On January 31, 1906, an earthquake having a magnitude of 8.8 on the Richter scale, occurred off the coast of Columbia. Ranking as one of the ten worst on record, it caused a tsunami that was felt as far north as San Francisco and as far west as Japan.
In Panama City, it picked up boats and hurled them long distances, crashed into the market area and wreaked tremendous damage. The worst effects of the tsunami were concentrated along the northern parts of Ecuador and southern parts of Columbia. In the middle of this area, at the outer edge of a bay, lay the small island of Tumaco.
About 10:00 in the morning, the earth shook violently for ten minutes. The inhabitants begged the local pastor, Fr. Gerardo Larrondo, to lead a procession with the Blessed Sacrament. The sea had already penetrated a kilometer and a half inland. A wall of water was building up that threatened to swallow the entire island, which was only about 3 kilometers in length.
Fr. Larrondo consumed the small Hosts in the ciborium and set the large Host aside. He called out to his people: “Let us go, my people. Let us go toward the beach, and may God have pity on us.” Led by Fr. Larrondo and the Eucharist, they began to march. Fr. Larrondo advanced courageously to the water’s edge and as the wave came rushing in he calmly raised the Sacred Host and traced the sign of the Cross.
The wave halted and then receded. Fr. Larrondo and Fr. Julian alongside him saw what was transpiring . The people, overjoyed, cried out “Miracle, miracle!”
The miracle of Tumaco became known across the world, and Fr. Larrondo received letters from people all over Europe asking for his prayers.