By Juan Hervás*
* (the English translation from the original Spanish article has been slightly corrected)
It has been 57 years since the beginning of the apparitions of Garabandal and the visionaries are now almost 70 years old. For many of those who believed in these apparitions of Our Lady, too much time has passed without the prophetic part of them, that is to say the Warning and the Miracle, having taken place and they are beginning to be overcome with discouragement. Some think that they will no longer happen and consequently Garabandal is false. For others, well aware of the supernatural manifestations that took place there, they are beginning to separate the prophetic part from the two messages to the world that the Virgin gave. Some of the latter even believe that heaven has cancelled the announced miracle because the world does not deserve it, forgetting that miracles are gifts of God’s mercy and not given for our merits.
Among the followers of the Garabandal apparitions the issue of knowing when the Warning and the Miracle will occur is central, and in many cases it has supplanted the fulfilment of the requests made by the Virgin in her messages, which were a call to conversion and penance for our sins.
However, the danger of dedicating oneself to guessing the date of an event prophesied in an apparition is not only not to guess it but also to lead many people to not believe in them. And that is what is happening in a certain way with the appearances of Garabandal. It is one of the tricks of the enemy, the ancient serpent, which works actively to ensure that people do not believe in Garabandal and thereby lose all the graces that the Virgin pours in this place.
For all this I think it is time to review the reasons we have for continuing to believe in the apparitions of Garabandal and that everything prophesied there will happen, when God has planned it to happen. Here are some of these reasons to believe.
The supernatural manifestations in the apparitions of Garabandal
The supernatural manifestations in the girls during the apparitions of Garabandal are so impressive that they make them unique in the history of the Marian apparitions, and the Virgin must have manifested herself in this way for something.
These manifestations have already been widely described: levitations, falls and displacements against the laws of gravity, ecstatic marches back and forth at inexplicable speeds, unexplained weight gain during trance, cutaneous and ocular insensitivity, hierognosis, reading of consciences and thoughts, etc. There is no scientific explanation for all these phenomena.
That the Virgin gave such a number of proofs of her presence was because of the importance of the message to the world that she was going to give in Garabandal, but also so that we would not doubt that she appeared there when the girls denied it during a time of confusion that the Virgin herself announced in advance.
The appearances of Garabandal were not short-lived encounters in which the Virgin communicated to the girls a secret or a personal message or a message for the world. In the words of Pope Paul VI: “Garabandal is like a second life of the Virgin on earth and there are no words to thank her.” Indeed there are no words to thank that the Blessed Virgin appeared more than 2000 times in Garabandal from 1961 to 1965. Sometimes she did it for hours, in which she taught them to pray, to behave being good and obedient, and even participated in their games; she visited the sick with them or took them to pray in the cemetery and especially to visit her Son in the Church. In short, the Virgin was educating them especially in the truths of the faith and gave them knowledge of a multitude of questions. And, as a good mother, she cared about everything about them and all their town neighbours or strangers. And she gave them a visible sign that this came from heaven: the “little miracle” of Conchita’s visible communion.
But little by little the Virgin prepared the girls to receive some serious warnings for the world: the two messages and the eschatological prophecies of the Warning, the Miracle and the Chastisement. The prophecies are eschatological because the Virgin in Garabandal tells Conchita that after Pope John XXIII there will be three more popes and after them the end of the times. If this end of the times is that referred to in the scriptures it is not the end of the world.
The two messages to the world and the eschatological prophecies of the Warning, Miracle and Chastisement
The two messages to the world and the prophecies of the Warning, the Miracle and the Chastisement, constitute the central and inseparable base of the appearances of Garabandal. If we analyze how the apparitions of Garabandal were developed for about 5 years we will see clearly that there is a complete unity between message and prophecy. There is no basis for saying that the messages are true and the prophecies of the Warning and the Miracle are not or have been cancelled because we do not deserve them.
The two messages to the world are clear and simple so that the girls could understand, especially the first of them received by all the seers in the first days of the apparitions of the Virgin in particular on July 4, 1961. However, the first message was not announced until October 18, 1961, time that the Virgin used to teach them its meaning. In it she tells us that the sin of the world is filling the cup of iniquity, and exhorts us to be good and do penance and sacrifices for our sins, to pray and frequently visit the Blessed Sacrament, remembering that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. And if we do not do it, we will suffer a very big chastisement.
