The construction of a vision | 2013
800 x 100 cm

La construcción de una aparición [the construction of a vision] are four showcases that group and organize in different sections the lengthy textual, photographic and audio-visual information that I handled during my research on San Sebastián de Garabandal. This documental space/installation helps us dive into the most meaningful aspects of the Marian visions in general, and into the Garabandal ones in particular. Reviewing this material —established through brief explanatory notes— sheds lights into the question of the Garabandalist phenomenon, offering a visual flow chart that shows in detail all things related to it, its precedents, its protagonists and settings, its media coverage, and the promotional strategies conducted until now.

To introduce and complement the documentation about Garabandal, a small preliminary compilation of information has been included. It covers some of the most significant aspects of visual production in the Catholic context, relating Garabandal and its visionaries to their models and predecessors (such as Bernadette Soubirous, Thérèse de Lisieux and Fatima). This introduction shows how popular culture validates the iconography of visions through a photographic reconstruction while it recreates the baroque imagery of religious prints. This showcase of precedents certifies that the process of constructing a saint is, above all, a strategy to legitimize a new individual by framing him or her under the models of ancient sainthood.

1. Paul Dufour, Bernadette devant la grotte accompagnée de ses sœurs, 1864
In 1862, photographers begin to compete for the privilege of taking pictures of Bernadette Soubirous that were to be sold later. Half of the proceeds of those sales belonged to them, but the other half was allotted to building the Lourdes Chapel. The first to be authorized by the diocese is Paul Dufour, who distributes portraits of the saint attributed, by Denis Pellerin, to Paul Bernardou, Louis Samson, and E. Annet, a photographer from Tarbes. Among all the stereotypes displayed, we can find Bernadette devant la grotte accompagnée de ses sœurs [Bernadette in front of the grotto together with her sisters], which recreates the girl’s first visions at the banks of the Grave river. Bernadette poses in a traditional regional costume together with two figurants playing the role of her two sisters (who were with her during the first sightings) picking firewood on top of a theatrical side drop that depicts natural scenery. She is on her knees in a stance similar to that of the Annunciation with her gaze fixed on her vision, which remains outside the scene. Her sainthood is just represented; no attempt is made toward visualization. Sold as postcards, the photographs of the girl will quickly achieve international renown.

2. Anónimo. Epidemia de visionarias, 1858
On April 11th, four days after another one of Bernadette’s visions, ve women became very distressed by the commotion that affected the numerous people who visited the grotto. The grotto has three caves. In one of them, there is a stalactite the size of a person. In that cave, the women noticed the ame of their candle ficker over the stalactite, and, profoundly shaken, returned to the village to tell about their vision. That starts an epidemic of visions during which village girls, in their ecstasy, hold rosaries in their hands. On the 4th of May, Jacomet, the police commissioner, removes all religious objects from the cave while the prefect declares that "every person that calls herself a visionary will be immediately arrested and taken to the Lourdes hospice."

3. Céline Martin, Thérèse de Lisieux en el papel de Jeanne d’Arc, 1895Thérèse Martin, known as Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jésus or Thérèse de Lisieux, holds the honor, together with Joan of Arc, of being a second patron saint of France. The French heroine who was, at that time, in the process of being canonized, fascinated the Carmelite nun. For that reason, she wrote and staged Jeanne d’Arc accomplissant sa mission (1895). The play was staged at the convent with Therese in the leading role. Next, her sister, Céline—who gets a special permission from the prioress (also Thérèse’s full blood sister) to introduce a photographic camera, an unexpected object in a religious order known for its austerity, into the convent— takes some pictures. Thérèse is depicted dressed with the attributes of the famous character, enchained, in prison, and being consoled by Saint Catherine (virgin and martyr). Thérèse’s "construction" is particularly significant insofar as her sanctity neither contains nor reveals anything to us: no miracles, no ecstasy, and no stigmata. This reconfiguration becomes apparent in the forty images that Céline takes of her (which are either retouched or, clearly, staged), as well as in the manuscripts that the prioress will continue to produce. In both cases, she will be presented as a martyr.

4. Portraits of Constantino Casanova from Gonzalo Rodríguez Lafora’s collection, published in Mundo Gráfico and shown in the exhibition organized on the occasion of the VI Asamblea de la Liga de Higiene Mental [VI Meetings of the League of Mental Hygiene], 1935.
In the self-portraits of Constantino Casanova we can see the process that takes him from religious imagery to psychopathology. The context is going to force certain motions, based on the repetition of a model, into an ambiguous reading.
The images from Lafora’s archives correspond to the final stages of a medicalization process that was imposed onto the sacred or the mystic and was fostered, among others, by Charcot and Richer. From the middle of the 19th century, psychiatry searches for the biological causes of paranormal visions, interpreting these phenomena as manic expressions, delusions or delirious thoughts, the results of neurological disorders. The Church is going to use this medical diagnosis to question the wonders that were undermining its authority.

5. Joaquín Sicart, Ezquioga postcards series A and B, 1931-34. Courtesy of Josema Azpeitia.
The extraterritorial scope of the events at Ezkioga make them the nationwide precedent for the ones in Garabandal. In this case, photography occupied a prominent role. With it, photographers, believers and visionaries built a narrative portraying themselves, while at the same time they generated an alternative popular imaginary in the realm of the Church, and, above all, provided a response to the social changes caused by the advent of the Spanish Republic. The camera is going to define reality as a spectacle for the masses, and is going to reconfigure the archetypes and models of popular faith in order to gain the endorsement of the clergy and bring about changes in public opinion, always skeptical about visions.
The photographs of visionaries that were sold to the Ezkioga pilgrims look very similar to paintings and images of saints in ecstasy. The task of capturing this semblance on lm was primarily taken on by three devout photographers. One of them, Joaquín Sicart, from Terrassa, opened a store in the village to sell these images. Three years later he became a Carthusian monk.

