Miracle of the Visible Host
By Christopher Morris
Among the many remarkable characteristics of the Garabandal apparitions was that on numerous occasions, the seers, in ectasy, went through all the motions of receiving Holy Communion. They said that St. Michael brought them Communion and that he took the Hosts from tabernacles on earth. These Hosts, of course, were always invisible to onlookers, however, in the early morning hours of July 19, 1962, as visionary Conchita Gonzalez knelt in a village street amidst a large crowd, apparently waiting to receive Communion, a shining white Host was seen to suddenly appear on the girl's out-stretched tongue. Conchita called this a "little miracle."For quite some time, the four girls had continually asked the Blessed Virgin and St. Michael to perform a miracle to convince those who still did not believe in the visions. So on June 22, 1962, during an apparition, St. Michael told Conchita that on a date designated by the Virgin, he would give her Communion, only this time the Host would be visible on her tongue. Conchita, who thought the Hosts could always be seen by onlookers, was surprised when told that it wasn't so.
A few days later, Conchita learned through Our Lady that the prodigy would occur on July 18 and that she was to reveal it 15 days in advance. When the time came, she began, with great assurance, to write letters inviting people to come to Garabandal for the miracle, but the pastor, Fr. Valentin, who doubted that the phenomenon would happen, stopped her from writing any more letters. Nevertheless, the news had already spread far and wide and people from different parts of Spain began making preparations to be in Garabandal on July 18.
Conflicting InterestsFrom a strictly human standpoint, July eighteenth was not the best day for the promised prodigy. But, as we've so often been reminded, God's ways are not our ways. It was both a national holiday and the big day of the year for the villagers of Garabandal when they celebrated the feast of their patron, St. Sebastian. Relatives would be invited from other towns, village women would spend as much as $70.00 for a dress, a fortune for those poor mountaineers in those days, and special meat dishes would be prepared, a rare luxury for the residents of Garabandal in 1962. The atmosphere would be festive and there would be visitors from surrounding villages, mostly young people who would be there, not to see a 13-year-old girl receive Communion, even from an angel, but to have a good time.
July 18, 1962, saw two camps in Garabandal, those who were there to see Conchita's ecstasy and those who had come to enjoy the festivities. Conflict was almost inevitable.
The beginning of the day was certainly edifying enough.
Toward noon there was a solemn chanted Mass in the village church with
three priests officiating, and the church was filled to overflowing. There
were so many
communicants that Hosts had to be broken into pieces to accommodate everyone who wanted to receive. Among those receiving Communion was Conchita Gonzalez, a fact that was to have a bearing on the upcoming prophesied event since Church law at the time only permitted a person to receive Communion once a day.
At the conclusion of Mass, the statue of St. Sebastian was taken down from above the main altar and carried in procession through the village to the accompaniment of alternating religious couplets and the sound of drums and tambourines. In a clearing on the opposite side of the village from the church, the procession ended and the young people of Garabandal, dressed in traditional Cantabrian folk costumes, performed the dance called "los picayos," a time-honored custom.
Once the dance was over and the statue of St. Sebastian returned to the church, the formal celebration of the feast day was over. Soon, a more secular spirit would pervade the air when the big dance began.
The dance of July 18, 1962, in Garabandal.
As the day wore on, so did the dancing and the people who had come for Conchita's ecstasy started to become uneasy. "What's happening with Conchita?" they asked, but all was quiet at the Gonzalez residence. Many felt that the dancing and merry-making were preventing the ecstasy from taking place. Attempts to get the musicians to stop playing were unsuccessful.
The scene was one of contrasts made all the more pronounced because the dance was taking place only a short distance from Conchita's house and in full view. The close proximity of the two groups seemed to symbolize the perpetual ongoing battle between the spiritual and the worldly.
Day turned into night and the people were growing increasingly restless. Inside Conchita's house, the mood among family relatives, priests and friends, was no better. Finally one of Conchita's brothers who was dozing by the kitchen hearth jumped up and said to her, "I can't take this any longer; I'm going to bed. You've badly deceived all of us!" After repeating himself one more time, he left to go upstairs. Conchita called after him, "No, don't go. Wait a little longer." She had already received at least one interior summons and knew that the time was drawing near.
After midnight, the dancing finally stopped but by then many people, convinced that the prodigy was not going to happen, had left the village.
At 1:40 a.m., a goodly number of people still remained and when Conchita came out of her house in ecstasy, it was as though an electrical charge shot through the crowd. The mad scramble was on, with people falling over one another to get as close to the visionary as possible. This is what they had waited for and no one wanted to miss it.
With the crowd pressing around her, Conchita turned a corner, went down a street and then into a back alley used as a dumping ground for dirty water. It sounds a bit like Lourdes where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette in the cave of Massabielle which was used as a garbage dump.
Conchita's ecstasy did not end there. St. Michael told her to hold out her tongue with the Host on it— from two to three minutes according to most observers—until the Virgin came. When Conchita retracted her tongue, she got up and marched off, following her vision into the starry night.
ReflectionLooking back in retrospect 27 years, many thoughts come to mind about the Miracle of the Host, but only one wants to be discussed here. When the visionaries were asking the Virgin and St. Michael for a miracle so that the people would believe in the apparitions, their concept of a miracle was the same as ours would have been, some stellar phenomenon or the like that would dazzle the senses. At one point, Jacinta was heard to ask the vision, "Come, perform a miracle! Call all the people as you call us and once they come, produce a great light!" But instead of those petitions being acceded to, the "miracle" chosen by Heaven had to do with the Eucharist. And this is the real significance of what happened in Garabandal at 1:40 in the morning of July 19, 1962. The "little miracle," as Conchita called it, was designed to direct our attention to the "great miracle" that is performed on our altars at Mass every day when bread and wine are changed into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. That is truly the miracle of miracles.