SALESIAN COOPERATOR (APRIL 25, 2004)
A MYSTIC WHO OFFERED HER SUFFERING, UNITED WITH THE SALESIANS, FOR THE SALVATION OF THE YOUNG
Alessandrina Maria da Costa was born on March 30, 1904 in Balasar in Portugal. She was brought up in the faith by her mother, along with her sister Deolinda. Alessandrina stayed with the family until she turned seven, then was sent to Póvoa do Varzim to board with a carpenter’s family so she could attend primary school. After returning to Balasar she worked as a farmer. She was known to be lively, affectionate and playful, much sought out by her friends.
When she was 14 years old she jumped from a window into the garden at home to safeguard her virtue when it was under threat from some evil-intentioned young men. Five years later, the damage caused by that fall left her totally paralyzed, and she was bedridden for more than 30 years. She was looked after by her older sister.
She sought the grace of a recovery, but the Mother of God instead gave her the grace to accept her suffering, as well as a desire to suffer for the salvation of souls. The Salesian charism included that of being a victim, something she developed along with Frs. Beltrami, Czartoryski, Variara and Sr. Eusebia. It also inspired Alessandrina. She offered herself to Christ as a victim for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world. “I have no purpose other than that of giving glory to God and saving souls.”
For four years (1938-1942), overcoming her constant paralysis, she was able to get up from her bed, and on 182 occasions relived Christ’s passion every Friday, for three sorrowful hours. She asked and obtained from Pius XII that the world be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (October 31, 1942). From March 27, 1942 until her death, 13 years and seven months later, she took no food or drink other than her daily communion. This unexplainable fact was scientifically verified by different doctors, sometimes in a way which was humiliating for Alessadrina.
She was a great mystic. In constant union with Jesus in the world’s tabernacles, she was the subject of ecstasies and revelations. The Lord provided that her second spiritual director be a Salesian, Fr. Umberto Pasquale, who kept her diary. She then asked to be a Cooperator. She said, “I feel I am in great union with the Salesians and with the Cooperators all over the world. And frequently I witness to my belonging to them and offer my suffering, united with them all, for the salvation of the young! I love the Congregation. I love it very much and will never forget it on heaven or on earth.”
Thousands came to her bedside to get comfort from her words. On October 13, 1955 she died in Balasar, where she is now buried facing the tabernacle. Crowds of pilgrims regularly visit the place. St. John Paul II beatified her on April 25, 2004.