“A group of mothers placed all our hopes in the Virgin of Garabandal and we regained our children.” - Sara Urioste, mother of one of the October 1972 plane-crash survivors.
The story about the plane-crash that occurred in October 1972 is well known by many. However, the testimony of Sara Urioste, mother of one of the survivors, is less known. She attributes her son’s life and that of the other survivors to the intercession of the Virgin Mary who appeared in Garabandal.
The plane that took off from the Carrasco Airport in Uruguay going towards Santiago del Chile had aboard forty passengers and three crew members. The most part of the passengers belonged to the Uruguayan rugby team “Old Christians.” The young men, from 19 to 26 years of age, were on their way to Chile for a game against a Chilean team. The flight should have lasted four hours but, due to bad weather, the pilot decided to land at Mendoza. They spent the night in the city and took off again on October 13. The plane left at 2:18 pm and disappeared at 3:34 pm. Shortly after telling the flight control tower that he could see the city of Curico, he entered into a blanket of clouds and the plane began to experience major turbulence. The passengers looked out the windows and could see the enormous, snowy peak very close to the plane. They began to pray, expecting the impact against one of the mountains. The right wing of the plane hit the side of a mountain, and the plane broke in two, landing on the snow without wings nor tail. The survivors found themselves on the Chilean mountain range at thirty degrees below zero at night and hungry. Days went by and their companions began to die. Two of them decided to cross the mountains to reach Chile. After seventy-two days, on December 22, 1972, the sixteen survivors were rescued.
Sara Urioste’s Testimony
Twenty years ago, the marvelous miracle of the Andes occurred. Let me tell you how a group of mothers placed all our hopes in the Virgin of Garabandal and regained our children.
I was in my parish praying with a heart full of anguish when someone tapped me on the shoulder and placed something in the pew beside me. A moment later I turned around, but there was no one in the church. It was a holy card with an image of Our Lady that I had never seen before. Returning home, my sister told me she had seen that image on a book that China Herran de Borgaleny had received the day before.
The next day, China came by and that is how we found out about the apparitions and messages of Garabandal.
In those days, Roy Harley’s grandmother arrived from the United States. After emptying her suitcases, her granddaughter began to play with them and heard a noise inside. Thinking it was a forgotten gift, she opened the suitcase and found a medal with the same image. When they asked the grandmother, she said that she did not know what medal it was; no one in New York would have thought about giving her a medal and much less medal of Our Lady. None of us shouted "Miracle!" but it did give us something to think about.
A few days later, Mrs. Ripia Ainas called to invite a group of us mothers "from the mountains" to show us something that for us would be of interest. Knowing nothing about what had happened beforehand, she showed us slides about the events of Garabandal. We did not need anything else to understand Our Dearest Mother’s call. We directed all of our prayers asking her to intercede before her Son so that our children could be brought home. In those days everyone spoke about Garabandal, a place unknown to us, and also about the visionaries and the Message. Imploring her for the return of our children, we prayed the Rosary with absolute faith that she, a mother like us, would obtain a miracle from her Son.
We felt she was very near to us the day when our anguish reached a peak with the news that the search and rescue efforts had ended. We knew our children were alive somewhere, but we were tortured by the thought of all the sufferings they were going through. My sister, Rosina, and I prayed the Rosary in tears. When we reached the mystery, “The Finding of Jesus in the Temple,” I heard a voice very clearly inside of me say, "If I suffered so much at the loss of my Son for three days, I fully understand your sorrow after so many days of having lost yours. Be at peace, they will return; I promise."
Days went by and the number of people praying to the Virgin of Garabandal for our children kept increasing. What faith! What strength! We were the ones who consoled friends and family that had come to accompany and comfort us. Seventy-two days went by. We assured the visitors that our children were alive and that Our Lady of Garabandal had promised they would return safely.
A curious thing happened. Only two names of the survivors had been given: Parrado y Conesa. Out of all the mothers that went to Chile to look for our children, without knowing if they were alive or not, all of us – except two who went because of a false notification – found our children alive.
Our Lady did not want to give them false hopes.
Two of my very dear friends did not show up at the airport. Distressed, I called them and both answered identically, “Sarita, I can’t go. “Something” is telling me that I shouldn’t go.”
In the plane, flying over the terrible mountain range, I saw a priest reading a newspaper in English. I went up to him to ask him to pray for us because we were going to look for our children. I asked him, “Father, do you speak Spanish?” “My daughter, I’ve spoken it since I was born.” He noticed the tension among us and asked, “What’s going on?” I told him who we were and that we had been praying to the Virgin of Garabandal. We were up there at six thousand meters over the terrible mountain range where our children had been, right under the plane. The priest said, “I was in Garabandal and I saw the Miracle [of the Host] with my own eyes!”
My soul felt tired, anguished, and broken, but I held on to my faith and to Our Lady, and felt a great peace.
A few hours after this amazing encounter that was too great to be a coincidence, I had my oldest son Eduardo in my arms while my sister Rosina had her son Adolfito in hers.
Sara Urioste de Strauch, Uruguay
Testimony of Rosina V. Strauch
The plane left Montevideo, Uruguay on October 12, 1972, and crashed the next day. It was the anniversary of the last apparition of the Virgin of Fatima and the great miracle of Fatima. It was “a sign from God” that made us think that Our Lady would take our children under her care.
Days later a friend brought me a holy card of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Garabandal and said, "The Virgin wants to perform miracles so that her Message, received by the little girls in Garabandal, might be made known."
This encouraged many mothers to get together every day to pray the Rosary to the Virgin for a miracle. It had been such a hopeless situation that when it was resolved favorably [for the survivors], the world called it, "The Miracle of the Andes."
The search for the airplane was carried out by government and private planes. People began to visit with their condolences, which we did not accept, telling them that Our Lady of Garabandal would bring our children back by Christmas. So it happened. Newspapers, magazines, radio, and even ham radio operators from every corner of the globe were talking about Garabandal.
Funeral Masses were celebrated for the passengers and crew. We, with other mothers, never doubted they were alive, but suffered thinking of what they were going through.
We read the book, The Apparitions of Garabandal, by Francisco Sanchez Ventura y Pascal, saw films of the girls in ecstasy, and even asked ourselves if after our miracle occurred we should report it to the Pope in Rome.
There is a group here that promotes the message. Teresa Terra is one of them and she wrote to Conchita – one of the visionaries - telling her everything that happened in Uruguay.
This was our encounter with Mary in those seventy-two days of hope.
Rosina V. de Strauch, Uruguay