San Sebastian de Garabandal is a village in Spain, located
90 kilometers from Santander, where beginning in 1961 four
young girls claimed to see apparitions of the Virgin Mary. In
July 1961 Maria Cruz Gonzalez, Jacinta Gonzalez, Mari Loli
Mazon, and Maria Conception (known as Conchita) Gonzales,
ages 11 and 12, astonished villagers by declaring that an angel
had appeared to them, followed by an apparition of the virgin.
These visions came several times in a week, when the girls went
into trance, oblivious to the crowds surrounding them. Afterward
they said they were talking to the Blessed Mother, the Virgin
Mary. In the course of time, their trances were witnessed
and recorded by priests and psychologists, even filmed. When
the girls were pricked with pins and bright lights flashed in
their faces they did not respond.
In October 1961 the message from the Virgin Mary was that
they had been chosen to receive a message for the world ‘‘We
must make many sacrifices, perform much penance and visit
the Blessed Sacrament frequently, but first we must lead good
lives. The cup is already filling up and if we do not change, a
very great chastisement will come up on us.’’
During such visions the girls were shown part of the chastisement
threatened to the world, and they screamed in terror.
The visions continued until 1965, when Conchita was 15 years
old. Conchita asked the Virgin Mary to send proof that these
visions were truly from God and was told that a great miracle
would take place. Conchita reported,
‘‘The only thing I can tell is that it’s going to be something
that will happen in my village. . . . [T]he people who are sick
are going to be cured. The day after there is going to be a sign
in the pine trees . . . something we can see is gonna be there
for ever.’’ This miracle was to be announced eight days in advance.
By this time Conchita was the only one of the four girls to
continue to see visions, and early in 1965 she stated that she
was to receive a second worldwide message. It came late at
night on June 18 before a large, expectant crowd. The following
morning Conchita stated that the message was similar to
the earlier one but much stronger
‘‘Before the cup was filling up, now it is flowing over. Many
cardinals, many bishops, and many priests are on the road to
perdition and taking many souls with them. I, your Mother, ask
you to amend your lives. You are now receiving the last warnings.
I love you very much and do not want your condemnation.
You should make more sacrifices, think about the passion of
By November 1965 the visions ceased entirely, but Conchita
was constantly pressed to reveal the date of the promised miracle,
known only to her. Then quite suddenly Conchita lost faith
in her visions, feeling it was all a dream. The village priest sent
her to the bishop, who simply advised her not to talk further
about the apparitions. She decided to leave the village, feeling
she could not stay there with people wanting to talk to her and
not knowing what to say to them. She emigrated to the United
States and lived anonymously.
An advocacy center for the Garabandal visions was founded
in New York, and a branch was formed in London. The center
declares that before the ‘‘chastisement’’ there will be great miraculous
signs that the world will accept as supernatural. There
will be a worldwide warning that everyone will be aware of, regardless
of race, color, or creed. Conchita will announce the
great miracle eight days in advance. It will take place at Garabandal,
where the sick will be cured and sinners converted, and
in this spectacular miracle God will manifest at the pine trees
a visible sign that will remain until the end of time for the conversion
of the world.
Meanwhile Conchita lives quietly and avoids publicity, trying
to escape the attention of the public. She did, however, take
part in a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television
feature on Garabandal (telecast in the ‘‘Everyman’’ series in
1980), although she declined the standard fee for her appearance.
This program highlighted the extraordinary challenge of
such apparitions of the Virgin Mary and the dilemma they pose
for those who see them.
Ganzfeld Setting Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
Whereas the story of Lourdes now depends upon hearsay
accounts and traditions of a century ago, the case of Garabandal
is so topical that film records were actually taken of the girls
during their trances, and direct interviews were recorded with
Conchita herself. In the BBC feature it was clear from interviews
with Conchita that she faces a strange problem, intensified
as the date of the miracle, known only to her, presumably
approaches. If there is no miracle, she will be branded a fake
or hysteric. If there is a miracle, her privacy and family life will
be invaded and disrupted by publicity.
Even the simple life of the villagers of Garabandal has
changed as the village has become a great pilgrim center. Speculators
have bought up land and new houses are being built to
accommodate pilgrims. Every year thousands visit the pine
trees where the miracle is scheduled. In the United States, Conchita
Gonzales waits with her family and dedicates herself to
‘‘love God and do his work.’’
Fr. Robert Pelletier, the strongest advocate for the Garabandal
visions in North America, has attempted to liken Garabandal
to Fatima, even recounting a similar miracle of the sun’s
dancing in the sky. Unlike Fatima in neighboring Portugal,
however, Garabandal has not received the endorsement of the
Catholic Church. An initial inquiry under the bishop of Santander
in 1967 reported to Rome negatively about the events at
Garabandal. Rome did not act on these findings, and thus the
church has made no official pronouncement on the validity of
the apparitions.
Gonzalez, Conchita, and Harry Daley. Miracle at Garabandal
The Story of Mysterious Apparitions in Spain and a Message for the
Whole World. Garden City, N.Y. Doubleday, 1983.
McClure, Kevin. The Evidence for Visions of the Virgin Mary.
Wellingborough, England Aquarian Press, 1983.
Pelletier, Robert A. God Speaks at Garabandal. Worcester,
Mass. Assumption, 1970.
———. The Sun Dances at Garabandal. Worcester, Mass. Assumption,
Perry, Nicholas, and Loreto Echeverria. Under the Heel of
Mary. London Routledge, 1988.