6. Jean-A. Ducrot, “Le grand châtiment”, in Vu, 1933
Among the numerous articles and publications that appeared in the European media about Ezkioga, the ones by Jean A. Ducrot, a reporter for the French news weekly created by Lucien Vogel, and written at the behest of Raymond de Rigné, a devout French photographer, are especially noteworthy.
He aims the camera at subjects similar to those documented by the devout, but his position in different. Ducrot captures the convening power that the visions display, the context where the events take place, the domestic raptures, and the attitude of the public and the protagonists
in front of the camera. Likewise, he portrays those that did not show a proper talent (because of their lack of conviction in their raptures, or because of lack of photogenic qualities). In his coverage for Vu, there is a picture of a visionary that the devout photographers never showed before. It depicts a stocky peasant woman who, in her trance, was heading toward the cross in front of the road with an unusual gait. Neither her face nor her attitude evoked the looks of a saint. Most probably, she was not the only one excluded from the pictures of the devout photographers. Others, lacking the necessary attributes, were probably also discarded.

7. Germán Lopezarias, Francisco Ontañón, “Fátima (1960). Los tres sobrinos de las videntes reconstruyen el itinerario de las apariciones” [Fatima (1960). The visionaries' three nephews reconstruct the itinerary of the apparitions] in Ama, Issue 2, 1960
With strong advertising revenues, women’s magazines were on the rise during Franco’s dictatorship. In general, they were imitations of their French counterparts, but with the obvious limitations of censorship. With the help of cgat (Comisaría General de Abastecimientos y Transportes), Banco de Bilbao published Ama (1959-1970). The article shown here is
an example of the ideological indoctrination of National- Catholicism. Women were in charge of spiritual concerns, while men were responsible for economic and political matters (the instrumental forms of power and authority).
Catholic religion encourages visionary experiences, and, for that reason, great numbers of children and adults have visions that receive little or no attention from society. The level of mistrust toward these experiences is very high. In Garabandal, several factors override the weight of such skepticism: the Second Vatican Council that promoted ecumenicism and a more intimate, rather than visionary, relationship with God; the explosion of apparitionist phenomena that causes waves of pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima; or the fact that the city of Saint Sebastián de Garabandal was noticeably more conservative and devout than the rest of Spain.

8. J. Calafell. The pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima, Tàrrega, 1954
In 1945, right after the end of the Second World War, a parish priest from Berlin proposed that a statue of Our Lady of Fatima travel the capitals and the Episcopal cities of Europe all the way to the border with Russia. The statue is a replica of the original and is known as "the pilgrim." The political content at the center of her patronage (the religious conversion of Russia) turned her into another weapon of the Cold War, especially in the 1950s.
In Spain, Pascual Arias, a wealthy believer, distributed numerous copies of the Virgin, many of which were sent on pilgrimages promoted by Franco’s dictatorship. In 1949, Arias' visit to Santander was attended by a huge crowd. These pilgrimages provoked waves of visions that tried to emulate the original one.
In the photograph by J. Calafell we get a sense of what some of these events in Tàrrega celebrating the arrival of the statue looked like. The town will become the final destination point of the statue's pilgrimage across the region. At the
end, the diocese will start the construction of a shrine in the village to house her. And, a little later, Tàrrega will name one of its neighborhoods after the Patroness Saint.

9. The Passion of Esparreguera
The pictures of people dressed as saints, as the Virgin, and as Christ, although closely related to religious precepts, are, by emulating the divine without the mediation of the Church, deviations from the doctrine. In these enactments, the body of the devout functions as the exhibiting architecture of faith. In that role-play, the identification of the subject with the icon also suggests a sharing of the desires and forces gathered in religious imagery.
"Passions" are a popular staging where the inhabitants of a village enact the last moments of Christ's life as part of a public spectacle. Other examples of popular theater practices that familiarize people with religious narratives are the living nativity scenes and the Ball del Sant Crist [the Dance of Holy Christ].

10. Padre Alberto. The miracle of the sun, 1925
In As Grandes Maravilhas de Fátima (1928), the canon Manuel Nunes Formigâo, under the pen name of Viscount of Montelo, publishes three documents intended to show the stages of the miracle of the sun. Twenty years later, the illustrations get reprinted in the Vatican press with the caption "rigorously authentic" (1951). The press allows its publication because
Pius XII witnessed the same phenomena in the gardens of the Vatican. Le Monde denies its authenticity and suggests that the Vatican could, as well, deny them. The Catholic press replies that evidence of its forgery would not detract from its prodigious wonders, and upholds the trustworthiness of the documents. The next day, the French newspaper argues that L’Osservatore Romano acknowledges the possibility of an error. Six years later, the director of protocol of the Foreign Ministry of Portugal explains how he found the negatives of Father Alberto, and how their publication in Formigâo’s book led him to believe that they were, indeed, images taken in Fatima. When cardinal Tadeschini visited Portugal, the minister offered him further documentation of the affair, which was later sent to the Vatican press. In 1952, despite all reservations, the pictures were published again as authentic in the book Imprimatur, La Vierge Secourable [Imprimatur, The Procuring Virgin]. The pictures were taken at Torres Novas in front of a meteorological phenomenon reminiscent of the miracle.

