I know only
some numbers of the Blessed Alexandrina Society Newsletter. From them, I copy
out some extracts. They show how deeply the Society has understood Alexandrina’s
message and how far the same Society has spread Alexandrina’s name. Let us see:
founding of the Alexandrina Society
Chinese Proverb says “A journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step”
and that was exactly what happened after we took our first tentative steps in
founding the Alexandrina Society and in having our inauguration Mass in Redhills,
Co. Cavan on 23 05 ‘93. Francis Reynolds (Belturbet), whose mission it is to
make Alexandrina known and loved, took the decision to found an Alexandrina
Society in Ireland. So the Society was born, and spread, with inquiries over the
intervening years from as far afield as Australia, East Timor. Canada, the USA,
Singapore and Kenya. Nearer home we have members in almost every county in
Ireland and the U.K. His dream is becoming a reality. (N.
Beatification of Alexandrina Maria da Costa
Ten years ago
our founder, Francis Reynolds, was given a message by the Holy Spirit to make
Alexandrina’s life more widely known. The command was “Talk to People, Tell
Them”. This he has tried to do with the help of so many wonderful and faithful
members. What a great joy it was to be told Alexandrina was to be beatified and
this to happen in our lifetime! Many members went to Rome for this wonderful
occasion and others went to Alexandrina’s hometown of Balasar, Portugal.
from Rome :
Beatifies Alexandrina Maria da Costa
John Paul II beatified Alexandrina Maria da Costa and five other people at
9:30am on Sunday 25th April 2004. His Holiness said, “They discovered that the
love of Christ is the secret of holiness”.
beatified with a Polish priest Augustus Czartoryski, a Columbian nun Laura
Montoya, a Mexican nun Maria Guadalupe Gracia Zavala, an Italian nun Nemesia
Valle and a Spanish nun Eusebia Palomino. Alexandrina was the only layperson.
The ceremony was
held in front of 20,000 pilgrims, gathered in St Peter’s Square. There was
tremendous applause when Alexandrina’s name was announced, especially from the
Portuguese, the Scottish and the Irish contingent, along with many more pilgrims
from other parts of the world.
and celebration was evident among the pilgrims. It was an emotional moment for
many. There were tears of joy and disbelief by faithful followers of
Alexandrina. It was a proud moment for all who have helped spread her name and
for those who have prayed for her beatification. Her banners were held high,
triumphantly in glory and honour, throughout the crowd.
Amid all the
applause the Pope incited, “Let us follow the example of these blessed! Like
them, let us offer a consistent testimony of faith and love in the living and
working presence of the Risen One”.
The Pontiff also
added about Alexandrina, that she a laywoman of the Union of Salesian
Co-operators relived mystically the Passion of Christ and offered herself as a
victim for sinners, receiving strength from the Eucharist that became the sole
nourishment of the last 13 years of her life.
submitted the trilogy that represented her life, “Suffer, Love, Repair”, to the
faithful, so that they can “find the stimulus and motivation to enable
everything that is painful and sad in life with the proof of greater love”, to
sacrifice ones life for the beloved.
Our Group from
Ireland met afterwards with the group from Fatima and Balasar. They exchanged
thoughts and congratulations. They were invited to Alexandrina’s first mass in
the Vatican the next morning.
from Braga, the diocese of Balasar, and thirteen bishops celebrated the Mass. It
was a wonderful occasion. This was the highlight of the week, for our
pilgrimage: everyone was elated. The next five days were spent visiting the
sites of Rome and Assisi.
everything went well and they all returned home with many happy memories.
from Balasar, Portugal
On the glorious
morning 25th April ‘04, every road to Balasar was thronged with pilgrims. They
came in their thousands, walking, black-clothed or in a kaleidoscope of bright
colours — depending on age. Many would have walked miles from places as far away
as Guimarães, Amarante, Vidago and Mirandela. Coaches and cars were bumper to
bumper with parking places at a premium.
It was the day
of Alexandrina’s Beatification. The sun was shining, God was in Heaven, all was
right with the world, and the Portuguese were preparing to celebrate.
Alexandrina Maria da Costa “the sick woman of Calvary” as she was known to
everybody, was about to receive the penultimate honour that the Church bestows.
Since she only
died in 1955, there were doubtless people present who had met and
remembered her — as up to 6,000 people would have walked through her room in a
morning, we (four members belonging to the Irish Branch of Alexandrina Society)
were picked up at our hotel by Maria Ramoa, our lovely warm and friendly guide
for the day, and our driver, Senhor Maia. We travelled in great style in our
mini coach with the Póvoa de Varzim crest on the side; waved on by the men with
the armbands (‘lockards”). Unbelievably, and despite the crown, were taken to
the church door and escorted into the Sacristy where we were advised, “walk out
after the Celebrants”. All this without any cajoling or asking! Alexandrina had
decided to look after her Irish friends.
