Mr. Alejandro Damians Damians
Witness of the miracle of the visible Communion
"On several occasions, and with many people, I have had the opportunity to share my impression of the amazing miracle which I had the grace to witness on July 18, 1962 in San Sebastián de Garabandal. My report will begin a little earlier, on Monday, July 16, 1962. At that moment, I knew that the miracle – or rather, the first extraordinary public event – of Garabandal was announced for July 18."
These are the opening remarks of Mr. Alejandro Damians in his report on the miracle that occurred in Garabandal on July 18, 1962, of which he was a privileged witness. On that date, Conchita received Holy Communion from the Angel, and on her tongue it became visible to those present for a few seconds. Mr. Damians happened to be in Garabandal that day. Providentially, before setting out on his trip, a family member had lent him a movie camera, giving him brief indications on how to use it. Mr. Alejandro managed to film, at night, a few frames of the last moments of Conchita’s visible Communion. Thanks to this, visible proof of the miracle has been preserved.
On that memorable day, two miracles took place for Mr. Alejandro. The first was the Communion of Conchita. The second was "the proof of Our Lady's infinite love, because it is only thanks to her that I was able to experience the joy of witnessing the miracle."
Witness of the miracle of the visible Communion
Regarding the exceptional circumstances and supernatural events that I lived in San Sebastián de Garabandal on July 18, 1962
On several occasions, and with many people, I have had the opportunity to share my impression of the amazing miracle which I had the grace to witness on July 18, 1962 in San Sebastián de Garabandal.
My account has been more or less extensive and detailed depending on my mood, and the amount and the personality of the people in front of me. The presence of those who have already heard my story, as well as various other external circumstances [also influence me].
I thought it would be interesting and useful if my description were linked to a written Report so as to avoid, not contradictions or discrepancies, but slight variations in my story. I myself could write it with that peace of mind, which is so necessary. I could also review and analyze each and every circumstance that surrounded the events. People of sound judgment have recommended this to me. Therefore, I have decided to publish the story without further delay. I have an intense desire that it may offer a sincere, clear, and calm idea of my role in the events taken place in the village of San Sebastián de Garabandal.
Perhaps some of the people I will mention are well known, but others are totally unknown. I will not go into too much detail about them, but neither will I overlook their intervention.
My story may seem monotonous for those who in one way or another are linked to these events and circumstances, while for others it will be insufficient and perhaps incomplete. However, the most important thing for us is Garabandal, and I think we can safely risk certain confusion about the people, if in this way we reach a greater clarity in the events.
I will begin my report by going back to Monday, July 16, 1962.
At that moment, I knew that the miracle – or rather, the first extraordinary and important public event – of Garabandal was announced for July 18. Although, as in any other place, God’s wonders occur continually over the course of our lives.
I have always considered myself a man of faith. I have never needed to witness miracles in order to reaffirm my beliefs. However, curiosity had led me previously in March to visit the small village in the Province of Santander. I am not particularly impressionable, but I was considerable effected by the inhabitants' amiability, the girls' ecstasies, the supernatural atmosphere that one seems to notice there, the collective stoic resignation of these people in the presence clearly extraordinary circumstances, and the singular interior cases of a personal nature that occurred to me. However, the experience in itself seemed sufficient for me and, although I desired to return to Garabandal, I was indecisive about the choice to make on this occasion.
I must confess honestly that as far as my resources and obligations allow me, I am very attached to my comfort. Perhaps that is why I was willing to take a small summer vacation in Premiá del Mar, in the attempt to ignore the fact that the miracle (which I would probably not have the occasion to witness) was announced for July 18. I decided to find a justification for my apathy, claiming that, if I was meant to go to the small village, God's will would be fulfilled without any intervention on my part.
My cousin desired to go, and I allowed him to make the decision. We agreed that before returning home from a village on the coast, he would pass by my residence to see whether or not I would join him. We decided to meet at around 7 p.m. When the time arrived and there was no sign of my cousin, I decided to settle down with my family. I was fully resolved not to interrupt my short vacation.
He arrived during dinner, telling me that for family reasons he could not go. However, he had a friend that was willing to go if he could find someone to accompany him. I declined the invitation.
The circumstances seemed to increasingly favor my excuses. The inconvenient time, my cousin’s impossibility of going, and the idea of traveling with someone who was still a stranger to me, all reinforced my decision to stay home.
At that point, I became fully aware of God's will in the simplest manner. It was due, not only to my wife and my cousin's insistence (whose reaction I expected), but also to that of my son, despite his young age. I finally gave in after my wife's comments, my cousin's advice, and my son's petition.
From that moment onwards, the following events occurred very quickly. I called my cousin’s friend and we decided to meet at four o'clock in the morning. I went to Barcelona with my wife, prepared what was necessary, and left a note at the office informing that I would be absent for a few days... Things began to occur hastily, one after another, as if I were living a nightmare. At four o'clock, my new friend, his brother, my wife, and I were headed north by car.
