by Marco Corvaglia
§ 7. "Into What a Mess We Got Ourselves!"
In the two photos (from different angles), Mari Loli (left) and Jacinta, during an "ecstatic march". Among the wonders that allegedly happened in Garabandal, there was the fact that the girls walked on rough tracks without looking at the ground. However it is apparent that the two were holding each other’s hand and advancing very close, to avoid falling.
The seers of Garabandal (this undeniable source of Medjugorje), even admitted, with various confessions, although later retracted, that they had never seen the Madonna.
Let’s follow the relation of one of these confessions, through the words of José Ramón García de la Riva, pastor, at the time, of Barro, Asturias.
The account is worthy of the utmost faith, as the priest in question, a frequent visitor of Garabandal, believed in those apparitions and kept believing, even after the episode at issue.
That's what happened: in 1961 (the priest does not specify the month and day) witnessing an '"ecstasy" of two of the seers, Jacinta and Mari Loli, he noticed that they were faking.
Later he faced them:
- Today you have simulated the last ecstasy!
Immediately Loli, gone as read as a beetroot, hid her face in her hands, keeping elbows on her knees, and exclaimed:
- Ah, into what a mess we got ourselves!
[José Ramón García de la Riva, Memoires d’un curé da campagne espagnol, Chrétien Paviol, Lyon, 1972, p. 95]
Father José Ramón, however, accepted justifications such as that by Conchita, who carelessly wrote in her diary in 1963:
Sometimes [...] we acted as if we were seeing the Virgin and looked [above] until she arrived, in order to stay together. Then our fathers and people followed us. At the end the Virgin appeared. We never feigned entire ecstasies.
[Diario de Conchita, Nuestra Señora del Carmen de Garabandal, New York, 1972, p. 61]
Also in 1961, on July 31, Conchita herself confessed that she had never seen the Madonna and signed a statement in Santander, before a physician, Dr. Pinal, who was appointed by Bishop Doroteo Fernández to question her [cf. R. Pérez, Garabandal. Le village parle, Résiac, 1977, p. 19 and Diario de Conchita, Nuestra Señora del Carmen de Garabandal, 1972, p. 47].
However, in the following days, she, returned to Garabandal, said again she was seeing the Virgin Mary.
There were further developments.
Since 13 September 1962 Mari Cruz also said she had lied [cf. R. Pérez, Garabandal. Le village parle, Résiac, 1977, p. 24].
Later, In January 1963, the other girls confessed that they have never seen Our Lady.
A few months later, however, Conchita wrote in her Diary:
Now Loli and Jacinta have returned to reality, they believe to have seen the Blessed Virgin. Certainly! Why should they not believe?
But Mari Cruz continues to say no, that she did not see the Blessed Virgin.
[Diario de Conchita, Nuestra Señora del Carmen de Garabandal, New York, 1972, p. 72]
Moreover, Conchita said that what happened had been foretold by Our Lady:
At the beginning of the apparitions, the four of us, Loli, Jacinta, Mari Cruz and me, were told by the Blessed Virgin that we would have contradicted each other, our families would not get along well and that we would deny having seen the Virgin and the Angel. We were very surprised - of course! - for her to say all these things. But in January 1963 all of what the Holy Virgin had told us from the beginning happened. First we have contradicted each other and then we have denied having seen the Holy Virgin.
[Ibid., p. 70]
But it is a classical post eventum prophecy: a "prophecy" that Conchita wrote in her diary only after the contradictions and denials at issue had occurred.
After the confession of January 1963 and the subsequent retraction, the girls had no more "apparitions", with the only partial exception of Conchita, who had only four over the next three years (until then they had been estimated at approximately two thousand: cf. J.A. Pelletier, Our Lady Comes to Garabandal, Assumption, 1974, p. 100)
§ 8. A Road with No End
On June 17, 1984 Mari Cruz released an interview with the main Spanish newspaper, El País (Mari Cruz, la testigo que nada vidio, signed by Victor Gijón). We read:
"I've never seen the Virgin at the Pines or any celestial being." [...]