The second message, given by Saint Michael the Archangel to Conchita on behalf of the Virgin on June 18, 1965, reminds us that the first message has been ignored and has not been made known, the situation in the world now being a lot worse. The sin of the world already overflows the cup with which God measures it (the cup of God’s wrath). The loss of faith, apostasy, makes us give less importance to the Eucharist, and many consecrated persons go down the road to perdition, taking many souls with them. She warns us to repent, ask forgiveness and amend our lives, that these are the last warnings; we must strive to avoid the wrath of God, ask for help (to pray) and they will come to our aid; make sacrifices and meditate on the passion of the Lord.
The message of the Virgin in Garabandal is, in the words of Conchita, “a message of sacrifices, of prayer, of penance, of visits to the Blessed Sacrament”, in short, she summarizes it as “a message of salvation”.
In conclusion, the picture of the state of the world and of the Church that describes the messages of Garabandal has been completely true since they were announced, both in the loss of faith and in the moral degradation of the consecrated. The words of the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Bishop Joao Pereira Venancio, are confirmed: “The message given by the Blessed Virgin Mary in Garabandal is the same as it was given in Fatima but adapted to our time. The Blessed Virgin could not say at Fatima in 1917 about the crisis of the Priesthood and the doctrinal crisis, especially the Eucharist, because there were no such crises at that time, so she said it clearly later in Garabandal. ”
Only the punishment of God to the world for its iniquity remains to be fulfilled of these two messages. Indeed, the threat of a punishment to this apostate world is a warning given in the two messages of Garabandal, and in the visions that the girls had on June 19 and 20, 1962, during the “night of the screams”. In relation to the punishment it seems that all the visionaries saw it on those two nights. Although Conchita was not there the first day because she was sick, she was present the second day. Its nature was terrible and could correspond to the Day of the Lord of the Scriptures. Mari Loli says the following about the chastisement: “Oh, it was terrible to see! We were totally horrified. I cannot find words to explain it. We saw the water in the rivers turning to blood. Fire that fell from the sky … It was like a movie in which we could see everyone and everyone running, screaming, pushing, hitting, and finding nothing but fire everywhere. People ran to the sea, but also the water burned … “. Before, in La Salette, in 1846, the Virgin already spoke of a great chastisement in which fire would fall from the sky; and a few years after Garabandal, in Akita (Japan), in 1973, the Virgin returns to speak of a punishment to the world in similar terms: “If men do not repent and improve, the Father will send a terrible punishment to all mankind. It will be a greater punishment than the flood, something never seen. Fire will fall from heaven and will eliminate much of mankind both good and bad, without exception of priests or faithful. The survivors will be so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only weapons left will be the rosary and the sign left by my Son. ”
God has always announced to the world in advance the punishments to which its wickedness leads, but we also see in history that these punishments are conditional on our conversion response, as happened with Nineveh when God sent Jonah to warn them that the city would be destroyed for their sins, something that finally did not happen because of the conversion and penance of the Ninevites.
To avoid the punishment announced in Garabandal the Virgin tells us that God will send two events to the world, the Warning and the Miracle, which will close the mercy of God before his judgment and eventual punishment if we do not convert. In Garabandal it is said that the Warning and the Miracle will coincide with a great tribulation that could correspond to that described in the Scriptures preceding the Second Coming of the Lord. In this regard Conchita said: “The Blessed Virgin has spoken to us several times that her Son Jesus returns again but I do not know when he will come”.
If the end of the times spoken by the Virgin in Garabandal corresponded to the one announced in the Scriptures as the time in which the antichrist appears and the abolition of the perpetual sacrifice occurs, then this period will end with the judgment of the Gentile nations, the day of Yahweh or the Day of the Lord, the conversion of the Jews, the second coming of Christ and the Era of Peace. This coming of the Lord will probably be “an intermediate coming in spirit and in power” of which Saint Bernard of Clairvaux speaks, and not the parousia of the end of the world where the Lord returns in glory and majesty to judge it.
In relation to the prophecies of the Warning and the Miracle it should be noted that although their announcement and the details were initially exposed by Conchita, she is not the only seer to whom the Virgin announced them.
