Chapter 5



Chapter 5


Alexandrina’s movements during the ecstasies of the Passion were not humanly possible in one who had been paralysed for years! 

Fr Pinho spoke to the Archbishop of Braga (the diocese to which Balasar belongs) who ruled that the ‘Case’ be examined by a competent doctor. This greatly disturbed Alexandrina: 

When my spiritual Director spoke to me of being examined by doctors, it was a great torment for me, a great barrier was raised in my soul. I wanted to suffer hidden! I wanted that Jesus alone knew of my suffering.  

But obedience had commanded. I kept silent and accepted everything for Jesus.  

The doctors were to make up what was lacking in the completion of my Calvary. And on my way I found some who were authentic executioners. (A, p. 50)     

Third trip to Oporto   

They needed x-rays, hence a trip to Oporto, the third! (She had been already twice to hospitals in Oporto, at the beginning of the illness):

On 6th December 1938, at about 11 hours, I was taken from my bed and put on a stretcher. During that morning, I was very visited by many friendly people and I saw tears in the eyes of almost all of them, as well as in the members of my family. I tried to cheer them all up, pretending that I was suffering nothing at all.   My trip was so painful that it took three hours and half to get to Oporto. We had to stop so many times. 

She took the x-ray in Oporto, in the office of Dr. Robert de Carvalho, who treated her with great care and said to her: “Oh my poor girl, how you suffer!” 

Later she was taken to the College of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, where she was examined by Dr. Pessegueiro, an examination that proved to be her biggest suffering. She stayed there until the 11th:  

During the journey home I again had a painful trip. When I entered my small room, I saw that I was once more surrounded by friends. (A, pp. 50-51)   

That same December, on the 26th, she suffered much from the visit to her house of the famous neurologist celebrity, Dr. Elísio de Moura. 

He treated me cruelly, trying, with violence, to seat me in a chair. As he didn’t manage to succeed, he threw me onto the bed, making various experiments that   made me suffer horribly. He covered my mouth, threw me against the wall, and generally banged me about. (…)  

Without wanting to, I cried, but I offered all my tears to Jesus with my sufferings, which had been many. What I am telling is really nothing of what I went through.   I forgave to him everything, because he came on a mission of medical investigation. (A, p. 51)  

An echo of this visit can be found in the letter to her director, dictated the following day: 

It costs me very much to speak. It seems to me that my body has been run over by a car which has crushed me. (...) 

But several lines later she returns to her generosity in suffering, to her love for Jesus: 

I accept everything, everything for Your divine love and for You know what (we do not know what she is referring to). I wanted to suffer it all, even if You did not know that it was me suffering (she wants to offer her suffering to save souls, even being anonymous, without any reward for her generous act). You are worth everything. C (27-12-38)   

The trip to Oporto and the visit of the great neurologist excited critical comment from the people of Balasar: 

They said that I went (to Oporto) to take a “picture of a saint”, that is, to evaluate my sanctity by means of a machine. (…) 

They said that I cut the air, making me out to be a witch, that I was a hypocrite (…) 

When I heard what they were saying about me, I pretended not to suffer, but I was suffering, bitterly, and I answered:  

“They are talking about me? It is because they have to say something. I don’t have to; I’ll leave the talking to them.  

May Our Lord forgive them; I also forgive them. They talk, they talk and they will always talk.   There is nobody to silence them: some are against me, some are for me.” 

And so the time passes. (A, pp. 52-53)

Dr. Azevedo comes on the scene

Dr. August Manuel Dias de Azevedo, physician of Ribeirão and a luminary of medical science, was also a competent theologian, as he had attended the Seminary of Braga. He was to become Alexandrina’s Simon of Cyrene. Inspired and burning with the divine fire, he was to follow her until the very summit of her Calvary, making up in some way for the lack of a director because Padre Pinho was about to leave her and go into exile. (vide Ch 7). 

On 29th January 1941 Dr. Azevedo, received permission from Padre Pinho to visit Alexandrina; he was received together with another priest who was known to Alexandrina. It was their first meeting. 

Dr. Azevedo was astonished. He had supposed that the Case was very serious and that it would necessary to study it not simply from a medical standpoint, but rather from a theological and spiritual vantage point.  On 15th February 1941 he wrote a letter to Padre Pinho in which he gives a very vibrant picture of Alexandrina.

