Miguel González, Conchita's brother
I attended the school in the village until I was 14 years old. Fr. Valentín, the parish priest, came from Cosío and gave catechism classes on Saturdays in the Church. Fr. Valentín would sleep in the village in order to celebrate the Sunday Mass. Every evening the Rosary was prayed in the Church. I have worked during the winter months ever since I was 10; it was a hard job. It’s a lot easier now because there are machines, but back then, everything had to be done by hand. People carried heavy loads on their sholders and had to walk long distances throughout the day because they had to store up the hay for the winter. When I was young and worked in the fields, the Church bell would ring at noon each day. Everyone stopped what they were doing, even those working with the livestock, and we would pray the Angelus. In the evening, everyone – men, women, children – everyone went home to later return to the church to pray the Rosary. This happened each day.
My dad was taller than my brother Serafín. He died of a lung disease due to too much dust in his lungs. When the hay stored in the barns is taken out during the winter, it creates lots of dust, and my father worked with that his whole life. Conchita was 12 years old when the apparitions began. She always went to Mass and received Communion whenever the priest celebrated Mass in the village. At my mother’s house, as soon as we finished eating dinner, we would pray the Rosary. I think that my brother Aniceto, who died when he was 28 years old in 1966, was the most religious of us all. He prayed the Rosary every night with the village people in the church. My mother was not only religious, but was also very strict with her children. If I was outside at a later hour, she would wait in the kitchen until I came home. When there wasn’t Mass in Garabandal, my mother would walk a little over 5 kilometers to the church in Cosío to go to Mass at 6 in the morning and then walk back home to begin working. She would do this rain or shine, whether it was summer or winter. Many young people from the village emigrated. I have been living in New York since 1969, working for Allied Sanitation, Inc., owned and run by Joey Lomangino.
When the apparitions started, Serafín and I were working in the province of León. I was 18 at the time. My brother Serafín and I were on our way home. We arrived to Torrelavega around 7 in the morning on July 13, 1961. While we were eating breakfast in a restaurant in Torrelavega, one of Serafín’s friends approached us and said, “Did you know that an Angel appeared to 4 girls in the village of San Sebastián of Garabandal?” We didn’t know anything about it because, although my brother Aniceto had written to us in León, the letter didn’t arrive until after we had gone home. When he first told us, we didn’t believe it much. We went to my uncle Paulino’s house in Torralavega. Uncle Paulino, my mother’s brother, said to us when we arrived, “Did you know that, according to the newspapers, an Angel appeared to 4 girls, and that one of those girls is your sister?” There was a picture of my sister Conchita in the newspaper, and that’s when we took the apparitions seriously. I told my brother Serafín, “We have to go home immediately.” Serafín said, “No, we’re very tired, we can go tomorrow.” The next day, July 14, 1961, we went to Pesués, where we got on a bus to Cosío. From Cosío, with our luggage in hand, we walked up to Garabandal. There were lots of people on the road. Some were walking towards the village, others were leaving. The ones who were leaving came up to us and said, “These must be Conchita’s brothers because during the apparition, she said her brothers would arrive today.” When we arrived home there were a lot of people both outside and inside the house. My brother Aniceto was in the kitchen. I thought to myself, “with the peaceful life we lived and now this.”
I knew my sister well and I knew she was telling the truth. The things that occured during the apparitions were incredible and everything amazed me so much that I remember it all as if it were yesterday. I was deeply impacted when I witnessed an apparition for the first time, because I heard the girls pray the Rosary, saw them climb to the pine trees, and come back down backwards.
I was really nervous the first time I witnessed it because I had never seen something like that and I didn’t really understand much of what was happening. For example, when they would shine a strong light in Conchita’s eyes or pinch her, I could see how she didn’t react. The doctors tried to lift Conchita from the ground but they couldn’t.
From July 18, 1961 until early October, I witnessed the ecstasis every day. There was either one, two or three visits from the Virgin Mary between eight o’clock in the evening and five or six in the morning. After that year, I was only in Garabandal at Christmas time and the summer, because I had to return to work.