The Warning, an event widely described by Our Lady to Conchita, Jacinta and Mari Loli, will be an act of God’s mercy on the world, which will lead each person to know the state of his soul in the eyes of God, in order to change the conscience of the world and convert it. There are precedents in the history of the Church of Blesseds and Saints who have experienced this trial in small measure, similar to that at the time of death, such as those described among others by Blessed Ana Maria Taigi or Sister Faustina Kowalska. However, the Warning reported in Garabandal will have global dimensions and will be accompanied by a kind of astrophysical phenomenon that will cause widespread panic. It will have an aspect of punishment to the world but in which nobody will die unless for the fear that it will cause or the state of desperation to see the state of their soul. However, the Warning, in the words of Conchita, despite being something very fearful, will lead us to love God more and have a holy fear of God.
On the Warning, Mari Loli knew in addition to its nature the year in which it was going to happen. It is not known when the Virgin spoke of the Warning to Jacinta and Mari Loli, but given how these two visionaries talked about the Warning in the 70s, after the apparitions of Our Lady had finished, she must have given them ample information about it. Some think that on the night of the screams the Virgin could make them see the great tribulation, the Warning and the Chastisement, although the first public notice about the Warning was made by Conchita after the appearance of January 1, 1965, when she said that “God is going to send an extraordinary warning that will be seen by all the men of all the countries of the world “.
In relation to the miracle Ramón Pérez says that Conchita spoke about it for the first time on September 9, 1962. In Maximina’s kitchen, in the presence of several people, Conchita said: “Well, yes, there will be a miracle. The Virgin told me and it will be very big. I do not know when it will take place. Everyone who is here will see it. And the Pope will see it from wherever he is. And also Padre Pio. ” In relation to Mari Loli she also heard the Virgin say that there will be a Miracle and that it will be in the period of one year since the Warning occurs. To the questions that Jacinta asks the Virgin about the miracle she does not answer her or say “they will believe”.
In short, the Warning and the Miracle that we’re announced in Garabandal is not something that comes exclusively from Conchita, the most important of the seers of Garabandal. Of course, Conchita is the only one who received information regarding the Miracle –she also says it will be a manifestation of God’s love- and when it will happen as she knows the day, month and year of this event that will probably close the stage of the divine mercy that was open for the world with the Warning. In relation to the delay in its arrival, there are witnesses that the girl said to the Virgin: “And will it be so late?” This indicates that the miracle was not going to be something close to the apparitions but very distant. Conchita in this regard said in 1965: “The miracle will not be long in coming. Although it is delaying, God’s time is always the most appropriate”.
Serafín González, Conchita’s brother, said publicly -and he personally said it to me too- that his sister had told him that there would be an ecclesiastical event after which he knew that the miracle would come. However, he did not know the date of the miracle, although his sister according to him did know it.
Denials of the visionaries of Garabandal
Denials occupy an important chapter in the history of Garabandal and were already announced by the Virgin the first year of the apparitions. Conchita told it to her aunt Maximina two months after the onset of the apparitions, and Father Garcia de la Riva says that he himself heard Mari Loli tell in ecstasy: “How are we going to say that we have not seen you if we are seeing you?”. For the theologians expert in mysticism these negations do not constitute evidence against the apparitions because it is a frequent phenomenon in the history of mysticism and happened to Saint Teresa of Jesus, Catherine Labouré (of the Miraculous Medal), Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes, Therese of Lisieux, Gemma Galgani, or Lucia of Fatima among others.
As Father Saavedra relates in his doctoral thesis on Garabandal, the theologian Felix Ochayta who had access to the writings of the girls’ denials says about them: “Those denials were not absolute, nor were they given in propitious circumstances, but in moments of doubts, fears and pressures from people with authority “. It was to doubt and not to doubt at the same time, as Santiago Lanús says, a confusion like the one that the Church was suffering as the Virgin said. As Ramón Pérez says, in Garabandal it would be fairer to speak of doubts and confusion rather than denials: that is, a form of spiritual night.
Mari Cruz, whose last apparition was on September 12, 1962, began to deny them very soon afterwards and apparently both the cessation of the appearances and the denials were influenced by the contrary attitude of her parents about them. It is well known that this girl was strongly repressed especially by her mother.