Media coverage
The fourth oficial note from the diocese that appeared on July 8th, 1965, focuses on the media coverage of a phenomenon that has transcended all borders with the help of “international news agencies [that] have photographs and special reports.” The amount of information circulating about Garabandal compels the prelate to ban the publication of books, pamphlets and articles that had not passed the censorship of the diocese of Santander.

1. Por qué. Semanario nacional de sucesos y actualidades, November, 1961
Por qué, the magazine published in Barcelona, devotes a special issue to Garabandal on occasion of the reading of the first invocation of her patronage (on October 18th, 1961). Both the camera work and the journalistic narrative are described as impartial in the editorial. By then, newspapers all over the country had already reported on the incident.
In that issue, the articles by Ángel de la Vega published shortly after the phenomenon were reprinted, as well as an extensive article illustrated with photographs by Carlos Echeve that had been published only two months after the incidents. At about the same time, Spanish Television shot a lm of the events that is broadcast on TV. Paris Match, the French magazine, publishes coverage of the news with pictures of the incidents. Garabandal took the place of Fatima’s third message, which, in 1960, had not yet been delivered.

2. José Luis G. Davalos, “Garabandal intenta resucitar”, in Personas, May 5th, 1976
In the beginning of the 1970s, three of the visionaries moved to the United States, with support from American sponsors. New protagonists quickly occupy the charismatic space
that they had left behind. As it happens to all sites where visions are reported and, therefore, reach certain notoriety, Garabandal and its adjacent territory developed a kind of visionary epidemic in a very short time. One of the first ones to take advantage the hierophanic nature of the village is Elisabeth Van Keerbergen, a Belgian known as Mamie Treuttens. This woman brought an age change to the pro les of the visionaries who followed thereafter, introducing to their trances spectacular signs of the Passion as if they were their own.
Mamie will be the preferred protagonist of José Guerra Campos, bishop of the Cuenca diocese, known, in Garabandalist leafets, by the nickname of “bishop of Spain.” In Barcenillas, that religious leader was soon to found the Hogar de la Madre de la Juventud [the Shelter of the Mother of Youth]. This organization owns lots of land in Garabandal destined to build structures for tourism and religious education.

3. Maruja Torres, “Garabandal en América”, in El País Semanal, July 5th, 1987
During the 1960s, a process of pentecostalization takes
place in the Catholic communities of the United States that quickly reaches Europe. Those Pentecostal movements bring back the concept of miracles and the power of ecstasy. With the support of some American publicists, Garabandal also finds its place among these reactions to the Second Vatican Council. The phenomenon gets consolidated within a tendency that brings to center stage the possibility people have of accessing the sacred. Joey Lomangino, an ultraconservative millionaire who is related to Conchita González, the main protagonist, is going to devote himself
to spread the new worship through the Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (New York). A network of interconnected centers will develop throughout the country, and subsidiaries of that organization will spread all over the world. The visionary culture that, two decades later, takes hold of America (the geographical area that, after these cases, produces most of the news related to visionary sightings) will consider the phenomenon at San Sebastián de Garabandal, by then already well established, as one of its foundational bases.

4. What is Garabandal, El Aviso y El Milagro, continuously published since the early 1960s
The coverage of the Garabandal incidents will, at first, be done through conferences. To that purpose, the Workers of Our Lady of Mount Camel print a dozen free promotional flyers that are translated into several languages. They list the elements that articulate the dramaturgy of that worship taking special care to focus on the apocalyptic tradition of the doctrine of modern Marian apparitions. Alfred Combe explains that, in the 1970s, the conferences usually started with the screening of a lm followed by the presentations of the speakers. The events ended in collective prayers.

5. María Mensajera (1970- ) y Garabandal, Nueva Pentecostés (1982-199?)
In Spain, two groups promote the new worship: the Grupos de Oración del Padre Pío and the Familia de Oración Jesús Nazareno. Both create an organization to promote all the information about the visions during the 1970s.
In 1959, Luis María Ansón and Francisco Sanchez- Ventura y Pascual founded the publishing company Círculo to produce a monarchic magazine called Legitimidad. That company (which, in order to receive donations and obtain fiscal exemptions, develops, with time, into a non-profit foundation) later becomes the main means of spreading information about the visions. The pamphlet María Mensajera and the list of books related to the events at San Sebastián de Garabandal are proof of it.
Headed by María Paloma Férnandez-Pacheco de Laurri and José Ramón García de la Riva, Garabandal, Nueva Pentecostés, a periodical no longer in circulation, becomes another means of spreading information about the visions in Spain. Both publications will study in detail the prophetic and millenarian models of the Catholic world. Modern charismatic figures and visionaries, like Pío de Pietralcina, Teresa Neumann, Maria Voltorta, etc., will appear throughout their pages.

6. Needles, GARABANDAL Magazine, Garabandal Journal, Garabandal International, The Vigil.
There are numerous Garabandalist organizations, some in Australia, the Philippines, Japan, Ireland and, in great numbers, in the United States where most magazines on the subject are published. In 1972, the New York center establishes Needles, a communications platform. The religious gures Joseph A. Pelletier, François Turner, Francis Benac and Alfred Combe form the backbone of the magazine. Later, it changes its name into GARABANDAL Magazine until, in 2009, publication ceases. In 2002, Barry Hanrratty, the former editor of the magazine, launches the bimonthly newsletter Garabandal Journal. Around the same time, the Australian center begins to publish a magazine every four months called Garabandal International. The Vigil, promoted by St. Michael’s Garabandal Center in Pasadena, will become another periodical published in the Anglo-Saxon world. The Centre d’Information sur Garabandal in France will publish, for a while, a quarterly newsletter called L’appel des pins.