We got seats
close to the Choir — the Portuguese people are singers and that morning they
were preparing to sing their hearts out. Sometime — hopefully — we will get the
melody of the Alexandrina hymn, which must have been composed specially for the
occasion. As we face the altar for Mass, Alexandrina’s tomb in on the left hand
side of high altar. One of the requests she made was that after here death “if
it is not prohibited by Holy Church, I would like to have on my coffin many
flowers, not because I merit them, but because I love them”. On Sat. 24th we
left a bouquet of flowers (carnations) at her tomb with green, white and orange
ribbons, and a card “from the Alexandrina Society, Ireland”.
On either side
of the church, hung two large TV screens, and with perfect timing, just as the
Mass ended, we were linked up with the ceremonies in St. Peter’s where the
beatification was to take place. First the huge crowd, and then incredibly in
their midst, the camera picked up our Alexandrina banner being held by Susan and
Ursula! Then the picture of Alexandrina was beamed into the church in Balasar.
That same church where until age 19 she was still able to drag herself to, and
where sitting hunched over she would remain in prayer to the great amazement of
parishioners. Now, thanks to technology, her picture was being shown there, this
time not as a poor cripple but as one about to receive a high honour of the
Church. As the image of Alexandrina was shown, Pope John Paul could be heard
pronouncing the solemn words of her beatification. It was truly one moment in
time All rose and clapped, Alexandrina, who for so long had remained
hidden from the world and aloof from its vanities and praises was, as requested
by Jesus, being made known to many. And we, in our own small way, have helped
carry out this request. (N.L. 43)
The following is
a brief extract from Fr. Gerard Ellis’ homily at Knock:
frail young girl already suffering from the effects of a 16ft. fall, was asked
to accept the same suffering as Christ — not just once, but over one hundred
times. Against the question as to how she endured such an ordeal, the answer is
that her doing so cannot be explained save that it was by the power of
God Himself. He ordained to nourish her solely with the most Holy Eucharist for
many years, proving that with God all things are possible. This does not reduce
our admiration of her heroic endurance, her wonderful love of the Lord and her
remarkable concern for the salvation of souls. Her wonderful life calls on us
not only to admire her complete oblation and unflinching courage but also to
imitate her in making everything we do a sacrifice for the same cause. Let us
ask her intercession as we plead for her to be elevated to the honour of
Sainthood.” (N.L. 38)
John wrote the
following letter to the Society from Pompano Beach, Florida in 1995.
Alexandrina and Our dear Lord, who wishes her to be known, worked a wonder this
morning. Your letter sent to me in New Jersey arrived yesterday but I was busy
finalising the next issue of the magazine (Voice) and I did not happen to open
your letter until early this morning. By that time the magazine was finished. In
an article about Alexandrina. The completed copy was already in the
Fedex mailer to be sent by overnight mail to the office in California. But I had
not yet sealed it.
your letter I opened it up, got my portable computer out again and changed the
article to include your address. The chances of this happening by accident are
astronomical. This article on Alexandrina was supposed to have been printed
last year, but for some reason was put off. I have
never in my life, to the best of my memory, opened mail at 5.00am. But the story
is not over. I had put only your address in Ireland on the
article. (This was all between 5.00am when I got up and 7.00am when I finished
altering the article and went to Mass). After Communion it occurred to me
that not many would want to write to Ireland. So I added the address of LAF (Lay
Apostolate Foundation) who promote the causes of Lay people of heroic virtue and
make them known. It occurred to me that through LAF we will get the Alexandrina
Society going here in America. It is just what is needed: a sharing among
devotees and a bulletin publishing favours.” (N.L. 36)
A letter from
Muriel Fernando, Negombo, Sri Lanka, says, “I am a retired teacher, educated by
the Irish Good Shepherd Nuns. A twenty-year civil war between the Government and
the Tamil terrorists has left our country crippled and devastated. The Tamils
are planting bombs in crowded trains and buses, killing innocent
civilians. I have organised a number of prayer groups in neighbouring
parishes. We are now storming heaven with our prayers. I need literature and
prayer cards (Alexandrina) to distribute.” (N.L. 35)
Julie and her
husband had been trying for over two years to sell their business but had no
luck. Plenty of people wanted it - but for next to nothing. It includes a lovely
4-bedroom house. The shop is a village General Store that sells everything,
newspapers and Lottery tickets included. It has a very good turnover. Julie
started praying in earnest to Alexandrina and in two weeks they had it
sold. She says, it was Alexandrina who sold it! (N.L. 36)
Adhiambo wrote from Kericho, Kenya to say ‘How happy I am to have received
‘The Agony and the Glory’. I wanted to reply immediately but every time I
sat down to do so, I felt drawn in reading the book. Her life has deeply
touched me. 1 am giving the book to my friends to read.”
Alexandrina’s heroic virtues will become known and she will be loved in Kenya. (N.L.
An Indian priest
in Maynooth (no name given) asks prayers for vocations. (N.L. 35)
U.S.A.) asks Alexandrina to intercede for special needs for her family.