At this point, I must mention a detail that was destined to become perhaps the most important [part of the story]. Before leaving, my cousin lent me his friend's movie camera, and gave me brief indications on how to use it. [This was] very important because my inability in this matter was the result of my complete and absolute ignorance of such technology.
Our trip offers nothing noteworthy except for the continuous rolling down the road. Without having slept, we arrived in Garabandal at 10 p.m. on the July 17.
The small village was invaded by outsiders. Without any publicity, the news of the first tangible confirmation of the events' truthfulness up to the date had spread throughout the country. A multitude from different regions and social classes caused the atmosphere to have an extraordinary aspect, in which one could notice an unusual expectation. Among the visitors there were several priests chatting amongst themselves, and with Fr. Valentín, parish priest of Cosío. He had gone up to Garabandal for the liturgical services that would take place the next day (on the great feast day).
We found accommodation at Encarna's house (aunt of one of the visionaries), where we left our limited baggage. We set off towards Conchita’s house. She is one of the four visionaries, and precisely the one that had announced the miracle.
That night we witnessed an ecstasy, extraordinary as always. It made yet another deep impression on us, because we were awaiting the visible demonstration of the supernatural.
It seems absurd to me to make reference to “the following day”, when in my memory the July 17 and 18 constitute one whole uninterrupted period of time. The night, which seemed unusually long, was followed by a pale, cloudy, and gray dawn that seemed like its continuation. The early morning Mass was followed by the bustle of the small town celebration, a bit calmer in the morning but that slowly increased in the early afternoon.
I spent almost the entire day inside Conchita’s house with my wife, my friend, several priests, and other people unknown to me. I had the opportunity to speak with Fray Justo, a Franciscan priest with whom I have maintained correspondence. He later, in a letter to one of my friends, described how skeptic he was upon leaving Garabandal after the miracle. Before long, he would be enlightened and change his opinion, although now is not the moment to enter into this question.
Two circumstances came together to produce doubts as to whether or not the announced miracle would come to pass. One was the festive atmosphere that reigned in the village, and the other, the presence of priests. On several previous [similar] occasions, the girls had not entered into ecstasy. Likewise, the presence of priests had beforehand motivated the girls to receive Communion normally and not through the Angel's mediation.
The atmosphere was one of doubt because, against the proven facts, the visitors said that Conchita had personally invited priests to come on July 18. However, due to the questions that they asked her during that same day, it became clear that neither the festivities nor the presence of priests would be an obstacle to the miracle.
Conchita announced that she was going to have lunch at about three in the afternoon. This led us to believe that, if there was to be any Communion, we would have to wait at least three more hours. Thus the day continued on between doubts and hopes, boredom and excitement.
Discouragement and unbelief spread when, after midnight, there was still no sign of anything extraordinary.
At about 1 a.m. on July 19, when some had already begun to return to their places of origin, the news spread like wildfire. Due to the solar time and the geographical location of the village, July 18 would not end until 1:25 a.m. By that time, those of us who were inside the house knew one thing for certain: Conchita had received the first call.
Shortly after that, we were ordered to vacate the house. I stayed in the doorway, accompanied by a family friend of Conchita, to prevent anyone's entry. From where I was, I could see the kitchen and the staircase that leads to the upper floor of the house. Conchita was there (I think that her cousin and uncle were with her), when she went into ecstasy.
I first realized what was happening when I saw her come rushing down the stairs, with that classic pose in which her facial features are sweetened and enhanced. After crossing the doorway, the people waiting outside the house opened a passageway just enough time for her to pass. From that moment on, the crowd swirled around her like an overflowing river sweeping away everything in its path. I saw many people fall, trampled by the overwhelming crowd, although as far as I know, no one was injured. The appearance of the mass on the run, pushing each other, could not be any more frightening.
I tried to keep close to Conchita, but five or six rows of people stood between us. Sometimes I could see her, but not clearly. She turned to the left, going through a passage that is formed by the side of the house and a low wall. She turned left again and, in the center of that street (which is relatively wide), suddenly fell to her knees.
Her fall was so unexpected that the flood of people, by their own inertia, passed her on both sides. Freed in this way of those who separated me from Conchita, I unexpectedly found myself on her right side and about half a meter from her face. I resisted, firmly and with great difficulty, the thrust of those behind me, making every effort not to be swept away from that privileged place in which I now found myself – and I accomplished it. The pushing diminished until everything finally returned to a relative calm.
Shortly before midnight, the clouds that had darkened the sky cleared away, and the blue “mantle” was illuminated by stars that shined around the moon. With this light and the additional light of numerous flashlights that lit the street, I was able to see perfectly that Conchita had her mouth open and tongue out, in the classic position for receiving Communion. She was more beautiful than ever. Her expression, her gesture, far from causing laughter, or seeming vulgar or even ridiculous, was that of an impressive and moving mysticism.