7. Guy Ancien, Garabandal. Continuation de Fátima, Belleu: Guy Ancien, 1994.
Garabandal carries the imprint of all recent visionary experiences: La Salette, Lourdes and, above all, Fatima, whose structure it emulates through its visions of Hell, its news of the religious conversion of Russia or its apparitions on trees. Books and pamphlets about her patronage underline their resemblance. An example of this is a brochure known as The Sun Danced at Fatima (1951) by a theologian named Joseph A. Pelletier. The booklet, The Sun Dances at Garabandal (1973) tells the story of three solar events that allegedly took place at the village.
The contemporary Marian apparitions form a chain. Each adds a piece of a larger revelation that only makes sense when all parts of the message are assembled. Garabandal adds to Fatima the news of the end of time. Like the messages from the Cova da Iria, the ones from Garabandal become progressively radical and escalate their demands. The growth of penance and prayer requirements aims to adhere devoted followers to the necessary rituals that will later constitute the new worship.

8. Familia de Oración Jesús Nazareno, trascripción del mensaje recibido por María Isabel Antolín, 2012
Garabandal welcomes the massive use of technological devices to document the apparitions. Since 1961, Plácido Ruiloba (paradoxically, the first to know the inner speeches of the little girls) will record the conversations and the messages obtained by the girls in presence of the apparitions with a tape recorder. The device will attest to the activities of the visionaries as enhancement to the divine wishes. The tapes will be copied. Their contents will be transcribed, published and distributed by different Garabandalist groups.
In relation to the visual and charismatic realm, these women remain without their own voice. The idea that grants them the role of amplifiers of the Sacred Verb continues in full force. The words of the visionaries of San Sebastián de Garabandal continue being recorded with cell phones, transcribed and spread through photocopied brochures. Technology helps the visionary experience because it builds its proof.

The great majority of books about Marian apparitions are written by devout people, eager to convince, with educational ingenuity and remarkable energy. The publishing company Círculo, the Centre d’Information sur Garabandal, and The Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel produce a barrage of texts about Garabandal. Backing the phenomenon, there are, initially, enormous economic assets that are vital for gaining worldwide attention. Explanatory and doctrinal texts by priests and theologians are necessary to recruit new followers.

1. Conchita González, Diario de Conchita, Nueva York: Plus Ultra Educacional, 1972 (2nd edition)
Pauline Martin, blood sister and prioress of the Carmelite nunnery that Thérèse de Lisieux joins, asks the novice to write her autobiography. Just a few nuns are subject to dictates of such obvious consequence: those who give the orders envision a posthumous promotion. It means that all her life Thérèse will be marked as a potential saint. El diario de Conchita continues this model, taking advantage of an autobiographical aim for transcendence. Its publication is, no doubt, narcissistic. The visionary places herself at the center of God’s plans and of the fundamental choices that concern Humanity. Through its numerous editions and translations, the book relies on the forewords of prestigious and religious gures that ratify it.

2. Francisco Sánchez-Ventura y Pascual, La Vierge est-elle apparue à Garabandal, París: Nouvelles Éditions Latines, 1966 (2nd edition)
Professor of Economics at the University of Zaragoza, lawyer, playwright and nalist of the Planeta literary award, Sánchez-Ventura was one of the most fervent advocates of the apparitions. In 1965, he published the book Las apariciones no son un mito in response to Juan Antonio Monroy’s critical text, El mito de las apariciones (1963). He began writing it at the request of the Andreu brothers. Compelled by the success of Sánchez-Ventura’s preceding book, Estigmatizados y apariciones (1961), these Garabandalist Jesuits asked him to write about the visions. The archbishop of Zaragoza, Pedro Cantero Cuadrado, allowed its publication without an Imprimatur or a Nihil Obstat. After its publication, the bishop of Santander banned any further books on the subject.
Sánchez-Ventura’s family is a paradigm of the Spanish conflict. José María Sánchez-Ventura, the father of the professor, was, after the war, Governor of the province of Teruel, and, after that, mayor of Zaragoza. His uncle, on the contrary, was an anarcho-communist activist. Since he was linked to the artistic avant-garde, Rafael Sánchez Ventura was a member of the Junta Nacional de Protección del Tesoro Artístico Español [National Committee for the Protection of the Spanish Artistic Heritage] during the war.

3. Eusebio García de Pesquera, Se fue con prisas a la montaña, Pamplona: Eusebio García de Pesquera, 1979 (4th edition)
Pesquera’s book, published for the first time in 1972 under the pen name of Dr. Gobelas, is among the most treasured materials for the Garabandalists. The publication of this huge volume includes numerous editions and translations into French and English. The text is available online at several websites related to the community.
The titled alludes to the Visitation, the moment when Virgin Mary, pregnant with Jesus, hurries to the mountain to visit her cousin Elizabeth. The date, after the Roman liturgical calendar reform of 1969, coincides with the first apparition of the Virgin at San Sebastián de Garabandal. This detail is an example of the strained relationships that the author creates with the sanctioned legends in an effort to legitimize the visions.
After Franco’s death, this religious author writes an apocalyptic book, Garabandal: Hora X (1977) praising that “Spain of the 18th of July.” In its pages he warns about the proximity of the punishment announced by the visionaries. In a psalm, he mentions the communists who are responsible for the outcome: Santiago Carrillo and La Pasionaria, the obvious leaders of the “red beast” that represents a “moral danger to the Church and the Homeland.”

