Bld Alexandrina has benefited from the enthusiasm of very devoted
promoters. We want to mention the main ones here.
Jesuit Fr Marian Pinho (Oporto, 11.06.1894-Recife, Brazil,
11.07.1963), while he was in charge of the
direction, acted with the greatest discretion. He considered it
important that Alexandrina’s cult develop of itself, without
advertising; it would happen in its own pace. But at this time,
against his will and that of Alexandrina, she gained significant
notoriety with the publication of Fr Terças’ article. This notoriety
expanded in 1944, shortly before the arrival of Fr Umberto, when the
Archdiocese took its position of publicly confronting the Patient of
the commission into the Consecration of the world to the Immaculate
Heart of Mary had been conducted in such a way that, at the time,
almost nobody was aware of Alexandrina’s role in its initiation.
Jesus said that the departure of Fr Pinho for Brazil (in February
1946) was “the best way of his release”. Far removed from those who
pursued him, he would be able to intensify his activities. Until
1953 he lived in the town Salvador da Baía, in Fr António Vieira
College, and later in Recife, in Nóbrega College, dedicating himself
to pastoral activity in the domain of Christian formation and the
spiritual direction of laypeople.
terms of spreading the cult of Alexandrina, he wrote her first
biography, Uma Vítima da Eucaristia (A Victim of the
Eucharist), published, in 1956, only one year after her
death; this book was translated into French in 1958, with the title
Sous le Ciel de Balasar; later, in 1960, it was published in
Switzerland in a German translation that ran to a second edition.
Fr Mariano Pinho
1963, when he died, Fr Pinho was still editing a new biography No
Calvário de Balasar (On the Calvary of Balasar), which recently
saw its first edition published in Portugal. It is a work that
deserves the highest attention of the specialists.
the request of Fr Umberto, the Signoriles corrected the many
misprints of the Brazilian edition and translated it into Italian.
Pinho, who possessed a knowledge of Alexandrina that nobody could
equal, acquired during the nine year in which he directed her, and
from all the work involved in the process of realizing the
Consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, had not
read the thousands of pages of Feelings of the Soul, even if
he kept some writings that Fr Umberto did not have the opportunity
of referring to.
Whether it was on account of the international success of A
Victim of the Eucharist, or because of the promotion of
Alexandrina’s cult in Brazil, where he was in contact with the
Salesians (even in Recife), or for the acknowledged quality of On
the Calvary of Balasar, he contributed extensively to the spread
of the name of the soul he directed.
year, 2007, on 14th
October, his mortal remains came back to Balasar.
Umberto was born a century ago, in Vignole Borbera, near Turin,
Italy, on 1st
September 1906, and died in Rivoli,
March 1985. But he spent a lot of time in Portugal; it was during
his first period of residence, from 1932 to 1947, that he met
Alexandrina and became her spiritual director. The second period,
during which he was called upon to prepare the Diocesan Inquiry on
her case, was between 1964 and 1973. Also in this enquiry he was one
of the main witnesses.
he arrived in Balasar in the summer of 1944 he was, at 38 years of
age, already a man of experience. Ordained priest in Lisbon, in
1935, by the Cardinal Cerejeira, he opened a novitiate, Casa de
Mogofores in Anadia, Aveiro, in 1937. By 1939 he had transformed it
from a simple house for parochial activities into an oratory for
male religious, a refuge for youngsters and a kindergarten. That
none of this was easy, is attested by the fact that secular left
opened fire against him. From the beginning he saw the written word
as an important part of his apostolate so it was while he was in
Mogofores that he launched the Salesian Editions which was to become
prolific and influential under his direction. He himself wrote two
sets of ten booklets for the enterprise.
After 1944, Fr Umberto was always in contact, at least by letter,
with the Beata of Balasar. When in 1948 he returned to Italy, he
received her writings monthly. Therefore, he was able, as soon as
she died, to promulgate her work and become her main exponent.
first work that he published about her was the biography
Alexandrina in 1957. It is a long study of almost 400 pages. In
1965, when he initiated the preparation of the Process, he began the
publication of a collection of her writings: issued then as Tu
sei amore che tutto vince and Tu sei dolore che dà la vita.
