The apparitions of
THE STORY BEGINS
The First Trials
19.—Next day, Monday June 19th, the news had spread round the village like wildfire.
"What would an angel want to come to San Sebastian for?"
"I expect they were suffering from hallucinations. But, they must have seen something, because they looked really frightened."
"I noticed they looked rather pale and seemed to be trembling."
"They sat there crying for quite a while."
"Their descriptions matched when they gave details of the figure they saw."
"They say he had wings."
"It must have been one of those big birds."
"More likely some little child. It was almost dark."
The whole village was agog with the news. The questions rained thick and fast. The little girls answered one villager after another without hesitation. They gave a more detailed description of the angel's appearance and the strange glow that enveloped him.
Amid more or less mocking questions and remarks, they went to school. It was ten o'clock. Before starting the morning's classes, the schoolmistress asked them the same question as the night before.
"Children, are you sure of what you said yesterday?"
"Si, Señora. Yes, we are." And they told their story, to the admiration of their schoolmates, who plied them with eager questions. Classes began. "We did everything just as usual," writes Conchita in her diary, "without worrying any more about it."
At one o'clock, classes ended and they went home. Jacinta and Mary Cruz were walking along together when they were overtaken by the parish priest from Cosio.
"What's all this I hear? Did you really see the angel?"
"I'm not too sure, myself . . . Perhaps your eyes played tricks on you."
"Honestly, we weren't mistaken," they answered, smiling. "We saw the angel."
They proceeded on their way. Fr. Valentin turned his steps towards Conchita's house. Halfway there, he met the child. Conchita recalls that the priest looked agitated.
"Come now," he said. "Tell me the whole truth. What did you see last night?"
Conchita told him the story, taking care not to omit any details. Don Valentin listened attentively.
"Well," he instructed her as they parted, "if you see him again this evening, ask him who he is and what he is after."