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:
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.
obedience had commanded. I kept silent and accepted everything for Jesus.
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):
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!”
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:
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.
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. (…)
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
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. (…)
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:
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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. (...)
and oppressed beneath this pain and bitterness, I remember: it is for Jesus, it
is for souls.
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
pass, only God remains. The thought of God encompasses all Heaven and earth.
into God. I can love Him and think of Him for all eternity.
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). (…)
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.
importance to nothing, but everything that came my way caused me deep sadness.
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.
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.
her to the garden where she managed to gather some flowers, thinking:
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 (…)
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. (...)
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
home at midnight unseen so nobody had even known that I had been away. (A, pp.
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:
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.
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.
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
to say to me some words that brought courage to my heart, courage and greater
desire to suffer for Him:
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! (...)
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:
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.
afterwards, Jesus came back to say to me:
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).
afternoon suffering was softer: I felt the union of our souls and contemplated
the Calvary with more love. (…)
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:
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)