It was a Sunday afternoon, June 18, 1961, and four girls, Conchita, Mari Loli, Mari Cruz and Jacinta, from the small village of San Sebastián de Garabandal in Cantabria, Spain, sought a “little adventure” stealing apples from the school teacher's tree. The tree was at the exit of the town, at the beginning of a steep and stony road that everyone knew as the Path. The Path leads up to the mountain, toward the fields where the girls' families worked hard to earn a living raising cattle. Shortly afterwards, with the apples still in their hands, a peal of thunder made them shudder. It was strange, because there were no clouds in the sky... Their conscience began to reproach them and, regretting their mischief, they lamented what they had done.
The protagonists of our story are four girls: Conchita González, Jacinta González, Mari Loli Mazón, and Mari Cruz González. All four were born in San Sebastián de Garabandal. Despite the fact that their last names are the same, they are not related. When the apparitions began, Conchita, Jacinta, and Mari Loli were twelve years old, while Mari Cruz was only eleven. Before June 18, 1961, when the phenomena began, they did not stand out among the other children of the town.
Fr. Valentín Marichalar Torres was the parish priest in San Sebastián de Garabandal when, on June 18, 1961, some neighbors reported to him that four of the village girls, Conchita, Jacinta, Mari Cruz, and Mari Loli, had seen an angel. The good priest spoke with the girls. Especially during the first days, right when the ecstasies finished, he took them aside and questioned them. Fr. Valentín was impressed that the girls, who had no foreknowledge of the questions he would ask, did not contradict each other despite their young age. Three days after everything started, Fr. Valentín already had enough information to be able to make an official communication to the Bishop's office. He began to send detailed reports regularly, describing everything that was occurring at his parish.