In the other three seers there are two phases in the doubts and denials. The first one occurred in the month of January 1963 and they were doubtful of having seen the Angel and the Virgin although they were aware that they had seen them and then they disappeared within a short time. The second phase of doubts and denials took place in 1966 when there were no apparitions and they were more intense. It is evident that they were triggered by the numerous pressures or threats they received from the new parish priest of Garabandal (José Olano) and especially from the bishop of Santander. Conchita was the girl who suffered the most pressure and in her interrogation of seven hours by the bishop and his assistants in the Pamplona School in 1966 she was threatened in the following terms: “Conchita, if you do not sign that you have not seen the Virgin we will take you to an insane asylum and your family to jail”. Jacinta was threatened with excommunication:” We will excommunicate you, so you can not be buried in the holy field but outside of it like a dog and you will not enter heaven”. To the children of Fatima the civil authority threatened to put them in boiling oil, and they thought that if they did they would die and go to heaven. For the girls of Garabandal, the threat came from the Church and its representatives, whom they admired so much. This was worse than threatening them with death, since they had taught them since childhood that the worst thing that could happen to a person was not to go to heaven.
Shortly after these denials of 1966 before the Bishop of Santander, Jacinta, Mari Loli and Conchita retracted these denials; the first one to do so and in writing was Jacinta and then the others. All the visionaries finally reaffirmed the veracity of their visions, including Mari Cruz as we will see.
Mari Cruz denied until 1970, then kept silent until her public rectification in 2005 in a written questionnaire presented by Mother María Nieves García where she gave the reasons for her denials: the opposition of her parents and her mother’s illness for not accepting her visions. Mari Cruz has therefore reaffirmed the veracity of her visions and feels sorry for ever having denied them.
Jacinta was the seer who had less doubts and as she said: “if the others did not see I should not have seen either”. Jacinta has lived her whole life confirming her apparitions and especially the impression that the vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus had on her two days before the first apparition of the Virgin.
Mari Loli also retracted the denials but her doubts remained until almost a month before her death in 2009. As Maria Saraco says, the American woman who took her to the United States and with whom she lived until her wedding, Mari Loli suffered a lot throughout her life, not only as a result of the terrible illness that she suffered for so many years (Lupus) but also because of the doubts of having seen the Virgin or not, and of what the Virgin herself told her in a locution. To a question of Maria Saraco on the doubts she answered her: “ I know I had a locution at the school at Zaragoza and was told that I was going to suffer a lot and one of the things that would make me suffer was that I was going to forget everything about seeing The Blessed Mother. I don’t know how long after that it actually happened”. In the mind of Mari Loli, therefore, there came the images and the words of the Virgin, but at the same time the doubt of whether or not they had been real.
On the website of María Saraco (http://www.garabandal.org/News/Maria_Rosati_Letter.shtml) there appears some statements of the daughter of Mari Loli describing how the doubts of her mother disappeared a few weeks before her death. For its interest I will reproduce below the words of Maria Rosati, daughter of Mari Loli, in which she says “the cloud of doubt was raised for her mother and that before her death she remembered and believed with certainty in what had happened to her “:
“I remember that on this particular day, it was no different. We were chatting about nothing very important while I was sitting on an ottoman in front of her, and that my sister, Melanie, was standing up in the doorframe when my mother’s head snapped up and she let out a light sigh, a slight gasp and her eyes opened wide like she had been struck with an awareness. And then with a look of incredulity as if she had never considered the events before, she said to me:
“Can you believe THE BLESSED MOTHER
let me hold the Baby Jesus and Her Crown!”
I was stunned when her eyes met mine, and then a few moments later she seemed to relax a bit, and she began to look almost self-conscious as I had seen her do in the past when she would be asked about the apparitions.
I did not press her more, since she seemed shy about what had just occurred. It would be a few months later that my mother would address the apparitions to me once again.
My mother’s disease had progressed to such an extent at this point that she was lying in the bed since she was in incredible pain. It was only about three weeks before she would pass away. This time, she placed her hand atop of mine, and looked me in the eyes, and asked me:
“Why do you think THE BLESSED MOTHER
would let me hold The Baby Jesus and Her Crown?”
I share these words from my mother with you, in the case that this benefits someone’s heart in that this knowledge would increase their faith in THE MESSAGES OF OUR LADY OF GARABANDAL, in the understanding that Mari-Loli’s “cloud of doubt” was lifted and that she did remember, and did believe with certainty in what had happened to her before she died.”