One day I decided to test myself. Everyone spoke about how fast the girls would run to the Apparition site when they received the third call. I told myself, "They won’t outrun me because they are only 12 years old and I’m 18; I normally ran a lot more than them." One evening in July, at around eight, Jacinta, Mari Cruz, and Conchita were sitting in the kitchen at my house eating sandwiches. I can’t remember if Mari Loli was there or not. They had eaten a few bites when they felt the third call and they began to run. I ran behind them and before I reached the part of the road called the “cuadro,” I heard the noise of their knees against the rocks as they fell into ecstasy. It was impossible for me to keep up with them, even when I ran as fast as I could. I also tried to lift Conchita up from the ground but was unable to do so. She was as firm as a rock; I couldn’t even move her arms. Mi brother Serafín used to be able to lift even the heaviest weights. One day he tried to lift her, not because he wanted to but because the everyone asked him to, and he couldn’t move her. However, often times when the girls said goodbye to the Virgin Mary, they lifted each other up without the least bit of effort; they did this to be able to reach her level, where they saw her and to kiss her. Other times the Virgin Mary lowered herself to their level and kissed them.
The great proof of the truth of the apparitions for me happened shortly before the Miracle of the visible Communion received by Conchita on July 18, 1961. Conchita asked me, “Do you have a medal or a chain?” I told her, “No, I must have lost it.” She gave me a new medal and told me, “When a priest comes, ask him to bless it.”
Later, one evening when she had the apparition in the kitchen, she had lots of rosaries, chains, and scapulars in her hand to give to the Virgin for her to kiss; I was in the room, in the corner, somewhat apart from everyone else. She was kneeling down and she stood up to give the Virgin Mary all she was holding for her to kiss. I thought, “Why didn’t she give my chain to the Virgin Mary to kiss?” I hadn’t even finished thinking this thought when Conchita, with her hand still raised high, turned and walked towards me. She took the medal off my neck and gave it to the Virgin Mary to kiss. Then she put the chain with the medal back around my neck. A priest told me that the girls should get a change of atmosphere. They told me that it would be best for Conchita to go to the beach in Santander for a few days. They even said it would be good for Conchita to cut her hair because her braids would make her more recognizable and that she’d call to much attention. In Santander they cut her hair and on one occacion there she had an apparition and fell into ecstasy as she was walking down the street. Many people, priests included, gathered around her and tried to take her into the nearby Church. But it was impossible to lift her from the ground. They were finally able to take her into the Church, where she continued in ecstasy.
The evening in which Conchita received the visible Communion from the hands of the Angel was, for me, a great joy. There were lots of people in Garabandal because it was the feast of St. Sebastian. His feast day is on January 20, but it is too cold to celebrate it then, and that’s why we celebrate in on July 18. Many people thought that if there was a dance, that the Virgin Mary wouldn’t appear that day. A young boy asked Conchita, “Is it okay that there will be a dance today?” Conchita replied, “With the dance or without it, the miracle will occur this evening.” Around ten o’clock that evening my mother told me, “Miguel, go stand in the doorway so that no one else can come in the house because there isn’t any more room.” The door was open and I sat in the doorway so that no one could pass through, but no one cared and they came in anyways.
A little after 11 p.m. I closed the door and said to Conchita, “I’m going to bed because nothing will happen tonight.” Conchita begged me, “Wait a little longer, I’m going to be leaving shortly. I think I had the first call.” An hour later, Conchita went up to her room where there were a few family members and other people. With the third call she left the house, passing through the crowd of people there. I was able to follow her with difficulty, and I arrived just in time as she was kneeling. She made the Sign of the Cross and prayed the Act of Contrition. All of this is completely engraved in my mind. She put out her tongue, and shortly after, in an instant, all of the sudden, the Sacred Host appeared on her tongue. It was there for more than a minute. After receiving Communion she made the Sign of the Cross, she stood up and she left. I had heard that a man from Barcelona, Mr. Damians, recorded part of the Miracle, but I had never met him personally until Joey introduced me to him at his house in January 1972.
