Recently, after attending the World Congress for Families in Madrid, I had the great pleasure of fulfilling a very long dream of going to visit Garabandal also in Spain. I first read about Garabandal about 30 years ago and since longed just to go. I have already visisted, Lourdes, Medjugorje, Fatima, and Now Garabandal! God is really good.
After the end of the congress I, together with a spanish friend Marisa, caught Ryanair and headed for a one hour flight to Santandar where I hired a "smart" car (fiat brand new 3 klms on it) and began our drive to San Sebastian where two rooms had been pre booked for both of us.
Garabandal is a tiny village of about 300-400 people and no straight roads with very ancient houses and older type roof tiles.
Lucia's House where we stayed had lovely rooms and modern conveniences and price not expensive included breakfast. We also had lunch there it was huge and beautiful.
On our first day there I looked around the Church (St Sebastian) which is the centre of the village and activity seems to surround it. Its a beautiful older type of church with the altar being slowly repaired.
There is no resident priest but a priest comes daily to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and other activities of a priest's work.
On the first day Marisa and I also drove up to the hill where the apparitions and the "pines" are. I was a bit glad that we drove even though the road was soooooooo narrow because the top of the hill is quite steep. The pines are also said to be where the Blessed Virgin will leave a sign that she has appeared there.
Right on top of the hill looking down on the village is a marvel to behold, and to even see how the young seers (over 40 years ago were able to ascend towards the pines is a mystery.
The time at the top was beautiful, we (Marisa and I) prayed on our own.
I was drawn especially to the 13thirteenth station of the cross. This was a large image of this station and I had never quite looked at it intently before. I was drawn to this image because of the similarity between it, Michaelangelo's Pieta and abortion.
I just sat on the grassy patch in front of the image and thought and thought and thought. Later I moved and looked around at the other stations but I kept being drawn to the thirteenth station. It was speaking to me and I was trying to listen but couldnt hear what it was saying. But the sorrow in the eyes of the mother was very evident.I think its the sorrow I see in the eyes of post abortive women.
Later we drove back down to our guesthouse for lunch and met an Irish man John and an Australian lady from Queensland (Sarah) and another man who has been going every year for 26years.
John said that now that he is retired he goes yearly and as he lives in Ireland its a short flight so its easy.
Late afternoon Marisa and I decided we would walk up the hill but this time the hard way, walk the way the children did and I wondered if someone might have had to stretcher me down, but no I made it! I walked up the hill! someone who couldnt tie shoe laces walked up the hill (bit puffed though) but I did it! I especially wanted to do it because in Medjugorje I didnt climb Mt Krisvac because I thought I couldnt do it, so this time I was determined. And I did! Not bad for an "ancient person"
As we walked along, we met the other stations of the cross, same..beautiful, and came across a small chapel dedicated to St Michael the Archangel, whose presence is always wherever Mary of Nazareth is. He announced to the children her arrival to speak with them. Wow.
There is a rock there on which St Michael is said to have stood on. OH goodness I touched the rock!
When we reached the top and I had photogaphed all the stations of the Cross, the chapel, and prayed some more and looked for a little while at the most beautiful of God's creation-so green-so shining-so golden days. People even said that these last two days had been beautiful and serene. Perhaps Our Lady helped and loved me and made it easier for me to see.
After a time we began our descent but this time not by the craggy rocks but by the long way which we drove the earlier. It was only about 2 klms and along the way we met John again and a lady doctor who had retired from her work in another country and moved to live there.
That night we had cheese and fruit for dinner in our bedroom and retired early.
Next morning we went to 9am Mass and interestingly the Gospel for the day was "Mary left her home to go to the hill country and visit her cousin Elizabeth" and I was moved by this because "Anne left her home and went to the hill country to visit her "mother" Mary"
The day before, whilst sitting in front of the image of the descent from the cross I had asked Mary would she let me know she heard me and knew the things ask of her and her Son.
I hadn't known what the Gospel for the day was and was very moved by this very tangible sign as a response to my pleas. I also met the visiting priest (Fr Rolando).
After Mass I did the business part of our stay, said our goodbyes, and left. I would so much love to return or even live there there forever and ever. It such a simple life. people live, pray, go to Mass. Life is slow and not frenetic.
After we left Marisa showed me aroundSantadar surrounds, majestic castles, ancient churches. The very ancient and visible signs of Christianity, yet today abandoned for "nothing". We climbed turrets in castles, visited museums, San Vicente de La Barquera, Playa Del Sardiniero, La Magdalena Palace built El Capriccio by Gauda who also designed (was the architect) for the Sagrada Famiglia (Holy Family) CathedralBarcelona in.
We made our way to Santander airport and left after fulfilling this dream.
Back in Madrid I stayed a few days with Marisa and her husband Javier and children Elias and Grazia and did some sight seeing. OH goodness the Al Mudena Cathedral and Crypt. Out of this world. Unknown here in Australia, and many other beautiful spots.
Thank you Lord for your care for me.