San Sebastian de Garabandal is a small hamlet of some 80 humble dwellings in the Cantabrian Mountains of northwest Spain. From June 1, 1961 to November 13, 1965, a Lady appeared to four young girls of the village. During this four-year period, an extraordinary number, over 2,000, of apparitions occurred, some lasting a few hours. The four girls (Conchita Gonzales, Mari Loli Mazon, Jacinta Gonzalez, and Mari Cruz Gonzalez) were eleven and twelve years old at the time. While praying on the outskirts of the village, they heard a sound like thunder. Suddenly, there stood before them a dazzling angel. He said nothing and quickly disappeared. Pale and visibly shaken, the girls ran to the village church, and the apparition soon became known. Over the next twelve days, the angel appeared to them several more times, and on July 1, he spoke for the first time, announcing that on following day the "Blessed Virgin" would appear to them.
News spread quickly, and numerous visitors joined the villagers to witness the event. At about six o'clock p.m., the children were headed for the spot, where they had been seeing the angel, when the Blessed Virgin appeared with an angel on each side. They recognized one of the angels as the one who had been appearing to them. Above the Virgin was a large eye that the children thought to be the eye of God. They spoke openly and familiarly with the Lady and said the rosary in her presence. Over the next year and a half, she would appear hundreds of times.
OCTOBER 18, 1961: "Many sacrifices must be made. Much penance must be done. We must be very good. If we do not do this, punishment awaits us. Already the cup is filling, and if we do not change we shall be punished."
JUNE 18, 1965: "As my message of October 18 has not been complied with and has not been made known to the world, I am advising you that this is the last one. 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 are taking many souls with them. Less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist. You should turn the wrath of God away from yourselves by your efforts. If you ask His forgiveness with sincere hearts, He will pardon you. You are now receiving the last warnings. I love you very much and do not want your condemnation. Pray to us with sincerity and we will grant your requests. You should make more sacrifices. Think about the passion of Jesus."
The relatively few messages of Garabandal contain prophesies of supernatural events that will affect the entire world. In addition, the visionaries claimed that they were given a series of frightening warnings about the future. Each of the girls stated that Mary told them about a series of four extraordinary events which would reflect God's concern for the state to which humanity had fallen. These events were reported to be:
A worldwide warning to be experienced by everyone on earth. Its purpose will be to call humanity to amend its behavior and return to God.
A great miracle that will occur in the late winter or early spring within one year after the warning.
Permanent signs that will remain for all time at a pine grove near Garabandal and other selected locations of Marian apparitions.
A terrible chastisement during which many will die. Other prophecies indicate that this chastisement will eliminate up to two-thirds of humanity. The chastisement depends upon the response of humanity to the warning and the miracle.
Conchita has stated, "The Warning, like the Chastisement, is a fearful thing for the good as well as the wicked. It will draw the good closer to God and warn the wicked that the end of times are coming." In describing the warning, Jacinta has said, "The Warning is something that is seen in the air, everywhere in the world and is immediately transmitted into the interior of our souls. It will last a very little time, but it will seem a very long time because of its effect within us. It would be like fire. It will not burn our flesh, but we will feel it bodily and interiorly." She goes on to describe astronomical phenomena: "like two stars -- that crash and make a lot of noise, and a lot of light -- but they don't fall. It's not going to hurt us but we're going to see it and, in that moment, we're going to see our consciences." In addition to these events, Conchita has stated that she was told by the Blessed Virgin in 1962 that after the death of Pope John XXIII, "There would be two more popes after Pope Paul VI and that one of the popes would have a very short reign. After that would come the end times but not the end of the world." If Conchita has interpreted this vision of Mary correctly, then Pope John Paul II is the last of the popes before the end times begin. Conchita said that she has been given the date of the Miracle by the Blessed Virgin and will announce the date eight days before it is to occur. Since the Miracle will occur after the Warning, it is highly likely that both the Warning and Miracle will occur within the next thirty years given Conchita's present age (late forties) if this apparition is valid.
Conchita has said through her Diary, "I am the only one to whom the Blessed Virgin spoke of the miracle. She forbade me to say what it will consist of. I can't announce the date either until eight days before it is due to occur. What I can reveal is that it will coincide with an event in the Church and with the feast of a saint, martyr of the Eucharist; that it will take place at 8:30 on a Thursday evening; that it will be visible to all those who are in the village and surrounding the mountains; that the sick who are present will be cured, and the incredulous will believe. It will be the greatest miracle that Jesus will have performed for the world. There won't be the slightest doubt that it comes from God and that it is for the good of mankind."
On September 14, 1965, Conchita said, "The sign that will remain forever at the pines is something we will be able to photograph, televise, and see, but not touch. It will be evident that it is not a thing of this world but from God." At another time, concerning the great miracle she added, "It would last about 15 minutes." On August 10, 1971, while talking to a group of Americans, she offered this revealing information: "It will take place on or between the eighth and sixteenth of March, April or May. It will not happen in February or June." Eight days in advance of the miracle ,Conchita will give notice to the world about its coming. Prior to the eight-day notice, God will send a warning to the entire world to purify it for the great miracle. Therefore, the world will receive two advance notices: the warning and the eight-day notice.