Interior Calls Precede Ecstatic Raptures
The total number of apparitions of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Garabandal exceeded two thousand between July 2, 1961 and November 13,1965.
The ecstasies were preceded by three interior calls, each one more intense than the last. After the third summons the children ran to the place where they were to see the vision and abruptly fell to their knees entranced; heads thrown back, faces upturned with pupils dilated.
Their countenances shone with an unearthly beauty more luminous than the photographs of the time could capture.
“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 the vision and each other. They were unresponsive to pin pricks, being burned by the tips of hot matches and blinding lights aimed directly into their eyes.
While the girls moved gracefully in ecstasy, examiners found them rigid and were unable to turn their heads or change the position of their limbs.
The perceived weight of the visionaries changed so that two men could not lift one 12-year-old off the ground while the children were able to lift each other with ease to offer kisses to the Virgin.
Breathtaking Ecstatic Falls
August of 1961 introduced a new type of phenomena. As the girls knelt in ecstasy, they would rapidly tilt backwards until their heads reached the ground behind them. They fell slowly in perfect synchronization forming beautiful sculptures, their clothing never immodestly ruffled. At other times they suddenly fell backwards hitting the floor to the surprise of onlookers, but they were never hurt and would rise up without the use of their hands or arms.
Ecstatic Marches Defy Natural Laws
At this time, the girls also began to walk about in ecstasy through the entire village, their eyes fixed above. Given the position of their heads and the direction of their gaze they were unable to see where they were going as they traversed the rock strewn paths often in complete darkness.
Sometimes they moved with such swiftness that even the young men of the village running at top speed could not keep up. Afterwards they were neither fatigued nor perspiring. Their pulse rates were normal. During these ecstatic flights, they were able to come to a dead stop – seeming to defy the laws of physics – as those trying to follow were carried by momentum right past them.
At the Virgin’s indication, the visionaries would offer a crucifix for veneration to those around them. The children were not aware of the identity of the person kissing the crucifix. After one notable ecstasy, it came to be known that everyone to whom Conchita had just offered the crucifix was a priest dressed in ordinary clothes.
The Vision Kisses Religious Objects
To amuse the Infant Jesus, the girls offered Him small stones. Taking these pebbles, Our Lady kissed them and told the girls to give them to certain persons in the crowd.
When the spectators heard this they gave over their rosaries and medals as more suitable to offer to the Virgin. The practice became a custom and continued throughout the apparitions.
People often gave religious articles to the girls through a third person, or placed them on a table set aside for this purpose in the visionaries homes when they were not present. There was no way for the girls to know to whom each of the articles belonged, yet they never made a mistake in the thousands of times in ecstasy they returned religious articles to the rightful owners.
“Through the kiss I have bestowed on these objects, my Son will perform prodigies.” – Our Lady to Conchita, November 13, 1965
Among the priests who went up to Garabandal to study the events was Jesuit Father Luis Andreu. He was a brilliant young theology professor who had the reputation for being a very holy priest. Father Andreu was reserved on his first visit but after closely studying the girls in ecstasy he concluded something truly profound was happening.
On August 8, 1961, Father Andreu made another visit to the village.
That night he was observing the girls in ecstasy when he became visibly tense, tears filling his eyes, and 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.” – Witness 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.
Father Andreu had died, most peacefully, in a state of holy joy.
Later, Our Lady told the children that on the Eighth of August, Father Andreu had been permitted to share in their vision and had been witness in ecstasy to the Great Miracle set to occur at Garabandal in the future.
THE FIRST MESSAGE
October 18, 1961 arrived, the day the girls were to announce the much anticipated message from the Blessed Virgin. It was a day of apocalyptic overtones with thunder and lightning, cold gusts and rain. At least three thousand made the sacrifice to be there on this singular day, but as the hours went past and the weather worsened many left.
That evening, the Message was read aloud at the Pines to the crowd that 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.
All of the extraordinary supernatural phenomena of the past months had been accomplished in order to emphasize the importance of this Message in the same way the miracles of Jesus Christ established the authority of His words.
In this Message, Our Lady of Mount Carmel both announces a divine chastisement and the four means by which that chastisement may be averted:
1) Making Sacrifices
2) Performing Penance
3) Leading Good Lives
4) Visiting the Blessed Sacrament frequently
Our Lady requested her Message be made known throughout the world and the visionaries began in a most humble way to recruit others to help them accomplish this mission.