Warning, Miracle & Chastisement
Garabandal, Spain


Apparitions at Garabandal

On June 18, 1961, four young girls decided to pilfer apples from the schoolmaster's tree. After scrambling over a wall with their pockets filled with fruit, the girls headed toward the "sunken lane" where they could enjoy their booty in peace. After hearing the sound of thunder rolling through the mountains, the girls experienced their first pangs of remorse and decided to throw stones at the devil.1

All of a sudden, one of the girls named Conchita saw an entity in the distance surrounded by a great light. When her friends, Maria-Cruz, Jacinta, and Mary Loly, noticed that something was happening to her, they assumed she was being attacked. Mary Loly had already risen to her feet to fetch help when Conchita said, "Look! Over there!" After the girls turned to look, the entity vanished into thin air.2

Because the girls were frightened by the vision, they ran back to town, huddled in a corner behind the church, and started to cry. Other children noticed them and asked what was wrong. Soon the schoolmistress arrived, and the girls described their encounter with this being by saying, "He was wearing a long seamless blue robe. He had fairly big pink wings. He looked about nine years old." After saying a decade of the Rosary with the schoolmistress, the girls returned home to be scolded by their parents for being out past nine o'clock at night.3

The next day, news spread through the village like wildfire. The townspeople were wondering why an angel would make an appearance in San Sebastian de Garabandal. Others were commenting on how frightened the girls appeared. That afternoon, several adults accompanied the girls to the sunken lane to pray the Rosary, and along with them were some youngsters who began telling jokes and laughing at the girls. After waiting a long time for an angel to appear, the group turned back to town disheartened. Later that evening the girls were encouraged by the schoolmistress who said, "Don't worry, he'll come tomorrow."4

The next day, the girls meet at the sunken lane to pray the Rosary in an attempt to invoke an appearance from the supernatural. After praying the Rosary, the girls got up to leave when they saw a shining light blocking the path. Blinded by the light, the children were disorientated, and according to Conchita's diary, "gave a scream of horror."5

A few days later, the children returned to the lane to invoke another supernatural encounter by saying the Rosary along with several women from the village who also accompanied them. After praying five decades, nothing happened. The onlookers started to make wisecracks when the girls decided to say another decade, this time "amid a certain amount of sniggering." When the decade ended, the four girls were suddenly frozen with their heads thrown back in an unnatural angle. As the girls stared toward the heavens, the onlookers were "gripped by a sudden fear of the supernatural."6

After the rapture, the four girls emerged from the experience appearing quite normal and smiling. The townspeople who had accompanied them to the site were overjoyed. They started hugging and kissing the girls, proclaiming, "It's true. An angel really has appeared to these little ones." Soon after, the girls were promoted to celebrity status among the town's residents.

It wasn't long before large crowds began gathering to pray the Rosary in an attempt to invoke an appearance from the Blessed Virgin Mary. During the Rosary vigils, the girls would fall into a state of ecstasy on a regular basis. Sometimes the girls would fall over backward; other times their heads would tilt upward as their attention was firmly fixed upon the Virgin's presence. On one occasion, Mary Loly fell over and hit her head on a concrete step. After the rapture, the bystanders asked her if she felt anything, but the young girl could "recall nothing."7

The townspeople tried testing the girls by pinching them, but nothing could break the spell during the apparition. During the ecstasy, the girls seemed to be impervious to pain, pinpricks, and burns. On one occasion, two men tried picking one of the girls up off the ground and were not able to do so. Several medical doctors also examined the girls during the apparitions and have testified that some type of mystical phenomenon was occurring outside of the girls' influence or control.8

As word spread about the Virgin's appearance, thousands of visitors began flocking to the tiny village. The pilgrims would conduct Rosary vigils in an attempt to invoke supernatural signs and wonders. The more the Virgin Mary was invoked, the more supernatural phenomena occurred. The hypnotic state of ecstasy would come upon the girls at all hours of the day and night. In these hypnotic states the girls would even appear to levitate. They would be lying on the ground with the top half of their bodies hovering in midair. Other times the girls would go on ecstasy walks, both forward and backward, usually with a crowd of people following them and taking pictures.9

On September 7, 1961, the Bishop's office released a statement declaring, "Nothing so far obliges us to affirm the supernatural origin of the events that have occurred there." In light of this situation the Bishop's office stated, "It is our desire that priests, be they of this or any other diocese, and members of the clergy of both sexes, even independent clergy, should for the time being abstain from going to San Sebastian de Garabandal. Until such time as the ecclesiastical authorities pass final judgment on this matter, we advise the faithful to try not to go to the said village."10

This statement naturally caused a great deal of discord among the faithful. Those who witnessed the girls in ecstasy could testify that something paranormal was occurring. Because the girls seemed happy, and all their devotions were focused on the Virgin Mary, the apparitions seemed to be coming from heavenly sources. Unfortunately, what most people fail to understand is that when the sin of idolatry is committed (with or without the Rosary) by invoking supernatural signs and wonders from unknown spiritual entities, fallen angels have the right to interfere with the participants.