4. Albrecht Weber, Garabandal. „Der Zeigefinger Gottes“, Meersburg: WETO-Verlag, 2000 (2nd edition)
Albrecht Weber, head of the Garabandal Center in Germany, wrote and self-published three books on the subject: Garabandal, “Der Zeige nger Gottes”, Maria erscheint in Garabandal and So sprach Maria in Garabandal. Weber was in Garabandal the last day the Virgin appeared to the visionary. In the advertisement that accompanies his publication, it is mentioned that, during his stay in the village, he conducted a series of interviews with Conchita from which he published some excerpts in Garabandal, “Der Zeigefinger Gottes.” The author does not speak Spanish, English or French, so we must conclude that, during the conversations, he used an interpreter.
Weber owns a company that sells religious products, WETO-Verlag, established in Meersburg since 1972. Using this company, he distributes, as postcards, the photographs he took in the village. These pictures are focused on elements of the landscape that are linked to the consecration of the local surroundings.

5. Jacques Serre y Béatrice Caux, Garabandal : Apparitions prophétiques de Marie. De la beauté à la vérité, 400 photos témoignent d’une annonce capitale pour la fin du XXe siècle, París: Guibert, 1999
Having inherited a universe of ancient beliefs, the apparitions at Garabandal reveal, moreover, the devotional practices of the region. It is no surprise that the apparition of San Sebastián de Garabandal was seen wearing a scapular and showed itself under the patronage of Mount Carmel. Devotion to the souls of the Nansa valley helped spread the influence of the Patroness of the communities linked to Purgatory. Proof of that is that, among the women of the village, it was customary to get dressed in the penitential garments of Mount Carmel.
Isabel de Daganzo, a painter from Santander living in Barcelona, undertakes the first depiction of the Patroness following the description of one of the visionaries. The final image, which is revered today at the chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael, wears a blue gown instead of the usual brown. Fortunately, the color that the girls saw the Virgin wearing matches the one reported from another apparition by Simon Stock, the reformer of the order.

6. José Ramón García de la Riva, Memorias de un cura de aldea. Garabandal, 1961-2011, Madrid: Arca de la Alianza, 2011
Photography reveals what is immaterial. Shortly after its invention, this medium was already being attributed the capacity to reveal what is invisible. In the 19th century, that quality, evidenced by the use of X-rays, together with a lack of knowledge about its technical details, drove early photography to be associated with the occult. The success of photography studios specialized in taking pictures of spirits reveals how some new concepts about the photographic process were adapted to express traditional subjects, and how the established beliefs about the supernatural can be transformed by new technology.
To take pictures of miraculous phenomena associated to the sites where apparitions have happened is common practice among numerous pilgrims today. In Garabandal, this praxis is anticipated by one of the visionaries. Compelled by José Ramón García de la Riva, she takes, while in trance, an image in which some see the contours of the Virgin. The figure appears as a blurred, underexposed and amorphous form. To perceive the divine silhouette we are cautioned to be in a state of grace, a fact that purports immediate visionary powers to whomever sees (quite questionably) the pareidolia.

7. Materne Laffineur, L’étoile dans la montagne. Les apparitions de San Sebastian de Garabanal, Brujas: Comité international d’informations et d’études historiques, 1966
As a result of the visions, diverse groups, some with certain social relevance, begin to appear. These groups get involved in the process of spreading the worship, thinking of themselves as legitimate interpreters and universal propagators of the contents and meanings of the messages. Among these emerging figures, there is Materne Laffineur, an energetic promoter who writes several books in French about the incidents. Since 1963, the Dominican friar that is related to the process of canonization in the apparitions of Beauraing (Belgium) becomes the “oficial investigator” of the incidents. His status is that of the internationally renowned members of the Church linked to the network supporting new visionaries, the most famous of which is René Laurentin, author of Visage de Bernadette (1978). These religious figures travel, write books and spread the influence of visionaries at the Vatican.

8. Ricardo Puncernau, Phénomènes Parapsychologiques à Garabandal, Chazay d’Azergues: Abbé Combe, 1974
Scientific protocol and the neutrality of medical reports played an important role in Garabandal. Among all the doctors and psychiatrists who accepted and spread the supernatural nature of the visions, there was a Catalan neurologist by the name of Ricardo Puncernau. The figure of this devout doctor, a supporter of scientific parapsychology, contrasts with that of Luis Morales Noriega, head of the region’s mental health department at the time of the apparitions. Morales, who de ned ecstasies as hysterical phenomena, concluded that the causes of the incidents were the laxity of the priest and the teacher.
In the brochure Phénomènes parapsychologiques à Garabandal, Puncernau rejects the possibility that the phenomenon is a game of simulation. Neither the typical pro les of the hysterical crisis as de ned by Charcot, nor the obnubilation and the proper stupor of catalepsy described by Janet were present in the states of trance of the girls. According to the Catalan neurologist, the movies and the photographs prove the lively emotional expression of the youngsters.

