By Edward Benet
Since the death of Benedict XVI, some people are of the opinion that the prophecies of Garabandal are close to fulfilment. The prophecies refer to a Warning, a Miracle and a possible Chastisement on a global scale (for a summary of the content of the prophecies and an objective assessment of the reliability of the apparitions, see here).
The statement by Conchita that the Miracle would occur on a Thursday in April that coincides with the feast of a male martyr of the Eucharist has caused many people to surmise that the date of the Miracle will be April 13 this year (which falls on a Thursday). Hermengild, a Spanish saint, was beheaded by order of the king on April 13, 585, for refusing to accept the Eucharist from a heretical Arian bishop.
Could 2023 be the year? The visionaries made a number of statements about world events that would coincide with the Warning and the Miracle. Even though certain of these statements seemed extremely implausible a few years ago, in our days they appear to be coming true in striking ways. As such, these events may constitute a “pre-warning” for the Warning itself and the subsequent Miracle.
First pre-warning of the Warning – the Synod on Synodality
Our Lady told Conchita that the prophecies would come to pass at a time when an important synod was being held in the Church. Over the years, many people have been perplexed by this prophecy. Since 1965, the synod of bishops established by Pope Paul VI has met every few years. Seeing that synods have become so commonplace, people wondered how one of these gatherings could be so different that our Lady would use it as a marker to point to the Warning. Evidently, Our Lady could not have been referring to one of these regular gatherings of the synod, but to something more exceptional or unique. What could that be? Suddenly, lo and behold, in these very days, we find ourselves in the midst of a synod of extraordinary character. The Synod on Synodality is the first time that the synod has had a worldwide dimension, with a level of consultation and dialogue never seen before in the history of the Church. The process is already ongoing and will come to an end in the Fall of 2024. Since 1965, there has been no other more likely candidate for the “important synod” that – in the words of Mother Nieves Garcia – would constitute a “pre-Warning” for the major events foretold in Garabandal.
Second pre-warning – the death of Benedict XVI
On June 3, 1963, as Conchita made her way to the church to pray for Pope John XXIII who had just died, she heard the voice of Our Lady said, “After this pope, there are only three left. Then it will be the end of times.” Soon after, the Virgin Mary specified to Conchita that there would also be a fourth pope who would “govern the Church for a very short time”. This last prediction is remarkable because it was fulfilled in the short papacy of John Paul I, thus supporting the reliability of the rest of the prophecy of the popes from Our Lady. In fact, the short pontificate of John Paul I can be taken as a sign that the first affirmation of Our Lady is also true: that after the last pope in the series (Benedict XVI), the end of times will begin.
Regarding the meaning of “end of times”, Fr. José Luis Saavedra remarks that we have no reason to think that there will be no more popes after this time. Rather, the Church will enter the decisive period of her history in which the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph, as foretold at Fatima.
As long as Benedict XVI was alive, we could suppose that the fulfilment of the prophecies still remained at some point in the future. The end times would begin after he was gone. While he was still with us, we could safely assume that the events were some time away. To some people, his death on the very last day of 2022 has taken on an ominous significance. Conchita had heard, “After this pope, then it will be the end of times.” Does Benedict’s demise on the last day of 2022 mean that the “end of times” will begin in 2023? As with prophecies of this sort in general, we have no way of knowing the exact meaning of the words that are used. “Then” might allow for a period of months, or perhaps more than a year, before the events begin. The death of Benedict XVI, however, means that one of the most decisive markers regarding the date of the Warning has already been passed.
Third pre-warning – World Tribulation
The visionaries have stated that the events would occur after a period of world tribulation. Mari-Loli reported that Our Lady had revealed to her that the Warning would occur at a time when “Russia will suddenly and unexpectedly overrun a great part of the free world”. After the fall of the USSR in 1991, many people thought that such a prediction had become farfetched. The sudden invasion of Ukraine last year, as well as threats to other parts of Europe, have brought this prediction to unexpected fulfilment.