"[Conchita] suddenly went into ecstasy" - recalls Mari Cruz - "that sort of comedy scared us and we thought it would end badly. She put into the heads of the three of us that she had seen the angel." [...]
The environmental pressure to which the young visionaries were subjected was a determining factor for the lengthening, for almost three years, of the gatherings of those who wanted to witness the alleged apparitions. "The people tormented us so that we see the angel and the Virgin, and these fanatics came to write a message, as always happened in other apparitions, like Lourdes or Fatima. [...] Every time I have the occasion, although I don’t look for it, I say it, but they don’t want to hear this truth."
Mari Cruz, interviewed a few years later by Gabriel Carrión López, answered:
I remember perfectly how Conchita, who always used to organize jokes, invented everything. She did it without bad intentions, but the situation became so complicated that we had to go on. [...] Do you believe that the Virgin Mary would do such stupid things? [...]
But I'm afraid to be in the papers, because then they make life impossible for my other, who still lives in the village, and it is full of fanatics.
[Gabriel Carrión López, El lado oscuro de María, Aguaclara, Alicante, 1992, pp. 106-107]
In order to understand the psychological and environmental factors that can be produced in some contexts (as in Medjugorje or Garabandal), of great interest are the words of Father Enrique López Guerrero:
Do you know who opened my eyes? One of the visionaries, the second most important, Mari Loli. I had a conversation with her for three hours, in which she revealed to me the whole truth. They began as if it were a joke and, seeing that people cared so much, they went forward until they began to be alarmed. Gradually they began to doubt if they had seen or had not seen. Until some people arrived who began to submit them to pressure. [...] These people warned them to be careful, if they had not noticed how the people wept, converted, prayed, and sinners asked forgiveness. These people told them that God was doing it through them and, if now they said to have seen nothing, they would be guilty of the conviction of all those souls.
[Ibid., pp. 112-113]
Conchita, Jacinta and Mari Loli (deceased since 2009) have married U.S. citizens and moved overseas, while Mari Cruz, who has married too, remained in Spain. As in the case of the visionaries of Medjugorje, none has embraced the religious life.
§ 9. Final Gleanings...
In the book of R. Pérez, Garabandal. Le village parle (Résiac, 1977), on page 311 the phrase "Garabandal, continuation and amplification of Fatima" is reported, as a title of a chapter. This phrase was coined in 1966 by Father M. Laffineur (author of L'étoile dans la montagne).
In the Eighties, several theologians began to define in the same way ("continuation of Fatima") also Medjugorje.
In the message of August 25, 1991, Our Lady of Medjugorje seems to accept the suggestion, hoping that “with your help everything I wanted to realize through the secrets I began in Fatima may be fulfilled.
Between late July and early August 1961, the Jesuit Father Luis María Andreu visited Garabandal several times where he personally knew the four girls. On August 9, however, he died suddenly.
Conchita wrote in her diary that, a week later, the deceased Father Luis spoke to the four visionaries:
We listened to his voice. It was exactly the one he had on earth.
[Diario de Conchita, Nuestra Señora del Carmen de Garabandal, New York, 1972, p. 58]
Conchita on August 2, 1964, in a letter addressed to Father Ramón María Andreu (who was a Jesuit, he too, brother of the deceased priest), wrote:
On July 18, (1964), I had a locution in which I was told that on the day after the miracle your brother would be removed from his grave and his body would be found intact.
[Joseph A. Pelletier, Our Lady Comes To Garabandal, Assumption, Worcester, 1974, p. 157]
At the beginning of 1976, the Jesuit seminary at Oña (province of Burgos), where Fr. Luis had been a professor of theology and where he was buried, was converted into an asylum, and the bodies of all those buried there were exhumed. It was found at that time that Fr. Luis’s body had been reduced to a skeleton, which was then transferred to the ossuary of the Society of Jesus in Loyola.
[Sandra L. Zimdars-Swartz, Encountering Mary, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1991, p. 229]
The most appropriate way to end the subject of Garabandal is by reporting some other episodes to which Mari Cruz probably was referring when she spoke of “such stupid things”.