Conchita was the first to see Saint Michael the Archangel on June 18, 1961, and the only seer to have apparitions during the last two years, the last one on November 13, 1965. Conchita’s denials were brief in time and the pressure on her from the local ecclesiastical hierarchy was greater than the rest of the girls, leading her to deny and not deny at the same time, even signing a blank paper statement! Conchita, once freed from these pressures, has had no doubts and has maintained the veracity of her visions to this day.
Every true apparition has negative aspects or stumbling stones.
The apparitions of Garabandal follow the pattern of other true appearances with prophetic aspects, such as La Salette or Fatima. It is logical that until the prophecies are not fulfilled the doubt remains whether everything announced in the apparition comes from heaven or not. However, in all true apparitions we can find aspects that a priori seem negative and that constitute a stumbling stone to belief in them. They are trials placed or permitted by heaven to measure our faith. Indeed, the Marian apparitions are not dogmas of faith in the Church. Even when the Church approves an apparition, no one is forced to believe in it. And since there must be a component of faith in the one who receives them, heaven often allows obstacles on the way to test us. If we manage not to trip over them, the graces that are spilled on us are extraordinary.
There are several stumbling stones in the apparitions of Garabandal, but in my opinion they are all minor. Most of them come from the locutions that Conchita had, which are used by the detractors of Garabandal.
Locutions are a form of communication of heaven with man, one of the many ways of communication used by God with his creatures. It is not an unusual phenomenon in the life of the Church and is well described in the manuals of spiritual theology. Saint John of the Cross in “Ascent to Mount Carmel” calls locutions, or formal supernatural words, to those different words that the spirit receives, not from himself, but from another person, sometimes being recollected in prayer and sometimes not. These words are very clear, noted by the person who receives them as if born from the heart and that together form a message. This call usually comes unexpectedly, being the Lord, the Virgin, the Angels or the Saints who have the initiative of the moment and the content of the message.
To delve into the diverse types of locutions described by the masters of mysticism and the possibility of them being erroneous or illusions does not help us at all to determine which locutions of Conchita could be inaccurate. I believe that in some of them it is not possible to know the truth until time has passed and all the events can be seen in hindsight. For example, Joe Lomangino, the blind American, had to see the miracle and that day would have new eyes, but Joe died on June 18, 2014, curiously the day of the month in which the first apparition of Saint Michael occurred in Garabandal. Many stopped believing in Garabandal with the death of Lomangino, but others saw as a possible interpretation that he would see it with the new eyes of the spirit. Another stumbling stone could be that of Father Luis Maria Andreu, the so-called fifth visionary of Garabandal, who died after apparently entering into ecstasy during one of the apparitions to the girls. Conchita said that he would be found incorrupt the day after the miracle. It is known that today he lies in an ossuary in the cemetery of the Jesuits of Loyola. In this regard, today there is evidence that he is not incorrupt but we cannot discard this announcement completely until that day because for God nothing is impossible.
The announcement that after Pope John XXIII there would be three more popes and then the end of the times was given to Conchita in an apparition and commented again in others. The question of the Popes does not seem an important stumbling stone if we take the words as they were said, therefore with Benedict XVI we have entered the end of the times and we will probably understand it later.
After analyzing various aspects of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin in San Sebastian de Garabandal, we can see that the reasons to believe today in these apparitions are very numerous. The situation of the current ecclesiastical judgment is “Non-constat de supernaturalitate” which means that the supernatural origin has not been established and it is open to new evaluations. The local Church allows worship in this locality and there is no express prohibition to talk about these apparitions. Likewise, all the visionaries – including Mari Cruz – reaffirmed their visions and have led ordered and pious lives and have been obedient to what the Bishop of Santander has indicated. The fruits of these apparitions in terms of conversions and miracles during the 53 years since the end of them are very numerous, and the devotees to Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Garabandal now spread across the five continents. An important number of blessed and contemporary saints believed in the apparitions of Garabandal (Padre Pio, Teresa of Calcutta, Paul VI, John Paul II, Mother Maravillas of Jesus, Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Mother Esperanza, etc.) and they support us to also believe in these apparitions and go to Garabandal to receive the graces of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God and Our Mother.