“Our Lady of Sorrows”
LA CODOSERA, CHANDAVILA, SPAIN (1945)
On May 27, 1945, ten-year old Marcelina Barroso Exposito and her cousin Augustina were walking to the village on an errand for her mother. The girls were walking through an area known as Chandavila when they noticed something strange in the distance. They were about to ignore it, but then a strange force somehow propelled them to the chestnut tree where they had seen something odd. Floating a little above the ground was the image of Our Lady of Sorrows. She was easily identified by the black robe and mantle that she wore. Stars embellished her gown and sparkled all about her. Her hands were joined, and her beautiful face bore every mark of deep pain and overwhelming sadness. Marcelina alone saw the Lady, and when the vision disappeared, she ran with her cousin to the village. Her message was actually greeted with great excitement.
Days later on the morning of June 4, 1945, Marcelina returned to the place of the apparition and beheld the Virgin once again. This time Blessed Mary spoke, telling her to return in the afternoon when she would then ask the girl to perform a sacrifice in the presence of all who attended. Word got around quickly as one thousand people of both Spanish and Portuguese nationalities eagerly attended. Marcelina went into an ecstasy on the way to the site as hundreds observed her in that surreal condition. At the sight of the chestnut tree she stopped and beheld the vision of the Virgin Mary at some distance. Our Lady invited the girl to crawl on her knees to her – a distance of about one hundred feet. The Virgin reassured her,
“Fear not. Nothing will harm you. I will be putting before you a reed mat and herbs so that you will not be hurt.”
Marcelina’s mother fainted upon seeing her daughter in an ecstatic state and starting to crawl on he knees over sharp rocks and rugged terrain. The child stopped and remained kneeling by the tree for about ten minutes. Marcelina saw the glorious image of a beautiful church with the Virgin Mary appearing on the altar. Blessed Mary invited the child to dip her fingers in holy water and bless herself. When the child crawled closer to the Virgin, Blessed Mary asked Marcelina if she would like to join her in heaven.
The child answered enthusiastically, “Yes, Ma’am, now!” Blessed Mary smiled and kissed Marcelina on the forehead. As she did so, the mantle of the Mother of God softly touched Marcelina’s face. The Virgin then requested that a chapel be built at this place of the apparitions. When the vision disappeared, Marcelina was no longer ecstatic and began talking normally with her friends.
But the pastor of Codosera, Father Juan Antonio Galan y Galan, began checking the girl for injuries. So did her friends as they all examined her knees and body – but could not find any scratches, bruises, or any type of injury. It was amazing to everyone!
With each encounter that Marcelina had with the Blessed Mother, more and more people attended. One of these pilgrims was a 17-year old girl, Afra Blanco Brigade, who had come with her friends on May 30, 1945. Upon her arrival, she thought she saw something dark in the clouds. The next day, she again went to the place of the apparitions and once again saw the dark object. This time it drew closer until it was clearly recognizable as Our Lady of Sorrows. This vision proved to be emotionally overwhelming for Afra who fell into a deep faint.
A few days later, Afra’s grandmother died. While dressed in mourning, Afra’s friends approached her and insisted that she join them for another visit to the apparition site. She agreed and actually knelt down next to visionary Marcelina. Blessed Mary revealed herself to both girls at the same time. The Virgin imparted a secret to Afra, predicted great suffering, and then asked Afra to kiss Marcelina. Our Lady asked for the recitation of the Rosary. She then asked again for a chapel to be constructed on this spot.
Days later, Afra and Marcelina went to Villar del Ray and stayed there from July 21 through July 24, giving thanks to the Virgin Mary for all the favors received. While making the Way of the Cross there, Afra became ecstatic at the eleventh station and saw the sufferings of Our Lord and his Crucifixion. Suddenly, she felt a sharp pain on the palms of both hands and discovered than an incision in the center of each was dripping blood and causing excruciating pain. Eventually, the stigmata were present on both feet and then were seen to penetrate deeper into the hands. The pain continued and the blood flowed mainly on Fridays in commemoration of Our Lord’s Crucifixion. Afra underwent numerous medical examinations, but treatments to heal the wounds were unsuccessful. It was noted that a sweet fragrance accompanied the stigmata.
Marcelina became a religious in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross in 1975 and took the name Sister Mary of Mercy of the Cross. This Order was dedicated to the care of the sick, orphans, the poor and elderly. She eventually joined a cloistered convent in Ciudad Real. Afra worked for many years in a hospital in Madrid until her death on August 23, 2008, at the age of eighty – after a long and painful illness.
A beautiful church, which enveloped the chestnut tree and apparition site, was eventually built. The Bishop of Badajoz gave permission for the construction of the church as well as approval for the apparitions and Expression of Faith.