9. María Josefa Villa de Gallego, Los pinos de Garabandal iluminarán al mundo, Barcelona: Ediciones Ronda, 1994
In 1883, the Bureau de Constatations Médicales is created in Lourdes. Doctors progressively replace priests who have been in charge of documenting the healings until then. This fact, somehow, places science at the service of beliefs. Meanwhile, Lourdes spurs medical questions that, at the time, were centered in the etiology of nervous illnesses and the mechanism of their cure. Parisian doctors, impressed by results that they could neither reject nor reproduce, begin to place the sanctuary at the center of a debate about hypnosis, the unconscious and mediumism.
The role of María Josefa Villa, married to the doctor Félix Gallego, gives further legitimacy to the miraculous healings that Garabandal copies from Lourdes. The most famous story is that of Menchu Mendiola, the wife of the doctor Ángel Álvarez, cured by divine intervention. In the same way that visionaries attribute each other authenticity (a circularity used to certify the validity of apparitions in front of others), promoters of visions support each other’s arguments.

10. Harry Daley, Miracle at Garabandal. The story of mysterious apparitions in Spain and a message for the whole world, Dublín: Ward River Press, 1985 (2nd edition)
In 1973, Daley (an actor, stunt double and production coordinator) works as executive producer for the movie Conchita Speaks. The lm, described in his book, The Miracle at Garabandal, as a documentary, is, above all, an interview with the main visionary that is conducted by the doctor Jerónimo Rodríguez for whom she works. Saint Joseph’s Foundation produces de lm with the support of the Brooklyn Diocesan ETV Center. A year later, Daley works on a second similar movie directed by Patricia A. Taylor, The Message of Garabandal. That a stunt double plays in two films and writes a book about those events proves to devotees the veracity of the performance of the ecstasy without a hint of doubt.

11. Abbé J. de Bailliencourt, Garabandal. La fin des temps, Luzy: Centre d’Information Garabandal, 1973
While prophecies have been associated with Marian apparitions for centuries, the eschatological subject has only gained importance in the 20th century. Predictions about the end of the world, which were already incorporated by the visionaries of Ezquioga in 1932, draw their logic from the secret made public by Mélanie Calvat at La Salette.
In Garabandalist literature, the sign of the end of the world is all around: in nuclear weapons, AIDS, hunger, pornography, natural disasters, communism, murder, drugs, corruption... The messages of the apparition are a response to the religious crisis of our times, which, at present, in view of the economic situation, gain renewed relevance among their followers.
The apocalyptic ethos is essentially found in the contemporary Marian visitations that are not oficially approved by the Church. Those at Bayside (1965-1995), which intensify the anti-communist and conspiratorial ideas of previous apparitions, are the most millenarian. The inevitable nuclear holocaust is a recurrent subject in its message.

12. Ramón Pérez, Garabandal. Le Village parle, Montsûrs: Resiac, 1977 (1st edition)
At the time of the apparitions, San Sebastián de Garabandal had 300 inhabitants. Ramón Pérez, the son of an exiled Republican in France, gathers stories of the villagers in his first book.
During the Civil War, all the towns in the Nansa valley had their own committee or political Republican council. They were rarely, if ever, anti-religious. The rural regions of Santander were known to be the most devout areas in terms of public religious practices. Immediately after the war, the youths of San Sebastián de Garabandal joined their priest in pilgrimage to La Luz to celebrate the victory of the Nationalists.
In a town whose inhabitants were proud to say they were the most religious village of Spain, the apparitions quickly found the support of the authorities. The parish priest, the mayor, and the brigadier of the Guardia Civil were some of their first supporters. In their own processes of acculturation, the villagers had already been introduced to Mariophanic rituals. When these rituals escaped the stage of the Church, spilling all over the town streets, they became fully authenticated.

In their narrative strategy, the Garabandalists start a wide circulation of pictures of the visionaries, videotapes, patronage cards, scapulars, medals and reliquaries that contain wood splinters from the pine trees. The wealth of “documentary” materials constituted an important advertising tool in the travels of the promoters of the cult around the world. At present, the images can be seen online in countless interconnected websites developed by supporting organizations.

Unlike other portrayals, these pictures are imbued with the aura of authenticity shed by their indicial character. A discourse centered on realism and the importance of the body becomes the main characteristic of the photography of trances. For devotees, each picture is a certificate of the divine presence. The mechanical eye unveils it, and the democratic reproduction of the copy makes it accessible to everyone. The pictures of those girls in ecstasy show the apparition reflected in the stance and the face of the visionary, rendering it visible to its believers.
In Garabandal, the visionaries quickly breach the codified poses that are learned and conveyed by Catholicism about states of trance. The eccentricity of their raptures is documented in the pictures taken by amateur photographers and that support groups will later market. In them, one can find evidence of a tension between the storytelling and the photographic freezing of bodies in motion. When the ecstasies multiply their occurrence at night or during business days, amateur photographers replace the camera work of Fotografías Puente from Cabezón de la Sal.

2. The protagonists: ARCHAISM AND RITUALISM
San Sebastián de Garabandal, enclosed within the imposing landscape of Peña Sagra, is a typical Cantabrian village. In 1961, this meant that it was a hard to reach and poorly communicated town with no paved road to link it to the main thoroughfare in the valley. The placement of the visions gave credibility to the events. In the minds of devotees, it was completely impossible that a bunch
of sheep farmers were able to fabricate such complex staging and the messages of the apparitions. The pro le of the protagonists was similar to that of the visionaries, peasants and shepherdesses, preferred by the Church. The phenomenon of the apparitions reveals the defense of archaic and rural lifestyles made by the devout followers.
The desire to be in Garabandal at the moment of the great miracle has helped spread the idea that it is the “new Holy Land.” This has, paradoxically, also increased the speculative price of the land. The owners have sold their properties, and the systems of production and the peasant lifestyle have given way to land speculation, weekend visitors and religious tourism.

