Alexandrina de Balasar




The old interior


In the Autobiography, Alexandrina says that she “liked much to go to the church”. Among other reasons it could be that it was a new church with very attractive furnishings, particularly the main altar. Effectively, when it opened to the cult, in 1907, the small Alexandrina was only three years old. The previous one was where the cemetery is today and it dated from the 15th century. For the localization of the current church, the importance of the devotion to the Holy Cross of Balasar was certainly taken into account.

A photograph of the exterior, from Fr Pinho’s archives, shows it to us as it was in Alexandrina’s time: the structural differences in relation to the present are minimal.

It is not certain that Dona Ana da Costa’s second daughter was baptized there: if the work of the new church lasted four years, as Fr Leopoldino writes, and finished in 1907. Then they started in 1903, and she was born and baptized in 1904. During the period of its construction the chapel of D. Benta Farm served as the parochial church. Did the child receive baptism in that chapel? The register of the time only says that it took place “in this parochial church of Saint Eulália of Balasar”.

One of the pictures that better give us account of the interior of the Parochial Church of Balasar – the one that Alexandrina knew - is the picture of the interior which also came from Fr Pinho’s archive. The retable of the main altar, of neo-classic inspiration, is a gorgeous composition. At the centre, a panel shows the Good Shepherd looking after His sheep. Below the panel, behind the altar, can seen the rich baldachin of the tabernacle, offered by Alexandrina.

On the reverse of the photograph, Fr Pinho has placed this note: “Parochial Church of Balasar – on the main altar can be seen the beautiful tabernacle (to the value of 10$000,00), offered by Alexandrina”. 10$000,00 are of course 10,000$00, or ten «contos». Even without knowing the exact date when the tabernacle (indeed, a baldachin of the tabernacle) was acquired – some time in the 1940s or ’50s – it is a very meaningful sum.

The general composition tends towards to an elegance, perhaps of Rococo inspiration. For a Mary of the Calvary-Tabernacles as Alexandrina was, it had something of Calvary. Indeed, on the baldachin proper rises a cup, from the centre of which rises a crucifix. As the Blood of the Crucified One collects in the cup, two doves drink from it. The Eucharistic symbolism is clear.

On the importance of the Bld. Alexandrina’s devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, there is much to quote; let’s read this fragment from the Autobiography:


I did not leave any day to pray the stations, to visit the Blessed Sacrament, to meditate, to be in the church, to be at home, even on the roads, without always making a spiritual communion in this manner:

“O my Jesus, come to my poor heart! Ah, I desire You, do not delay!

Come to enrich me with Your graces; increase in me Your holy and divine love. Join me to Yourself! Hide me in Your Sacred Breast! (…)”


The main chapel has something of the appearance of a tabernacle, with its tent-like covering. On the right side of the church are placed an image of the Little Flower, the harmonium, the pulpit and a confessional. The Little Flower, because of the similarities that join her and Alexandrina, (once the French Carmelite even promised her that she would come to receive her as she passed into eternity), the harmonium – was this a gift from Alexandrina too? - to facilitate singing, for which Alexandrina says she had a mad passion:


It was when I twelve years of age that I was given the post of catechist and singer; I worked with much pleasure, as much in one post as in the other, but for singing I can say that I had a mad passion.


The confessional - she also offered one.

And as for the pulpit, it is represented because from it, or what existed before it, on the north side, Fr Pinho would have preached many times.

Indeed, in the other wall of the church there is a second pulpit, a memento of old times. That one represented the Holy Family.

The new interior


The works of 1978 radically transformed the main chapel of the Church of Balasar but also leave it very beautiful, though in a modern style that bears no likeness to the one before.

Where before carvings dominated today plain granite has taken over; but it has remained a structure of great dignity and harmony.

Alexandrina’s tomb can now be found at the left of the main altar. To appreciate its importance, it is necessary to know this prodigal promise that Jesus made in June 1946:


I promise you – trust me - that after your death all the souls that visit your tomb will be saved, so long as they do not continue in sin and thus abuse the great favour I give them because of you.

In order that those who visit your tomb be saved, other graces needed, but those graces will be given to them by you.

In 2006 an image of Alexandrina was placed next to her tomb. The blessing had taken place on 13th October. Taking advantage of the circumstance, the tomb was considerably remodelled, with an overall positive effect. The image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is very beautiful, original and with a stylised cross used to good effect, and a crown of thorns at the height of the horizontal crosspiece. This was done with a recommendation of Alexandrina’s in mind. The back of the “book” that covers the sepulchre was raised so as to be easier to read; the letters be of the book are those of the message that hung on the back wall, they have been gilded to provide a more artistic effect.


At the right side was placed a rich reliquary, which contains a small bone of Alexandrina.

We have already spoken elsewhere about the attractive stained-glass of this church.


To complete this reference to the Parochial Church of Balasar, it is interesting to note some articles of artistic value that belong to it, namely a processional cross, and the images of St Eulália, St Antão, and St. Augustine, all dating from the 17th century or perhaps even earlier.


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