The Victim Soul of Fatima - Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa

Alexandrina was born in April 1904.  In 1918, the year after the apparitions of Fatima, Alexandrina and her sister Deolinda and another girl were home when three men knocked at the door, one of whom had previously tried to molest Alexandrina.  They broke into the house. 

 Alexandrina (to preserve her chastity) jumped from an upstairs window.  The men fled but Alexandrina’s spine had been irreparably injured and she had to remain in bed for the rest of her life.  The slightest movement caused her intense pain.  She began to grow closer and closer to the Lord and realised that she was suffering in a special way for the salvation of souls.  She received Holy Communion every day and her thoughts frequently turned to Jesus in the tabernacle. 

Jesus gave Alexandrina the following message to prepare her for the new phase of her mission:- 

“You will not take food again on earth. Your food will be my Flesh; your blood will be my Divine Blood, your life will be my Life. You receive it from me when I unite my Heart to your heart. Do not fear, my daughter. You will not be crucified any more as in the past ... And now a new trial awaits you, which will be the most painful of all.  But in the end I will carry you to Heaven and the Holy Mother will accompany you.”

On Good Friday 1942 Alexandrina started the total fast which continued for thirteen years until her death.  During all this time she took no food or drink whatsoever, but received Holy Communion with great devotion each day.  This phenomenon is not unique, as a few saints have received this special calling from God, but such occurrences are extremely rare in the life of the Church.

People came in increasing numbers to visit Alexandrina, which added greatly to her sufferings, but she always maintained a cheerful disposition and received everyone most courteously.  Her constant silent prayer was : - “O Jesus, place on my lips a deceiving smile in which I can hide all the martyrdom of my soul.  It is enough that only you know of my endurance.”    While many thousands came to see Alexandrina and implore her intercession, she was not without her detractors.  Some disbelieved that she lived on the Holy Eucharist alone, and rumours were circulated that she was fraudulent, which caused her and her family further suffering.

A medical examination of Alexandrina took place, which she accepted in a spirit of obedience and resignation.  One of the doctors performing the examination asked her:- “ Why do you not eat? ” She replied, “I do not eat because I cannot. I feel full. I do not need it. However, I have a longing for food.” The results of this examination were inconclusive, and so it was suggested that Alexandrina go to a hospital in Porto to have the fast medically certified.  She agreed to the proposal on three conditions; that she would be able to receive the Holy Eucharist each day, that Deolinda could accompany her, and that she be there only for observational purposes and not have to undergo any more medical examinations.  These conditions were agreed and Alexandrina went to the hospital in Porto by ambulance, offering up all the sufferings that this journey would inevitably bring.  She said:-

"I embraced my family and friends and only Jesus knew the sorrow it cost me to separate myself from them. I looked only into his Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and implored them to give me courage and strength to bear this new affliction. As they levered my stretcher downstairs I murmured to my weeping family, 'Courage! All for Jesus and for souls!' I was unable to say more. There was such a tightening of my heart that I felt it would be impossible to keep back the tears.”

After a very difficult journey Alexandrina arrived at the hospital on 10 th June 1943 and was put under the strictest supervision.  Two people kept her under intense scrutiny around the clock, all the time she was in hospital.  Alexandrina said that she found Dr Enrico Gomes de Araujo, the doctor in charge of conducting the observation, to be strict “even to the point of harshness”.   Dr Araujo visited Alexandrina several times each day and interrogated her, and she underwent many other trials and indignities during her stay in hospital.  Alexandrina's own physician, Dr Azevedo, visited her on occasions, and his support and company afforded her some relief.  After thirty days of being constantly monitored, another physician, disbelieving the genuineness of Alexandrina's fast, insisted that she remain for a further ten days.  On 19 th July 1943, the day before she left hospital, all the children of the hospital gathered around Alexandrina's bed and she prayed with them.  Later, over 1,500 people arrived to catch a glimpse of the ‘Victim of Balasar' and the police had to be brought in to control the crowd.  Dr Araujo told Alexandrina that the observation was concluded and said “ In October, I will come to visit you at Balasar, not as a doctor-spy, but as a friend who respects you.”   Dr Araujo's official report confirmed Alexandrina's fast as scientifically inexplicable. It stated:-

“It is absolutely certain that during forty days of being bedridden in hospital, the sick woman did not eat or drink . . . and we believe such phenomenon could have happened during the past months, perhaps the past 13 months . . . leaving us perplexed.”

A further report by Drs Lima and Azevedo confirmed the above :-

“We the undersigned, Dr C. A. di Lima, Professor of the Faculty of Medicine of Oporto and Dr E. A. D. de Azevedo, doctor graduate of the same Faculty, testify that, having examined Alexandrina Maria da Costa, aged 39, born and resident at Balasar, of the district of Póvoa de Varzim ... have confirmed her paralysis ... And we also testify that the bedridden woman, from 10 June to 20 July 1943 remained in the sector for infantile paralysis at the Hospital of Foce del Duro, under the direction of Dr Araujo and under day and night surveillance by impartial persons desirous of discovering the truth of her fast. Her abstinence from solids and liquids was absolute during all that time. We testify also that she retained her weight, and her temperature, breathing, blood pressure, pulse and blood were normal while her mental faculties were constant and lucid and during these forty days, she did not have any natural bodily functions”

While this phenomenon was inexplicable to everyone else, Alexandrina knew the cause of it, for Jesus had already told her:- “You are living by the Eucharist alone because I want to prove to the world the power of the Eucharist and the power of my life in souls.”

-“Alexandrina The Agony and the Glory” by Francis Johnston, Tan Books, 1979 -Availible from Tan Books here.