Catholicism is accustomed to the cultural teachings of devotional imagery. The contrast between icons and idols helped establish the difference between the correct and incorrect use of images. Popular fervor, however, endows representations with a power that places them outside dogma. Statues that cry, sweat or move are good proof of it. The emulation that the girls at Garabandal made of all those venerated religious statues that preceded them favors their worship and consecrates their photographs.


Mari Loli was the daughter of the village mayor and owner of the tavern. Mari Cruz, known as the daughter of the “pasiega” (synonymous of foreigner in closed communities like this one), suffered the contempt of the neighbors because of her lack of religious devotion. Jacinta’s mother, María, was in charge of the daily ritual that consisted of walking all the streets in the village ringing a little bell that invited the people to pray for the dead. Conchita owed her important role to her ingenuity, her beauty and the assiduousness of her trances. The girls stopped having visions when they reached puberty. The perception that sexual matters are less sacred than celibacy should not go unnoticed.

In Mediterranean Europe, the sacred element is a part of the landscape. Numerous shrines are found on top of hills and mountains, or are associated to fountains and grottos. Garabandal follows the same model. Its sacred ecology is, at first, based on trees that remind us of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or the Tree of Life. The divine appears, first, on an apple tree that grows in the garden of the village teacher, and, later, moves to a stand of pine trees on a hill. The change of epiphanic location takes place as a response to the private nature of the initial emplacement.
The patronage is linked to a location, choosing the pines as a site for a great miracle. The supernaturalized space turns the image into a sacred figure, and, at the same time, consecrates its surroundings. The image conquers a territory of grace, an area in which its powers become manifested. This new emplacement, infused with divine powers, requires subsequent staged representations: conversions, healings, pilgrimages, and benedictions. Although the image that represents the Virgin can be replaced by any other of the same patroness, the same cannot happen to its location. Its place in the surrounding landscape is relevant. This location confers exclusivity to Garabandal’s Patroness. Her influence in the natural surrounding makes her unique and different from other images in Mount Carmel’s tradition.

5. The scenarios: THE VILLAGE
Unlike the visionaries who preceded her, Bernadette Soubirons had her visionary experiences in public. Thousands of people flocked to the Masse-Vieille grotto to witness the events following previous notices before the apparitions. That is how Lourdes inaugurated the era of “scheduled apparitions.” Fatima, Ezquioga and Banneux reproduced that model. Garabandal brought a change when it introduced the “calls.” Three calls warn the visionaries that the presence is about to manifest itself. From that point on, the apparition can take place anywhere, anytime, moving across town in a relocation process that prefigures later visionary phenomena.
The pictures taken by the devotees throughout all those years of visions provide a registry of how the visionaries and the devotees consecrated the whole village. Their attention shifts, following the wandering of the presence, from one place in town to another.

6. Construction of symbols: THE CHAPEL
Franco’s programs to consolidate the Catholic faith were aimed to recover Marian devotion. No new patronage, however, receives the approval necessary for the construction of a shrine. In Garabandal, meanwhile, a chapel is built in honor of the archangel Michael. The favorable reception of the book of Las apariciones no son un mito helps Sánchez- Ventura raise funds for its construction. The Virgin gives the order to build to Conchita Gonzalez, and it is ratified to the writer, again, by the messages received from another visionary. Sánchez-Ventura buys some land and erects the shrine without ecclesiastic permission arguing that altars and praying chapels can be built on any private land. The main visionary fixes the placement of the building, which is inaugurated in 1970. When the prophesized call and the miracle finally take place, the temporary construction of the chapel gives way to that of a proper temple on the site with the pine trees. The final construction which, initially, could be unassembled, has now been progressively consolidated.
In visionary accounts, the Virgin always manifests her desire to be venerated in the exact place of her epiphany. The setting and the characters are always the same. The event usually takes place outdoors, on an elevated location. The intermediary is generally a shepherd or shepherdess.

7. Construction of symbols: THE BELL
Postcards define two of the town’s emblems. From the bell tower, anyone can see the pines consecrated by the hierophanies. The bells are the symbol of San Sebastián de Garabandal’s religious liturgy. At noon, they announce the hour of the Angelus prayers. In the evenings, a woman walks across town ringing a little bell to call the villagers to pray for the souls in Purgatory. The importance of this symbol is also clearly stated in the stone sculpture placed outside the chapel devoted to the archangel. The magazine María Mensajera (Issue 30) explains that the origins of the monument, built in 1975, is a personal petition received by a person present at a prayer group in Santander. A divine voice manifests its desire that its author be Jesús Otero (Cantabria’s beloved child, with a dedicated museum in his hometown). The receiver of the divine message even sees the emplacement of the sculpture and the expression of the Virgin. In order to launch the project, they constitute a special commission headed by Miguel González-Gay (leader of the prayer group). Requesting the work from an artist specialized in religious subjects can be seen as a challenge to the oficial iconography.