Then, at the end of the same Process, he edited in Italian Voleva
chiudere l’Inferno, that had a Portuguese edition, in Balasar,
in 1967, with the title Eis a Alexandrina (Here is
1973, he published, in Turin, in a non-commercial edition, a volume
of 838 pages, the autobiography Cristo Gesù in Alexandrina.
The first 600 pages contain Beata’s writings, and the remainder an
important collection of documents. He also wrote various other books
about the theme, but they were of minor importance.
Among Fr Umberto’s many readers, some deserve to be mentioned. One
such is the Salesian priest, A. Rebesco, an
wrote L' Estatica, and which was translated into the Thai
language. Another is an English layman Francis Johnston, author of
the book Alexandrina the Agony and the Glory that made the
name of the Patient of Balasar known in the English- speaking world.
remarkable Italian political leaders were devoted of Alexandrina,
Giorgio La Pira and Oscar Luigi Scalfaro; there is no doubt that
this devotion was the result of Fr Umberto’s writings.
Another special example of disciples of this Salesian is the couple
Eugénie and Chiaffredo Signorile, of whom we will speak in due
Umberto knew well the message of Fatima, as it is confirmed by his
having received 166 letters from Sister Lucia. It is known that he
wrote the books Fatima and Balasar and
Eu Vi Nascer Fatima, but
also wrote: Da Fatima un Messaggio di Salvezza, Francesco il
Pastorello di Fatima, Giacinta la Pastorella di Fatima and La
Madonna a Suor Lucia, besides others on diverse subjects. The
centenary of his birth was marked in Turin by an appropriate
commemoration, the publication of his beautiful autobiography, with
the title Il Monello di Dio. The centenary did not also pass
unobserved in Portugal either.
Alexandrina’s doctor (the most important, because there were others)
did not publish any book on her. But we are justified in mentioning
him here for various reasons.
defended her, while still alive, from her detractors, and made
important contributions to the respect in which her name was to be
held, and even to its promotion. This he did in diverse ways,
particularly in the letters he wrote to many persons, from the
Archbishop, to the Pope, to the Provincial of the Jesuits (Fr Júlio
Marinho), and to others, including Fr Pinho and Fr Umberto, and in
the articles that he published in periodicals.
After the death of his “godmother”, he wrote monthly bulletin about
her for 14 years! If we link this with the 15 years during which he
administered to her while she was still alive, we have about 30
years of uninterrupted devotion.
would require a book to register and to evaluate the extent of the
work that the physician of Ribeirão (parish close to Balasar)
dedicated to his “Godmother” and to make a collection of all that he
us listen to this speech, transcribed from the periodical Ala-Arriba
(7/4/56) which Dr Azevedo gave in Balasar, on 28/1/56, and to
the picture that he paints of Alexandrina:
this act of appreciation and homage to her, whom we called with
affection The Little Patient of Balasar, I feel it my duty to
say some words of nostalgia, congratulations and gratitude.
Words of nostalgia, because the truth is that, with the elapse of
time, our sadness for the loss of our loved Alexandrina, seems to
become more acutely alive and the more so because we no longer hear
her angelical voice advising us in our doubts, enlivening us in the
fulfilment of our duty, in loving God more in out neighbour and, in
a word, in living a worthier and more Christian life. And this
nostalgia for Alexandrina can alone be alleviated in us by knowing
that her sufferings as a victim for our sins and the sins of the
world, towards her end, could not have been greater and that today
she is enjoying, as the reward of her heroic virtue, that ultimate
happiness, that St. Paul, in a sublime and unparalleled ecstasy, saw
and later defined as being what “the eye has not seen, nor the ear
heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man to conceive the joys
God has prepared for those who love Him”.
