visions End for Three of the Girls
Suddenly, faster than the human eye could detect, a brilliant white Host appeared on the girl's tongue.
A Barcelona businessman with a borrowed movie camera and only flashlight illumination took several frames of film showing the Host on Conchita's tongue.
Great Prophesied Events
By the end of January, 1963, the visions had ceased for Mari Loli, Jacinta and Mari Cruz. Only Conchita continued to have visions but they were fewer and farther apart. However, at this time, Conchita and Mari Loli began to experience locutions. A locution is an interior voice without any accompanying vision.
There are three great prophesied events coming from the Garabandal events, the Warning (Aviso in Spanish), the great Miracle and the conditional Chastisement which will come if the world does not change after the Warning and Miracle.
The first of these three events to occur is the Warning. It will be seen in the sky and then felt interiorly by everyone on earth. No one will escape it.
At a moment in the not too distant future, when the world is in the midst of a great turmoil, everything will be held in suspension. At that moment, everyone will see the wrong they have done and the good they have failed to do. It will be extremely painful; people would prefer to die rather than go through it. But it will cause no physical harm. If a person should die, it will only be from the shock of the experience. The Warning will serve as a purification to "correct the conscience of the world" and prepare it for the great Miracle.
The Visions End for Three of the Girls
The Miracle will take place at the grove of the nine pine trees. It will occur on a Thursday evening at 8:30 on or between the 8th and 16th of March, April or May. Conchita knows the date and will announce it 8 days in advance. It will be on the feast day of a young martyr and will coincide with a great ecclesiastical event in the Church.
All those either in the village or on the surrounding mountains will see it and the Pope will see it from wherever he is. The sick who are present will be cured, sinners will be converted and the incredulous will believe. It will be the greatest miracle that Jesus will have ever performed for the world. As a result of the Miracle, Russia will be converted. After the Miracle, a permanent, visible, supernatural sign will remain at the Pines until the end of time.
If after the Miracle the world still does not change, then God will send the chastisement. It will be far worse than anything man could bring upon himself. It will be in keeping with what he deserves for his crimes.
"Why is the Miracle coming? To convert many people?"
He answered, "To convert the whole world."
"Will Russia be converted?"
"It also will be converted; and so everyone will love Our Hearts."
The Second Message
On January 1, 1965, Conchita saw the Blessed Virgin at the Pines. During this apparition the Virgin told the teenager that because the world has not paid any attention to her first message, she would give a second and last one to be delivered on her behalf by Saint Michael the Archangel on June 18, 1965.
When the day arrived, thousands of people filled the village to witness Conchita's ecstasy and learn of the Virgin's message. Late at night, Conchita went into ecstasy. Saint Michael then gave her the Blessed Virgin's final message . . .
"As my Message of October eighteenth  has not been complied with and has not been made known to the world, I am advising you that this is the last one.
Before the cup was filling up. Now it is flowing over.
Many cardinals, many bishops and many priests are on the road to perdition and are taking many souls with them.
Less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist.
You should turn the wrath of God away from yourselves by your efforts. If you ask His forgiveness with sincere hearts He will pardon you.
I your mother, through the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel, ask you to amend your lives.
You are now receiving the last warnings.
I love you very much and do not want your condemnation.
Pray to Us with sincerity and We will grant your requests.
You should make more sacrifices. Think about the passion of Jesus."
The Last Apparition at Garabandal
November 13, 1965, was a day mixed with joy and sadness for Conchita. The Virgin appeared with her Child to the teenager but it was to be for the last time at Garabandal. As Mary had already indicated this was to be a special apparition for kissing religious objects and Conchita had many with her.
After kissing the articles, the Virgin said: 'Through the kiss I have bestowed on these objects, my Son will perform prodigies. Distribute them to others. Talk to me, Conchita, talk to me about my children. I hold them all beneath my mantle. This will be the last time you will see me here but I shall always be with you and with all my children.
Conchita, why don't you go and visit my Son in the tabernacle? He waits for you night and day." Conchita said to the Virgin, "I am so happy when I see both of you. Why don't you take me now to heaven with you?" She replied, "Remember what I told you on your patronal feast day? When you present yourself before God, your hands must be filled with good deeds done for your brothers and for His glory. At the present time, your hands are empty."
It was all over. The happy moments when Conchita had been with her heavenly Mother and the Child Jesus had passed although she still felt Their presence. She said, 'They have left my soul filled with peace and joy and a great desire to overcome my faults and to love with all my strength the Hearts of Jesus and Mary who love us so much."
The View of Medical Science
And what does medical science have to say about the Garabandal events? More than 40 doctors examined the girls at different times.
Pediatrician Dr. Celestino Ortiz studied them for 22 consecutive days. Outside of ecstasy, he found them to be normal and well balanced. And of their ecstasies he said, "To keep silent would be true scientific cowardice. We do not find any convincing explanation for such phenomena."
Dr. Ricardo Puncernau was an internationally known neuropsychiatrist right at the top of his profession. He performed the most extensive series of tests on the girls over a 12 day period. His conclusions? The quantity and the quality of the phenomena ruled out any natural explanation. He said, "From a strictly scientific point of view, one cannot deny the possibility of a supernatural cause in all these phenomena."
Another prominent psychiatrist connected with the events was Dr. Luis Morales. In 1961 he had his own clinic in Santander and the Bishop appointed him chief medical examiner of a commission formed to study the reported apparitions. At the time, he did not believe the events to be of supernatural origin.
Later, this same Dr. Morales made headlines when he reversed his original position. On May 30, 1983, he gave a public lecture with the Bishop's permission in Santander's largest conference hall. To the overflow crowd he gave his reasons why he believed the Garabandal apparitions were genuine.
The Church's View
The Church has always taken the events of Garabandal seriously. Principal visionary, Conchita Gonzalez, twice has been summoned to Rome. The first time was in January, 1966, when she was called there by Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, prefect of the Holy Office (now called the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) where she was interrogated by members of the Holy Office. It was during this trip that she was received by His Holiness Pope Paul VI in a private audience. And it is an incontrovertible fact that he told the visionary, "I bless you and with me the whole Church blesses you."
It was also during this trip to Italy for Conchita that she went to San Giovanni Rotondo where she was warmly received by Padre Pio.
In December, 1967, Conchita was again summoned to Rome this time by Cardinal Franjo Seper, who succeeded Cardinal Ottaviani as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and she made the journey in February, 1968. Little is known of what transpired because Conchita was not permitted to speak about it, however, the fact that she was there from the fifth to the nineteenth indicates its significance.
[My thanks to www.garabandalny.com for allowing this story to be published here.]