Suddenly, without realizing it, without Conchita changing her position whatsoever, the Sacred Host appeared on her tongue. It was completely unexpected. It did not seem to have been placed there, but rather it could be said that it seemed to have appeared there at a speed that exceeds the human eye’s capacity of perception.
It is impossible to describe the impression I felt then, and how I feel now recalling it. Surprise, amazement, confusion are feelings too contradictory to be combined in a single expression. In these or similar terms, I have spoken over and over again about what happened. Upon reaching this point, I have never been able to avoid experiencing a wonderful impression that makes my heart leap, filling it with tenderness and bringing tears to my eyes in an overwhelming desire to cry... Tears of joy, of satisfaction, of happiness, of love... of anything, but tears nonetheless.
I later learned that Conchita remained motionless for about two minutes with the Host on her tongue until she swallowed it normally and kissed the crucifix that she carried in her hand. I found out a few months later that the long wait was due to the fact that the Angel told Conchita to keep [the Host] in sight until the Virgin appeared to her.
At that time I did not realize how much time had passed. I recall, as though a dream, the voices that cried out to me, telling me to duck down, as well as a blow that I received on my head.
My video camera was hanging on my arm. Paying no attention to the protests that I received from those around me, and barely remembering my cousin's instructions, I took the video camera out of its box, pushed the button, and filmed the last moments of Conchita’s Communion. I had never used any similar device, nor had I ever even filmed anything. My only security was that of having successfully focused on the figure. Given my total lack of technical knowledge, I doubted the successful outcome of the film. Other factors influenced the filming, such as [if it was] the appropriate kind of film, the intensity of light, which was nearly nonexistent, etc.
Conchita, still in ecstasy, stood up and disappeared from my sight. All those present in Garabandal followed her. I later learned that everything had lasted about an hour. For my part, I had already experienced enough emotions. I remained alone in a corner, leaning against the wall and pressing the camera against me with the little strength that I still had.
I do not know how long I remained in that place and in that posture. [Later] when the rigidity caused by nervousness was followed by weakness in my body, I slowly and aimlessly wandered throughout the village. I exchanged a few words with the people that were scattered everywhere, and finally went back to Conchita’s house. She was no longer in ecstasy, and wrote something for me on a holy card.
Finally, I said goodbye to her and to Fr. Valentín, who had called me to ask for my address. I left Garabandal for Barcelona completely exhausted. It was 3:15 a.m.
I am not sure what those who read this story will think, nor the decision the Church will make after judging the facts. I have no idea, and it is quite possible that they take no interest in it at present.
The only thing I can say, without any hesitation or doubt, is that on July 18, 1962, for me, two miracles occurred in Garabandal. The first was Conchita's communion, which took on a supernatural character of inestimable proportions. The second was the proof of Our Lady's infinite love, because it is only thanks to her that I was able to experience the joy of witnessing the miracle. This is of a lesser influence collectively speaking, but of no less transcendence for me.
Signed: Alejandro Damians. Barcelona, January 1963.
This event can be considered as one of the most important among those that have taken place in Garabandal. It was July 18, 1962. It had been announced by the girl (Conchita) in many letters 15 days beforehand.
The number of people who went to Garabandal that day was between two and three thousand. Judging by the calendar, the event took place on July 19, as it was 12:45 a.m. when it occurred. But if we consider the true local solar time, it was the July 18.
The people that Conchita says were present in her house at the moment in which the Angel appeared are: her mother, her brother Cetuco (Aniceto), and her cousin Luciuca, daughter of Antonia and Tomás. Antonia is Aniceta’s sister. Their permanent residence was in Cabezón de la Sal. Luciuca must have been about 11 years old when the miracle of the Communion happened. Miss Maria del Carmen Fontaneda is also mentioned.
Many witnesses were present at this event. Conchita was in ecstasy in the upper room of the house. In this state, she came down the stairs and left the house. She advanced turning left, until she reached a small street where she fell to her knees. In this state, and with outstretched hands, she stuck out her tongue with nothing on it. Suddenly, in the fraction of a second, the Host appeared. It was similar to those often used in churches, although of a somewhat thicker appearance. It was white. All who were watching saw it, as the girl remained with her tongue out during the space of two minutes or more.
Mr. Damians tells of how he was pushed and fell. Upon revealing the film, nearly 70 black and white 8 mm frames were found. They were of a poor technical quality, but clear enough to make out the presence of a Host on the girl’s tongue. One of these frames is the one that often appears in publications about Garabandal.
The Bishop of Santander, Bishop Eugenio Beitia Aldazabal, was interested in this film. He wrote to Mr. Alejandro Damians requesting a copy of it, because it "could be of great interest and service to the Church."
This film proved that what the people present saw was not a hallucination. What they had actually seen in the girl's mouth was, in fact, real.