An attitude of (fairytale) "familiarity" with the Madonna was typical of Garabandal.
On August 19, 1961 only three of the seers were together:
Mari Cruz had the apparition before us and went to sleep [...]. That night we played hide and seek with the Virgin. Two of us were hiding and two others were looking for us.
Diario de Conchita, Nuestra Señora del Carmen de Garabandal, New York, 1972, pp. 60-61: Esa noche jugamos a los tíos con la Virgen. Nos escondíamos dos de nosotras y otras dos nos encontraban]
The apprehensive Madonna:
[Jacinta] persisted in asking the Virgin to trust her with the Infant Jesus. Apparently, the Virgin answered:
- No, you you will let him fall,
because Jacinta insisted:
- No, no, I will not let him fall.
At the end the Virgin must have acquiesced, because we followed, in the streets of Garabandal, Jacinta who, with her open hands facing upwards, seemed to carry a baby.
I remember that she was taking him very carefully, not to let him fall, as she had promised to the Virgin. Just before the end of the ecstasy, Jacinta said:
- Here, did you see that I did not let him fall?
Then she raised her arms, just like if she was delivering a child to another person.”
[Testimony of Juan Álvarez Seco (Head Sergeant of the Civil Guard) in Ramón Pérez, Garabandal. Le village parle, Résiac, Montsûrs, 1977, p. 287]
The seers of Garabandal claimed that they sometimes had the apparitions suddenly, while they were busy with any activity, and, if they had anything in their hands, their fingers began to strongly tighten (for example, "one day Loli came in ecstasy while screwing a light bulb and no one could take it away from her hands": testimony of Maria González (mother of the seer Jacinta) in R. Pérez, Garabandal. Le village parle, Résiac, 1977, p. 176].
It 's strange to note that their hands were contracted, but their legs, on the contrary, were very agile, and sometimes the girls, while in "ecstasy", walked or ran through the streets of their village of 300 inhabitants.
It is worth reporting some embarrassing episodes:
Conchita came in ecstasy, clutching a monk, and that monk has been forced to run for the duration of the ecstasy, that night! We watched the poor monk running here and there, with his tongue out, he was exhausted! Ah! It made us laugh.
[Testimony of Laura González (inhabitant of Garabandal) in R. Pérez, Garabandal. Le village parle, Résiac, Montsûrs, 1977, p. 142]
One day Conchita was seeking a sheep of hers that was very stubborn and refused to return to the sheepfold. She had just grabbed her, in order to bring her, when she came into ecstasy. And has remained so, with her sheep. We tried in every way, we didn’t succeed in releasing the beast. Therefore, this squirmed as she could. But nothing doing, Conchita didn’t release her.
[Testimony of Simón González (father of the seer Jacinta), ibid., p. 252]
One day my sister Tere was playing ring-a-ring-a-roses with Mari Cruz and she suddenly came into ecstasy as they held on to a finger. Tere shouted, but was unable to free her finger from that of Mari Cruz. [...] The poor Tere was completely sweating and shaking, due to the efforts she was making to try to free herself. [...]
Another time, a village girl named Trini [...] had put her hand into the holy water stoup to get the water. Her fingers touched those of Loli who was performing the same gesture, and Loli went into ecstasy at that very moment. Well, their fingers had only touched themselves! Trini didn’t succeed in freeing herself. She had been forced to follow Loli in her running through the village.
[Testimony of Pascua Cuenca (sister of the visionary Conchita), ibid., pp. 262-263]
Francisco Sánchez Ventura wrote:
Garabandal is far better known outside Spain than within her frontiers. Is this perhaps due to the Church’s attitude? [....] Otherwise, why would the events of Garabandal be so closely followed by Catholics all over the world, while Catholics in Spain remain ignorant, indifferent and silent?
[Francisco Sánchez Ventura y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabandal, San Miguel Publishing, Detroit, 1970, p. 165]
Probably, the Spanish Catholics were better informed.
Updated on 20 June 2014