Land of christian reconquest
Garabandal is situated in a region where the Christian reconquest in the eighth century played a key role for the survival of all Christendom.
To better understand Garabandal's history, we must first retreat a few hundred years ago, when the Christian reconquest began in the region of Asturias. I want to inform you that Garabandal is a neighboring village of this region that was probably populated around this time of the reconquest. Garabandal is in Covadonga and a few kilometers from the monastery of Liebana, right next to it.
Between the fifth and eighth centuries, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Iberian peninsula was invaded by the Germanic peoples (year 409 to 711 AD), among them the Suevi and the Visigoths that prevailed in almost all the Iberian peninsula, through the establishment of various monarchies that have been succeeding over time. Numerous battles were made between these two peoples, since both were their intentions to govern all the Iberian peninsula. On several occasions the Visigothic peoples had aid of the Roman empire, with purely strategic and political objectives. Nevertheless, in the less Romanized zone of the northwest of Hispania, they resisted again the invading of these germanic towns, the towns of Asturias and of Cantabria, regions where Garabandal is located.
In the record of history, the journey of the apostle Santiago to Hispania was indicated. This information is indicated in the sacred Bible, in the epistle to the Romans. According to Tertullian (a famous Latin writer of the second century AD), the entrance of Christianity extended to the peninsular north with real success, in particular in the settlements of the region of Cantabria and Asturias, that had so much resisted to the invades Roman. It can be affirmed with certainty that already in century II D. there were some Christian communities in these regions. The first Christian martyrs of this region were Saint Emmetius and Celedonius of the region of Santander, persecuted for having embraced the Christian faith, because at that time Christians were still considered enemies of the Roman empire.
Between the fifth and eighth centuries, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Iberian peninsula was invaded by the Germanic peoples (year 409 to 711 AD), among them the Suevi and the Visigoths that prevailed in almost all the Iberian peninsula, through the establishment of various monarchies that have been succeeding over time. Numerous battles were made between these two peoples, since both were their intentions to govern all the Iberian peninsula. On several occasions the Visigothic peoples had aid of the Roman empire, with purely strategic and political objectives. Nevertheless, in the less Romanized zone of the northwest of Hispania, they resisted again the invading of these germanic towns, the towns of Asturias and of Cantabria, regions where Garabandal is located.The Visigothic peoples eventually extended all their dominion to the Iberian peninsula, this already in the reign of the monarch visigodo Leovigildo. Leovigildo's son, Hermenegildo later converted to Catholicism, a religion contrary to that of the majority of the Visigoths, who practiced Arianism. A few centuries later, Hermenegildo was considered a martyr of the Catholic Church, patron of the converts, and was later canonized by Pope Sixtus V. Hermenegildo was killed and beheaded on Easter Sunday for having affirmed his Christian faith, which was contrary his Father's Day. His Holy Day is celebrated on the 13th of April. After the death of Leovigildo, the King Visigoth Recaredo also converted to Catholicism at the Third Council of Toledo in 589 AD, and thus marks the beginning of a close alliance between the Visigothic monarchy and the Iberian Catholic Church, developed markedly along the century VIII.
After the conquest of the Arabs in the 8th century, great Visigothic monarchs who reigned at that time fled to the region of Asturias, a region that was beyond the reach of the Muslim conquest, among them the official Pelayo. It was in this region of Asturias, in Covadonga, that the famous and important Battle of Covadonga took place. This was the first major victory of the Christian military forces in the Iberian Peninsula following the Arab invasion in 711 AD. A decade after these events, probably in the summer of 722, the victory of Covadonga ensured the survival of Christian sovereignty in the North of the Iberian Peninsula, being considered by many to be the beginning of the Christian reconquest
Seven years after the Arab invasion of Hispania, Pelayo de Asturias, a noble descendant of the Visigothic monarchs, managed to oust a provincial governor, Munuza, of the Asturian district in the north-west of the peninsula. He still managed to hold the territory against countless attacks from the Arabs. Soon the Kingdom of Asturias was established, which would become the Christian region of sovereignty against Islamic expansion. Pelayo, though incapable of containing Muslims in many situations, survived and enlivened the movement for the Christian Reconquest.
