"It's already been kissed"
Francisco García Bañuelos is the grandson of Mr. Vitoriano, who was the school teacher in San Sebastián de Garabandal sometime before the apparitions took place. In the year 1961, Francisco lived in Santander and was 17 years old. He received the first news about what was happening in his parents’ town in the Hospital of Valdecilla, where he was hospitalized during the whole summer due to an accident. When his family would come to see him, they spoke about the four girls who claimed to see the Virgin Mary. But Francisco had to wait until he recuperated to be able to go up to San Sebastián de Garabandal. That is when he was able to find out for himself what was happening.
He has witnessed many apparitions and amazing situations. Many times he saw them from his privileged position as one of the town’s young men, who would surround the girls to protect them from the crowds that were anxious to see events up close. For example, he formed part of the human chain along with other young men on the night the girls read the First Message. It was October 18, 1961, a terrible night. It rained and rained without ceasing upon thousands of outsiders who had come to hear the message. It was completely dark, and the only light at the Pines were a few flashlights. People pushed them, trying to get closer to the girls and, most of all, trying to hear them. In the middle of the hustle, he lost one of his shoes. He passed the rest of the night, perhaps an hour and a half to two hours, walking barefoot among the rocks of the Calleja and the streets, which seemed more like a quarry than a town. People stepped on his foot the whole time, he slipped in the mud, tripped on stones in the darkness… When he finally arrived at his grandmother’s house, he washed his foot thinking he would find it completely destroyed: “I looked at it and thought that it had to be in bad shape because people had stepped on it… There wasn’t a scratch! Nothing at all. And I had been going around like that for an hour and a half or two hours.” Something similar happened on another occasion when following an ecstasy. He fell down and cut his knee. It was bleeding a lot so he went to wash it. When he rinsed off the blood, he found that there was no wound at all. There was no explanation, and if he had not lived it personally, Francisco would not have believed it, because as he says, “I was really skeptical.”
He was also lucky enough to see the Miracle of the Visible Communion on June 18, 1962. He was less than two meters away from Conchita and could see how an extremely white host had formed on the girl’s tongue. On several occasions during the ecstatic walks, he tried to follow the girls and found it to be impossible despite his young age and strength.
Surely, the experience that impressed him the most took place in 1963, when he was 19 years old. At that time, he was doing military service in El Pardo (Madrid). One day, he realized that the chain of his scapular medal had broken. As soon as he could, he sent it to his mother to have it fixed. His mother, having gone up to Garabandal, took advantage and gave it to the girls so that Our Lady could kiss the medal. It was among the many medals, which received the Virgin Mary’s kiss every day.
After some time, Francisco went home with permission and went up to the village. When he was in Garabandal, he gave his medal to Conchita, completely unaware that his mother had given it to her beforehand and that it had already been kissed. The girl took it, and when the time arrived, it was given to Our Lady among many other rosaries and medals that were hanging from her arms. That medal - Francisco’s scapular medal - was rejected with a kind gesture of Our Lady: “It has already been kissed.” Conchita took it out from the midst of the other medals – without it being tangled with the others – and gave it back to Francisco. His reaction was typical of that of a young man who had just turned nineteen: “I got really angry! I reproached my mother and was angry with her because she had not told me that it had been kissed. I felt that I had come off as stupid.”
That night, Francisco went to bed angry and without a reason. It seemed to him that he looked ridiculous in front of the whole town. But as time went by, he began to think: “How did the girl know that precisely that scapular medal had already been kissed?” With her head inclined back and her hands full of rosaries and medals… “How did she know that that medal had already been kissed?” How did she know, among all the objects she had, which medal was his? And finally, how did she know where he was among the crowd to give his medal back to him? So many questions without answers went through his mind… In the end, when his anger ceased and Francisco calmed down, he realized that, thanks to his mother, he had received a convincing sign about the truth of what the girls affirmed. It was a sign that Our Lady gave him.