I remember how much importance was given to praying the Rosary during the times of the apparitions. On one occasion, during a stormy and snowy night, Conchita had an apparition and she walked through the streets praying the Rosary. She went to the Pines and to the Church. It was about three in the morning. When the people heard her, they got up and accompanied her while she prayed.
One of Serafín’s friends had expressed his desire to be present during one of the Apparitions. But he worked from six in the morning until nine at night and it was difficult for him to be awake during those hours of the night. One day, around one in the morning, Conchita, in ecstasy, began praying the Rosary. She went to this man’s house and stood outside praying the Rosary until he woke up, got dressed, and joined the group of people praying with her.
On one occasion there were about 500 people in front of Mari Loli’s house. Conchita had between 10 and 20 medals and chains around her neck. I saw her take off one chain that was, in reality, impossible to take off because it was too small to fit over her head. Afterwards they tried to put it back on over her head but it was impossible because they would have had to open the latch first. I saw how she took it off, with the medal hanging from the chain as she said to the Virgin Mary, “Is this it?” Then she went through the crowd and put it on its owner.
I had seen how Conchita, in order to put it around her neck, opened the latch of the chain and put it on normally. But she took it off during the ecstasies without opening the latch; despite the fact that the chain wouldn’t fit around her head. I saw Mari Loli do the same thing on another occasion.
Some of the priests who went to Garabandal believed it, while some others did not. One night there were three or four priests in my mother’s kitchen and my sister was sleeping in a chair. A Franciscan said to the others, “What time do the apparitions start?” At that my sister woke up and said, “Why do you ask if you don’t believe?” The priest had not told anyone that he didn’t believe. But he admitted that it was true, and he was impressed that Conchita had known.
I saw a lot of things, every day was different. Conchita often had an apparition around three in the morning and went through the village praying the Rosary. During the summer this was okay, but during the winter, when it snowed, it was a big sacrifice to go out at three in the morning to accompany her in prayer throughout the streets. My mother told me that on one stormy night she prayed that my sister wouldn’t go out. She had barely thought that when Conchita had an apparition and after, went out into the streets. Despite the terrible storm, she went outside. Shortly after Conchita went outside the storm stopped and my mother went outside to pray the rosary with her.
As Miguel says, the ecstasies each had something special or a special significance which made them different; all this filled him with a deep emotion. The following is an example among many that occurred.
Conchita and the snow:
One night Conchita had already received two calls, which meant that she could be expected to enter into a trance at any moment. Aniceta never left her alone in these circumstances, and especially not at night. But that night she wasn’t able to keep watch of Conchita herself, so she begged Aniceto to remain by his sister’s side instead of going to sleep. Around 2:30 in the morning, Conchita entered into ecstasy and left the house. Cetuco [Aniceto] took a lantern and followed her. It was a winter night, everything was white due to the snow and it was very cold. Conchita quickly clmibed up to the pine trees as if she were flying over the white snow. Cetuco was no longer cold for the mere effort of trying to follow her.
A little while later, Aniceta, all bunddled up, went out into the street to meet her children. The cold was incredible, but the total silence and dimmed splendor of the snow was even more incredible. When Aniceta at last reached the pine trees out of breath, she was left speechless at the sight: there, amongst the snow were her two children, kneeling down and praying. Conchita led the Rosary, focused on the Virgin Mary, while Cetuco responded devoutly. Afterwards, Conchita stood up. Her mother stood up in order to descend first and to prepare the path as best she could, moving the snow out of the way where the path was difficult. But it was a useless worry since the girl glided downwards over the white layer of snow as if she were following some invisible pathway, while on her knees and going backwards! The extraordinary ecstatic descent ended behind her mother’s house, in the little alleyway where the Miracle of the visible Communion would take place a few months later.
In the words of Miguel:
As for me, I had always practiced my religion, but now I reflect and meditated more about my life in relation to the apparitions and Messages of Garabandal. I truly believe that the Archangel St. Michael and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel appeared in my village, in San Sebastián of Garabandal. Personally, I believe in the apparitions and that something extraordinary will happen, as it is prophesied.