Words of congratulations. Yes, you deserve these congratulations for
your sentiments and practical expressions, since Alexandrina’s
death, and for the gift of the picture of her which has so
embellished your church. Soon after her death, you showed your pain
and your hope.
because you missed this extraordinary figure, the greatest glory of
Balasar, a glory for all times, a glory that citizens of the future
will say to belong to Portugal and to the entire world.
do not know, we do not know, what graces God created and accumulated
in the part of this parish called Calvary, but, after some time has
elapsed (without wanting to anticipate any definitive decision of
the Church), it will be said that she was an extraordinary mystical
soul, a propitiatory victim, one of those to whom Jesus referred
when speaking to a religious sister in the following terms:
celestial Father looks at them with special affability. They are the
enchantment of the Angels and of men. They are very few. They are
destined to serve as a defence in the face of the justice of the
Heavenly Father, and to obtain mercy for the world”.
showed, ladies and gentlemen, your hope, because if Alexandrina’s
funeral was an authentic glorification of her heroic and holy life,
you would want that to signify your assurance of a valuable source
of intercession for you in heaven.
Alexandrina’s angelical smile is telling us that we can count on her
and that we need not be discouraged in the tribulations of life. Our
greatest poet has said that the “way of virtue” is “high and craggy,
/ but in the end, sweet, glad and delightful”.
For to attain Heaven there is only a way, that of duty, of
repentance, of tribulations and crosses, and may Alexandrina’s life
and smile stimulate us to follow it and to embrace it. Let us be
sure of her intercession for us, before God, whom she adored so
selflessly, and before the Immaculate Virgin, for whom she burned
Words of gratitude for you and your parish priest. The Rev. Abbot,
during Alexandrina’s life, was untiring in giving her daily what she
so desired, her beloved Jesus (her only food during thirteen and a
half years) and who, since her death, has been untiring in
revealing, by means of articles in the Press and preaching, the
virtues of this heroic and angelical soul, that was our beloved and
blessed Little Patient. May God give him many healthy years so that
he may continue to teach us where the truth is and where the
falsehood; so that he may continue to proclaim justice, because it
is an act of justice to tell the world who Alexandrina was.
all of you, who in one way or another respect and cherish the memory
of Alexandrina, be sure that she in Heaven and will not forget you
and, grateful as she ever was, will make sure that you want for
nothing. In your pains and joys ask for her intercession and, when
her good offices are show fruit, continue by way of duty and
gratitude, to give account of the graces received to the Rev. Abbot,
to whom the ecclesiastical authorities have trusted the recording.
the end of the biography Alexandrina Fr Umberto alludes to
the episode of the disclosure of the picture.
What he writes is worth reading:
months after her death, during a solemn manifestation, the figure of
Alexandrina smiled on all in the large picture that was inaugurated
in the parochial hall of Balasar, as a signal of esteem and
gratitude for how much she had done for her native land while still
According to Fr Francisco, the picture that is mentioned here is
probably the one that today can be seen, much aged, above the bed,
in her room.
Signoriles are an Italian couple, Mathematics and Physics teachers
at the Liceo Beccaria, in Milan, who made an intensive study of Bld
Alexandrina. They collaborated with Fr Umberto Pasquale at the time
of the Diocesan Informative Process, which took place in Braga
between 1967 and 1973, translating the five thick volumes of
Sentiments of the Soul.
Chiaffredo, born 9th
October 1913 in Stroppo, in the province of Cuneo, died on 13th
October 1999. But his wife, Professor Eugénie Signorile, born
September 1914 in Milan, still publishes books on Alexandrina.
Neither of them knew Alexandrina during her lifetime.
Works published by the Signoriles with authorship attributed to
Figlia del dolore, madre di amore. Quasi una autobiografia,
Mimep-Docete, Pessano (MI), 1993 (768 pages).
Signore, mio Dio!
Come pregava Alexandrina, Mimep-Docete, Milan, 1992 (A
Portuguese translation was published with the title Vida Interior
da Beata Alexandrina, Apostolado da Oração, Braga, 2004, with
authorship attributed to Eugénie and Chiaffredo Signorile).
Maria, mia Madre. Come Alexandrina sente la Madonna,
Mimep-Docete, Pessano (MI), 1987.
