Though the timing of the first Garabandal apparition was twenty years before the daily visits began in Medjugorje, they are intricately linked as are the messages of Betania, Akita and countless other sites and messages to messengers the world over. Just how closely the "Ten Secrets" of Medjugorje relate to the messages of Garabandal and the Warning, no one except the visionaries really know for sure, but we do know that the parallel of Garabandal to Medjugorje is no coincidence.
Twenty years before Our Lady appeared to six children in the small village of Medjugorje, the Blessed Mother appeared to four children in the even smaller village of San Sebastian de Garabandal in the northernmost mountain region of Spain. Like Medjugorje, Garabandal is less than a hundred miles from the coast; like Medjugorje, Garabandal is nestled between the mountains: like Medjugorje, the villagers were poor farmers whose faith was strong, yet simple. And yet it was this unpretentious hamlet Our Blessed Mother chose to impart her most powerful message since LaSalette and Fatima.
The sixties had just dawned. It was a time when the "age of innocence" was about to be transformed into the "age of guile and deceit". The era of "Camelot" was soon to become Mordredís dungeon for the sinister sin of abortion was just coming into its own, sexual mores would be stretched to their limits, and the world would turn further away from God, committing sins that would cause many tears of sorrow and cry out for Justice. In addition, the Second Vatican Council had been called. Little did anyone realize that from the authentic good fruits of the Spirit how the evil one would afterwards confuse the faithful through those within the Church who had sold their souls to the prince of darkness.
Our Blessed Mother knew this was all just over the horizon when she began appearing to four young girls- Mari Loli Mazon, Conchita Gonzalez and Jacinta Gonzalez- all twelve years old at the time of the first apparitions-and Maria-Cruz Gonzalez, age eleven. Though the three shared the same surname, they were not related. Like the young visionaries in Medjugorje two decades later, these girls had been up to innocent, but mischievous fun-stealing apples on the hillside above the some seventy rough-tiled homes in the village. As their consciences got the best of them, their imagination took over and they thought they saw an angel on the evening of June 18, 1961. Indeed, they did, and he reappeared silently for the next week to them in the same spot. This Heavenly messenger had come to prepare the children for a cornucopia of visits from the Mother of God.
Just as he did at Fatima when he announced he was the "Angel of Peace", this time he identified himself as St. Michael the Archangel! The Guardian of the Faith had come to tell these elementary school girls that the Mother of God would soon appear to them. Early on the evening of July 1, 1961 St. Michael appeared again to the four and heralded that Mary would soon appear to them as Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Two - Garabandal: For whom the Bells Toll!