8. The devout scrapbook: SERGIO GONZÁLEZ-GAY MANTECÓN
In the scrapbooks of the devotees, one can perceive how the phenomena were socially experienced and built. Contact with the divine was shaped and became reality as a collective and human relations staging, as the body language and behaviors that gave meaning to the events. Some participated as ceremonial officers, others as beneficiaries, instigators or simple viewers. The emotions and the experience of the supernatural evidence were achieved collectively.
The devotee’s scrapbook is mixed with the daily and personal documentation of the family album. The pictures create the chronicle of the group, a group conceived as an extended family. The images show the construction of a space for identity values. This is evidenced in the timing of the narrative, organized only around the events that are considered relevant. Pictures are organized following the narrative logic of a book. These personal images, shown in all kinds of printed publications, sold on the Internet or in religious item stores, put the private lives of their protagonists in circulation.

9. Luis Lobera, Garabandal, 1961
8mm, B/W, 12 min. Copy in 16mm. Courtesy of the author.
On July 18th, 1961 (a day that celebrated the military uprising against the legitimate government of the Second Spanish Republic), using an 8mm camera, Lobera shot an ecstasy at the request of the canon of Santander’s cathedral, who paid for the lm stock. The movie was intended for examination of the trances by a commission of doctors and priests that suspected hysteria, hypnotism and catalepsy.
Filmed in black-and-white, low-sensitivity stock and at 16fps, the movie, which was suppose to include a voice-over, also shows still images of Martín Lobera from the preceding days. The structure of the narrative, the different takes and the editing show the work of a professional (that same year, the Lobera brothers will be given the opportunity to work for Spanish Television). The master copy of the movie is later bought by the New York Garabandal center.

10. Richard K. Everson, The Events at Garabandal, 1971
Super 16mm, color, sound, 45 min. Courtesy of the author.
The Events at Garabandal was the first audiovisual recording used for the promotion of the phenomenon. It was translated into several languages and sold, in its original format, by the Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Joey Lomangino and the religious leaders François Turner and Alfred Combe, among others, used it in all their conferences about Garabandal. The movie helped complement and, later, replace the slide shows in the sessions, introducing still images and pictures from the trances and invisible Eucharistic communions filmed by amateurs. Everson, the narrator of the lm, always presents it as a documentary. Its consideration as such warns us of the testimonial value that these images held for the devout follower.
The Events at Garabandal includes excerpts from an ecstasy documented by NO-DO (the takes, not transferred to television signal, and, therefore, not available for browsing, are among the unpublished coverage of the newsreel). Italian Television was in town that same day (July 18th, 1965), the date of the second and last message, which had been announced six months prior.

11. William Nicholson, Garabandal: After the Visions, 1980
Color, sound, 32 min.
In August, 1980, The British Broadcasting Corporation produces, as requested by London’s Garabandal Center, and with the support of Joey Lomangino, a newsreel on Garabandal. On December 28th of the same year, it is broadcast at prime time on Everyman, the weekly BBC program addressing religious subjects. The documentary, produced by William Nicholson (nominated twice to the Oscar), centers around a personal interview with Conchita, and shows aspects of her daily life, images of amateur lmmakers at the time of the apparitions, and Lomangino’s comments. The interview takes place at the visionary’s home.
Nicholson, who was 32 years old at the time, decided to direct the documentary after seeing Harry Daley’s interview with Conchita from 1973. Garabandal: After the Visions received the BBC’s award to the best religious documentary of the year, and was broadcast three times on that network and four more times on Irish Television. Channel 13 and Channel 7 in the United States would later buy the broadcasting rights.

12. Maryanne Hamill (editor), The Message of Garabandal, 1994
Color, sound, 54 min
In 1995, The Message of Garabandal was broadcast on EWTN. Joey Lomangino was a guest at the famous live show of Mother Angelica, the powerful founder of the Catholic television channel. This broadcasting company is one of the vehicles of propaganda for the visionary culture, becoming, thanks to the exposure of visionaries, an everyday phenomenon.
Saint Joseph Publications and the Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel produced the show, which was translated into twenty-seven languages. The movie shows footage of the girls in ecstasy and in their normal state, and includes takes of their weddings. From a more emotional perspective, the visionaries’ lives are presented as very different from those of seclusion in a convent chosen by Bernadette and Jacinta.
The images acquire meaning with the voice-over. The comments enable us to interpret them. The narrative structure includes elements that are characteristic of fiction, but are presented as deductive. The sources are attributed to Jean- Baptiste Caux, Guy Loriquet, María Saraco, Harry Daley, Raymond Doucette, Luis Lobera and NO-DO.

13. Michael Francis J. Tuberty (productor), San Sebastian of Garabandal: The Eyewitnesses, 2002
Color, sound, 72 min.
As the other lm and video pieces, this one by Michael Francis J. Tuberty overlaps period footage with images of the town at the time of production. In the video, with Roman Canylak’s Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, all photos and films are declared authentic. Garabandalists preferred to ignore the subjective dimension of both media, and stressed the existing links between vision and knowledge, giving images the value of documents. The New Zealander builds his story after a trip a group of pilgrims take to Garabandal with the guidance of María Saraco, eyewitness of the last ecstasy and head of Saint Michael’s Garabandal Center (Pasadena). The testimony of socially relevant figures (Mercedes Salisachs or Valentín Marichalar, the village’s parish priest) and the town’s neighbors validate the phenomena.
The religious television channel Focus invites María Saraco to Garabandal. Then and Now, the program where the video is nally broadcast (for sale on its Internet store, among other places). In the advertising for the DVD collection on the apparitions, the site for St. Joseph Publications states that after the warnings this type of audio- visual media will become very necessary.