In order for this to be possible, Pelayo distributed his men, putting them on the tops of the hills with the aim of attacking and wounding the Islamic enemy. To the deprived of weapons, he equipped them with levers and pickaxes to remove the stones and make them fall on the assailants, while he, with as many soldiers as he could muster, ambushed himself in a cave or cave, called by the natives of "the cave of Covadonga, "and there waited patiently for the arrival of the Moors, fervently commending himself and his remaining soldiers to God and to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Alkamar, after Dom Pelayo's withdrawal from Cangas de Onis, thought that panic had been installed among Christians. Alkamar's confidence in the almost certain victory against the Christians caused him to enter boldly in the narrow throat that gives access to mount Auseba and the cave of Covadonga. This great and truly epic struggle began, and the memory will be preserved as long as the world exists: the Muslims, numerous and well-armed, the Christians very few, and most of them with no other weapons than the ones that nature had at their disposal in those abrupt places, but full of trust in God and in the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Virgin. A rain of arrows announced to the Christians the fierce attack of the Moors, but their surprise had no limits when they found that before the forces of Don Pelayo responded to the attack, many of the Moors, wounded by the same arrows thrown against the Christians, fell to the ground giving screams of pain.
The stones and tree trunks thrown by the Christians from the heights of Mount Auseba also caused great damage to the army of the Moors, decimated at the same time by the arrows that the soldiers of Pelayo threw on them of the grotto of Covadonga, which always hurt, the Moors were trapped in the throat by which they could only attack. As a consequence of this disaster, Alkamar died in this battle and in its place was Suleiman, that tried to gain the foothills of mount Auseba,
At that precise moment of agitation, a furious storm broke, which increased the astonishment and terror of those who were already defeated. The sound of thunder, echo of which was reflected by a saw in the mountains, the rain that fell with great abundance, the stones and trees that fell on all sides of the Arabs, the soil that, with the rain, became slippery and slippery, and falling on those slopes, plunging them into the waters of the river Deva, where they were drowned, all contributed to the belief that the hand of the Lord even made the mountains crumble over the soldiers of Mafoma. Horrible was the death in the Moorish army, in that memorable battle, and whoever said that there was not one Moor alive! A small number of men, inside a cave or hidden among the rocks, were enough to annihilate, within a few hours, a mighty army. It is therefore necessary to recognize in this set of extraordinary and portentous circumstances something that seems to exceed the limits of the natural and human. On a few occasions the protection of heaven will have been more manifest, so it is no wonder that the writers of an age of such faith ascribe this miraculous victory to the mediation of the Virgin Mary, whose image Pelayo took with him to the cave. The immediate result of the battle of Covadonga was the proclamation of Pelayo like King of Asturias.
Because of the great miraculous intervention of the Blessed Virgin, King Dom Afonso I, the Catholic, ordered the erection of the monastery and chapel of Our Lady of Covadonga. They gave him this title because of the cave in which they fought Don Pelayo and his warriors, where was placed the image of Our Lady that Don Pelayo had taken to the memorable cave, that previously was placed in a small hermitage, near the grotto . The ancient hermitage and cave or cave that Don Pelayo used to await the attack of the Moors are the two places that currently attract the attention of the pilgrims.
"When the Muslims marched on the bank of the river that is called Deva, near the town they call Cosgaya, it happened by Judgment of God that this mountain, revolving from its foundations, threw to the river the 63,000 men , and there buried them all the mountain, where still now that river, when it returns to its channel, shows many evident signs of them.
After the conquest of Covadonga, the Asturian kingdom was established with D. Pelayo, succeeded by Alfonso I, son of his collaborator, Duke Pedro de Cantabria, who married Ermesinda, daughter of the leader of Covadonga, D. Pelayo.
This king of Cantabrian blood was responsible for the settlement and organization of the territory of Liebana with Christians from various places, with the aim of creating a strategic void as a frontier against the Islamists located in the Douro valley. Among them came monks who settled in numerous places, founding several monasteries like the one of San Martin de Turieno, that with time became Santo Toribio de Liébana, located to few kilometers of Garabandal. Among these new settlements may also have arisen the village of Garabandal. In fact, the traces of secular religiosity are engraved on the stones of some houses of this village.