Anima pura, cuore di fuoco,
Mimep-Docete, Pessano (MI), 1990 (widely illustrated; it has been
translated into English and Portuguese, but not published).
Venite (richiami di Gesù),
Mimep-Docete, Pessano (MI), 1991.
Mimep-Docete, Pessano (MI), 1999.
sete di voi,
Mimep-Docete, Pessano (MI), 2004.
Solo per Amore!,
Mimep-Docete, Pessano (MI), 2006 (this book, conceived as an
autobiography, has already translated into Portuguese and English;
it is a highly thought of work).
Mimep-Docete, Milan, 2007.
Works published with authorship attributed the C.E. Signorile:
Croce e sorriso,
Associazione “Sotto il manto di Maria Regina della Pace”, Gorgonzola
(MI), 2002 (there is Portuguese translation with the heading
Sorrindo à dor, Cavaleiro da Imaculada, Oporto, 2001, with
authorship attributed to Alexandrina Maria da Costa).
Sulle ali del dolore,
Gamba Edizioni, Gorgonzola (MI), 2004.
Alexandrina, voglio imparare da te,
Gamba Edizioni, Gorgonzola (MI), 2004 (this work, conceived as a
vade-mecum for Alexandrina’s friends, is translated into Portuguese;
in the Monthly Page of the Official Website it is also translated
into Spanish, English, French and still, in part, in German and
Work published in
collaboration with Giulio Giacometti and Piero Sessa:
Gloria dell'Uomo dei Dolori nel sorriso di Alexandrina,
Edizioni Segno, Tavagnacco (UD), 2005.
THE “ALEXANDRINA SOCIETY”
English-speaking world knows Alexandrina for the most part through
the book of Francis Johnston, Alexandrina: the Agony and the
Glory. But the founder of the Alexandrina Society was an
Irishman, also a layman, Francis Reynolds.
association was created in 1993. According to Jocie McEvoy, a lady
who is passionate about Alexandrina and an active member of the
Alexandrina Society, 30 people attended the first meeting of the
Society which now has 1.000 or more members. They are not all
active, but there exists an enthusiastic “hard core”, which never
loses a chance to make Alexandrina known. There are members from all
over Ireland, a good number in Great Britain and a strong branch in
Scotland. There are also members in Australia, East Timor,
Philippines, Singapore, Kenya, Portugal, Canada and United States. A
quarterly bulletin is sent to associates.
follows, from a dossier sent by Jocie McEvoy, the first page of a
speech which Francis Reynolds once delivered on the subject
“Alexandrina and the Importance of the Holy Eucharistic in Our
1992 it was my privilege to be given a mission by the Holy Sprit, to
make known to the world the wonderful spiritual life of an
extraordinary woman, Alexandrina da Costa, and her great love and
union with God, to whom she offered her life of suffering for the
conversion of sinners.
It seemed a gigantic mission, but God didn’t leave me on my own. He
sent some wonderful people to join me, and with their help people
all over the world are gradually getting to hear the name and learn
of the life of Alexandrina Maria da Costa.
those who are not familiar with her life I will give you a few facts
to put you in the picture.
Alexandrina was born in Portugal in 1904 and lived there until her
death in 1955. When she was a young girl some men tried to molest
her, and, to safeguard her purity, she jumped from an upstairs
window damaging her spine; this led to her being paralyzed for the
last thirty years of her life.
Although paralysed, Alexandrina would arise from her bed and suffer
the Passion of Our Lord, from the Agony in the Garden to the Death
on the Cross, with visible signs of suffering, as Jesus did, and in
such a vivid manner that it always brought tears to the eyes of all
who watched. This took place on Friday between 12 noon and 3 p.m.
After each passion she would return to her paralysed state. This
continued for three and a half years, and was always witnessed by
Alexandrina lived for thirteen and a half years on the Holy
Eucharist. Nothing else passed her lips during all that time and she
still remained unchanged in appearance with no loss of weight nor
loss of control of her senses.