Let’s look at some extracts: 

Everything about her – her facial expressions, the composure of her movements, and the profundity of the theological and mystical concepts she expresses – everything about her is simply admirable. 

Nothing, absolutely nothing of what we see, either from the clinical or from the theological view point, can allow us to classify the phenomena we observe as having its origins in nature or in the devil.  

Besides, her humble and unpretentious life, her lack of culture, her equilibrium of intelligence and manner, her complete resignation and deep humility, her frequently repeated flashes of genius, and all this wrapped in a charming simplicity, gives manifest proof that we have before us a soul overflowing with the supernatural, next to whom we feel ourselves small, very, very small indeed.

Blessed be Our Lord who gives us such angels to make reparation for our sins! (NoC, Ch 23, p. 192-193, port.) 

Fourth trip to Oporto   

Dr. Azevedo finds an opportunity to consult with Dr. Abel Pacheco, a specialist in Oporto who had visited her at the beginning of her illness. The consultation took place on 1st May 1941 with a medical assistant, Dr. John Alves Ferreira, but the doctors did not agree.  So Dr. Azevedo suggested a visit to Oporto to consult Dr. Gomes de Araújo. He invited Alexandrina to ask for inspiration in prayer, because he did not want to oppose the will of the Lord. 

I prayed over the course of a month. But, the more I asked for light, the more I was in darkness. Thus the conflict in my soul became progressively more intense and I did not know what to do, until Our Lord told me that it was His divine will that I went to Oporto.  My physical state was very grave, people were afraid to take me out of bed for so a long trip (…)  However, enlivened by the words of Our Lord, I trusted in Him and, under His divine action, I prepared myself to leave at dawn on 1st July 1941. (A, p. 54)

On the eve of this departure she dictated a letter to Padre Pinho, of which we extract a few lines, just enough to shed light on her high spiritual state, her love of Jesus, and of souls. 

I am in a dark, dry night, during which not so much as a tiny dewdrop falls. (...)

Overwhelmed and oppressed beneath this pain and bitterness, I remember: it is for Jesus, it is for souls. 

And immediately all my being is transformed into one single thought: God in everything and above all. I could pass all the time of my life thinking only of God.

All things pass, only God remains. The thought of God encompasses all Heaven and earth. 

I plunge into God. I can love Him and think of Him for all eternity. 

This thought raises me from my languishment: simply by thinking like this, I alleviate my pain; simply by plunging into God I can smile at the painful and sad picture that faces me. 

To cheer up my family I pretend that I am looking forward with joy to my trip to Oporto; this is so that they will not understand the pain in my heart. 

It is for Jesus that I go, it is for souls that I suffer. 

I only hope for the courage and the love from Jesus to resist everything. C (14-7-41)  

In the Autobiography we find the description of this trip. Here are some extracts: 

At four o’clock in the morning, I had already made my prayer and, to give the impression that I was glad to be going, I began to call my sister, telling her that “we were going to the city” (for people of an country parish, ‘to go to the city’ was a matter of great celebration).  Only in this way did I hide my pain and cheer my family.  

When I said this, I heard the automobile that shortly arrived at our house. Dr. Dias de Azevedo entered my room, followed by a friend (António Sampaio, who took her in his car). (…) 

We started at 4:30am. It was still night, because we did not want to alarm the people. In fact we left the parish without seeing anybody.


Into what a silence did my soul descend!

I dived into an abyss of sadness, but without being separating for a moment from the close union with my Jesus.  I kept asking Him for all the courage I needed for the examination ahead; and I offered the sacrifice for His divine love, and for souls. I called on our heavenly Mother and on all my favourite saints. 

It gave importance to nothing, but everything that came my way caused me deep sadness. 

Sometimes, they interrupted my silence to ask if all was well. I assured them it was even though I had not left the abyss into which I had dived.  

It was already daylight when we stopped at Trofa, at the house of the man who was to accompany us. There I rested and received my Jesus, waiting there for an hour before going on to Oporto.     

They took her to the garden where she managed to gather some flowers, thinking:  

“When Our Lord created these little flowers, He already knew that today I would come here to gather them.” 