This same kind of situation occurs every day in voodoo ceremonies. When a witch doctor gathers a crowd together to invoke supernatural signs and wonders from unknown spiritual entities, a "Loa" spirit usually enters into one or more of the participants. Once the Loa spirit places a person in a state of ecstasy, the possessed person appears to fall into a type of trance. Once in this state, the person can deliver messages from the spirit realm, talk with a different voice, and even go on ecstasy walks, both forward and backward.11

After the Loa spirit departs from the person, the individual who has encountered the state of ecstasy appears to be fine. The person usually returns from the rapture feeling more enlightened and spiritually charged. Other times the person can't remember what happened. During the ecstasy the participant can display supernatural powers, signs, and wonders, but the question still remains; are these supernatural powers coming from God, or are they coming from demonic sources?

The Bishop of Santander, Jose Vilaplaua, reissued a statement of non constat de non supernaturalitate concerning the alleged apparitions at Garabandal as follows:

 

Statement by Bishop Msgr. Jose Vilaplaua of Santander
on alleged apparitions at Garabandal
Diocese of Santander

Some people have been coming directly to the Diocese of Santander (Spain) asking about the "alleged apparitions" of Garabandal, and above all for the position of the hierarchy of the Church concerning these apparitions.

I must communicate that:

1. All the bishops of the diocese from 1961 through 1970 asserted that the supernatural character of the said apparitions, that took place around that time, could not be confirmed.

2. In the month of December of 1977 Msgr. del Val, Bishop of Santander, in union with his predecessors, affirmed that in the six years of being Bishop of Santander there were no new phenomena.

3. Not withstanding, the same Msgr. del Val, the first years having passed in which there was confusion to enthusiasm, initiated an interdisciplinary study in order to examine with greater profundity these phenomenon. The conclusion of this study coincided with the previous findings by the bishops, which is to say, that it does not prove the supernaturality of said apparitions.

4. This study concluded during the days in which I took possession of the diocese in 1991. Taking advantage, in that same year, of a trip to Rome for the motive of making the ad limina visit, I presented said study to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and asked for guidance for pastoral activity concerning the case.

5. On Nov. 28, 1992, the Congregation sent me its response, consisting in, that after having examined attentively the mentioned documentation, it did not consider it opportune to intervene directly, removing the ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Santander, this subject that belongs to him by right. Previous declarations of the Holy See agree in this finding.

In the same letter it was suggested, if I find it opportune, to publish a declaration in which it is re-affirmed that the supernaturality of the referenced apparitions was not proven, making my own the unanimous position of my predecessors.

6. Given that the declarations of my predecessors, who studied the case, have been clear and unanimous, I do not find it necessary to have a new public declaration that would give notoriety to something which happened so long ago. However, I find it opportune to redact this information as a direct response to the persons who ask for direction concerning this question, which I give finally, accepting the decisions of my predecessors and the direction of the Holy See.

7. In reference to the celebration of the Eucharist in Garabandal, following the dispositions of my predecessors, I only allow that it be celebrated in the parish church without reference to the alleged apparitions and with the permission of the current pastor, who has my confidence.

With the wish that this information is helpful to you, receive my cordial greeting in Christ,

Jose Vilaplana, Bishop of Santander

 

Notes

For more information please visit Apparition Reviews.

  1. F. Sanchez-Ventura Y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabandal, (Detroit, Michigan: San Miguel Publishing Company, 1966) p. 32.
  2. F. Sanchez-Ventura Y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabanda, P. 34.
  3. F. Sanchez-Ventura Y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabanda, P. 35.
  4. F. Sanchez-Ventura Y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabanda, P. 39.
  5. F. Sanchez-Ventura Y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabanda, P. 41.
  6. F. Sanchez-Ventura Y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabanda, P. 42-43.
  7. F. Sanchez-Ventura Y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabanda, P. 44.
  8. F. Sanchez-Ventura Y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabanda, P. 44-45.
  9. F. Sanchez-Ventura Y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabanda, P. 71.
  10. F. Sanchez-Ventura Y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabanda, P. 147.
  11. National Geographic News article by Sharon Guynup entitled, "Haiti: Possessed by Voodoo."  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0707_040707_tvtaboovoodoo.html
    View a PDF version of the National Geographic News article entitled, "Haiti: Possessed by Voodoo"
  12. Statement by Bishop Msgr. Jose Vilaplaua of Santander concerning the alleged apparitions at Garabandal: http://www.ewtn.com/library/BISHOPS/GARABAND.HTM