During these times many people called upon Alexandrina asking for
prayers and cures of all kinds; they were always very interested in
the many visions she had of Jesus and Mary and all wanted to know
how to save their souls.
Alexandrina who offered her life of suffering for the conversion of
sinners would tell them of the importance of the Holy Eucharist in
their lives and of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I’m
sure Alexandrina met many people, as we all do, who believe the
Eucharist is just symbolic; but I’m just as sure that when they left
Alexandrina’s room there was no doubt in their minds about Christ’s
presence in the Eucharist and how Jesus is the real friend who never
knows each one of us personally. He knows our names. We can speak
and confide in Him. He participates in our joys and consoles us in
our grief and sadness. We should receive Jesus in the Eucharist
often, abide in Him, let ourselves be guided and transformed by Him.
Francis Reynolds, who was confined to bed for some years, died on 4th
September 2006. Jocie McEvoy sent a brief biography of him from
which these lines are quoted: “Francis had a tape made explaining
how he came to know about Alexandrina. Not being able to write to
everyone he took to phoning. Long distance calls never deterred him.
Once he rang a lady member in Sri Lanka, her husband answered the
phone and sounded angry – and no wonder, it was 4.00am there!”
terms of Alexandrina’s studies, Italy leads the field. Until
recently it was only there that scholars worked on her writings.
Books, articles, leaflets and even pieces of art, such as a recent
and very beautiful icon, have been numerous. At present, the most
active promoters are the teachers Eugénie Signorile and Maria Rita
Scrimieri, and the Salesian, Fr Pier Luigi Cameroni.
Two recent booklets in
the space of about a year two booklets on Bld. Alexandrina were
published in English. Their authors, Leo Madigan (born in New
Zealand, but for many years resident in England, and today in
Fatima) and Kevin Rowles (who lives in England), are both people
well placed to promote their works. Both are in frequent contact
with Balasar, Kevin Rowles having already been used as a source of
information for the Official Website in his Blessed Alexandrina
Maria da Costa, living Miracle of the Eucharist.
Madigan’s book is entitled Bl.
Alexandrina Maria da Costa,
the Mystical Martyr of Fatima.
In the Americas
Pinho was the first to promote Alexandrina in Latin America, as we
have seen; but today she is not only known in Brazil but also in
many other South American countries. In Argentina a well-known
hagiographer, the Franciscan Contardo Miglioranza, published a
biography of her. But it is the Salesians who have made her known in
Chile, Bolivia, Peru, etc. Furthermore, in Central America she is
not ignored, because from Panama to Nicaragua and largely in Mexico,
the Salesian co-operator Yolanda Astrid has spread her name.
In North America, where Francis Johnston’s book had a second
edition, the name today is promoted largely by the website of the
Siervas de los Corazones Traspasados de Jesus y de Maria, of
Miami. But there exist some isolated activists in her cause. There
is even an American bishop who regularly brings a pilgrimage to
Balasar. In Canada, too, she is not unknown.
Balasar had and has a special role in the promotion of Alexandrina.
It all started there. While she was still alive her house was the
object of great pilgrimage and it continues to be so today, as does
her tomb. In Balasar was published, and continues to be published,
Alexandrina’s Bulletin. Also many books on Aleandrina are sold
there, mostly Salesian edition (of the Edições Salesianas and
of the Cavaleiro da Imaculada). Some publications have been
promoted there but above all the most important things in the house
are Alexandrina’s manuscripts and relics.
years, internet pages on Alexandrina have multiplied. Two years ago
however, with the creation of the Official Website (http://alexandrinabalasar.free.fr/),
the trend seems to stabilize. On the site there are sections for
different languages: about two sets of ten books can be found there
in Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, French and English. Lesser texts
still exist in German, in Polish, in Slovene, even in Norwegian, in
Japanese and in Chinese. The list of collaborators is great, with
the Italians and the Portuguese predominating; but Alfonso Rocha has
also translated much into French and Leo Madigan into English.
second indispensable instrument for Alexandrina’s promulgation is
her bulletin, whose publication was recently returned to Balasar.