Later, I was photographed in two separate places. I moved myself from the first of these places to the other on my feet, a thing I haven’t been able to do since I became bed-ridden; I couldn’t even turn over in the bed (except during the ecstasies of the Passion, of course)! Only a divine miracle could effect that, because without a miracle I couldn’t even move myself. Indeed, I couldn’t bear to be touched (…) 

But six kilometres from Oporto, Our Lord removed His divine action. (...) 

The trip in the car to the doctor's office was painful. I felt a great martyrdom of body, and a great agony of soul; I thought I would die. (...) 

The examination was very painful and delayed.  When I was being undressed, they told me not to be distressed. And I, remembering what they had done to Our Lord, said:   “Also they had undressed Jesus”, not thinking about anything else. 

Dr. Gomes de Araújo, although seeming to me a little brusque, was cautious and delicate.

On the return trip, they stopped in Ribeirão, at Dr. Dias de Azevedo’s home, so that they would be able to return without being seen. 

It was the same in this house as in the other, I was treated by all with much affection, but nothing comforted me. I smiled at everything, hiding my pain as much as I could. (...) 

We arrived home at midnight unseen so nobody had even known that I had been away. (A, pp. 54-56)   

The following day, Fr Pinho visited her and celebrated Holy Mass in her room. However, on the 17th, Alexandrina felt the necessity of dictating a letter to him, to describe the memorable day - the 15th. It is interesting to read some excerpts: 

Shortly after the midnight I prepared myself for departure. I said all the morning prayers, asked for the aid of Heaven, offered the sacrifice to Jesus and to our heavenly Mother begging for their love, indeed to die of love. 

Later I offered prayers for those people who are most dear to me, first of all my spiritual father. In exchange for my sacrifice I asked Jesus for peace in the world, the Consecration of the world to our heavenly Mother. I prayed that He exempt Portugal from the war. I prayed for sinners, for priests, etc. 

While I waited for the hour of departure, my heart bled with pain and I was anxious to give everything to Jesus.

Half past 4 in the morning was the time of my departure (...) 

For me the sky did not have stars, the breaking of the day did not appear, the sun did not shine; to my eyes all was sad and painful. (...) 

I stopped on the way to rest in a friend’s house, where I was surrounded with affection and love. It was there that I received my Jesus, the life of my life, my strength in suffering. 

He deigned to say to me some words that brought courage to my heart, courage and greater desire to suffer for Him: 

— My daughter, my daughter, your sacrifice is a bond of love which draws my Heart more and more towards yours; and the same bonds of love seize your spiritual father and all those around you and those who take care of you. 

I love you, I love you, I love you! (...)

I suffered horrible pains with a smile, and often with the name of Jesus on my lips (...)

And then Wednesday the 16th dawned. My spiritual father arrived and, shortly afterwards, my heart stirred back into life. I was out of bed and attended Holy Mass and received my Jesus. (...)

The pains in the body were increasing: I can scarcely describe my suffering. In hours of the greatest anguish Jesus spoke to me:


— My daughter, here is your suffering for priests. Suffer for them. The pain makes reparation for sin. The ardour that burns you is the fire of the passions. I used the medical examination to make you suffer for them. 

Shortly afterwards, Jesus came back to say to me: 

- My daughter, tell your spiritual father that he should rejoice in your pain, that he should rejoice in seeing reparation made, that he should rejoice at seeing you saving souls for me. (...)

Today Jesus continues making a martyr of me. My martyrdom is great when I receive the Eucharistic Jesus. The droughts and the darkness of the soul do not allow me to enjoy the sweetness and tenderness of His love. It was a morning of torment in the soul and the body. The doubts and the fears of the crucifixion had been dreadful (it is Thursday, already she feels terror for the approaching Friday). 

The afternoon suffering was softer: I felt the union of our souls and contemplated the Calvary with more love. (…) 

Pardon, my father, for poor Alexandrina. C (17-7-41)

This examination in Oporto in 15th July 41 brought, it is true, enormous sufferings to Alexandrina. But it also brought Dr. Azevedo his first victory because a great neurologist agreed with his diagnosis “high medullar compression, complicated by other compressive focuses at a lower level”.  

In 1967 Dr. Azevedo, in the Diocesan Process for beatification, declares:

The main illness of Alexandrina must have been myelitis, as indeed diverse doctors had confirmed, among them Dr. Gomes de Araújo and Prof. Dr. Carlos Lima. All were convinced that the main cause of the myelitis was the jump from the window, of which we spoke previously. (Summ, p. 45)


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