In a number of statements, the girls describe the tribulation as involving the “return” of communism. In the 1960s, there was no sign of communism going away anytime soon. In fact, at that point, it was attaining its greatest level of global influence. Thus, the prediction of the girls constitutes in a sense a two-fold prophecy: firstly, that communism will first go away, and, secondly, that it will return. From our point of view in 2023, this makes perfect sense. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s marked the demise of the global leader of communism, the entity that had spread its errors throughout the entire world. This marked a huge blow to the fortunes of global Marxism. However, in the intervening decades, cultural Marxism has made huge inroads into Western society. This is manifested especially by critical race theory, gender ideology and radical feminism. Countries like Ireland have rejected the moral principles of the Bible that were once enshrined in their Christian heritage. In their place, they have wholeheartedly embraced the worldview of cultural Marxism and enacted it in their laws. In a sense, then, it is accurate to say that communism went away to some extent, but has now returned to global prominence in the guise of neo-Marxism.
Other statements by the visionaries include the claim that something would happen before the Warning to cause many people to lose faith in the authenticity of the apparitions at Garabandal. Such an event has already come to pass. On June 18, 2014, the great apostle of Garabandal, Joey Lomagino, died. Even though the day of his death was providentially the exact anniversary of the first apparition in Garabandal in 1961, the fact that he died before the Miracle caused many people to lose faith in the apparitions (for more details on this question, and for possible answers to sceptics, see here).
Other indications that the events are at hand include the prediction by the visionaries that they would occur when churches would be attacked and closed, and the faithful would be prevented from receiving the sacraments. This is something that happened for the first time in history on a global level because of the pandemic. The number of attacks on churches in Western countries such as France and the U.S. has been increasing exponentially in recent years.
Other considerations make people think that the events are still some time in the future. Mari-Loli is reported to have said that the Warning will take place in a year that is an even number, ruling out 2023. In addition, German author, Albrecht Weber, quoted Conchita as saying that the Pope will go to Moscow, and when he returns to the Vatican, hostilities will break out in different parts of Europe as a prelude to the Warning. Given that Pope Francis has not yet travelled to Moscow, the prophesied events may still be some way in the future.
Sometimes, however, in response to human free will, prophecies do not unfold as originally formulated. In December 2021, Pope Francis announced that he intended to visit Moscow in the near future. Preliminary talks to advance that visit were held in the Vatican at the end of 2021 with Bishop Hilarion, the head of the Russian church’s department for external relations. Then, in February 2022, Russian invaded Ukraine. Since then, repeated attempts by the Vatican to resurrect the idea of a papal visit to Moscow have run aground. Could the visionaries’ prophecy regarding Russia’s invasion of parts of Europe after a papal visit be already fulfilled by the fact that Pope Francis was single-mindedly determined to visit Moscow before the onset of hostilities in February 2022? That visit would surely have taken place but for the fact that Patriarch Kirill opposed it. Sometimes the outcome of genuine prophecies is indeed foiled or modified by human free will.
Why these prophecies and why this speculation?
Many people who were once firm adherents to the apparitions in Garabandal have lost faith in recent decades. The delay in the occurrence of the events, the death of Joey Lomangino, and the endless speculation about the date of the Miracle have led to doubt and frustration. Why did Our Lady give so many “clues” about when the events would occur? Or were Conchita and Mari-Loli simply indiscreet when they “spilled the beans” about these details? Has the endless speculation about dates damaged Garabandal?
Perhaps, though, there is a very definite heavenly plan behind these tantalising shreds of evidence. We can be sure that Conchita and Mari-Loli were being obedient instruments of Our Lady in allowing these clues to emerge. The death of Benedict XVI, the ongoing extraordinary synod, the return of communism, the unprecedented hostility to the faith in the West, the warmongering of Russia, the return of communism in the guise of neo-Marxism – all these show clearly that the time of the events is upon us. The remarkable lining up of those very things predicted by the visionaries seemed far-fetched just a few years ago. Whether the events occur in 2023, 2024 or in the coming years, we can be confident that our time of preparation is now relatively short. This gives us precious motivation to prepare for the Warning with the very tools that have been central to the message of Garabandal since the 1960s: increased personal prayer, Eucharistic devotion and recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
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