FAST – TOTAL AND FOREVER!
In 1942 Alexandrina started a
total fast, of both solids and liquids, which was to last until her death! But
brief periods of fast had already been experienced during the preceding years.
At the end of April 1937 she
vomited day and night. (vide Ch 3)
After the first ecstasy of the
Passion, in October 1938, she went 5 consecutive days without food and
experienced continuous vomiting. (vide Ch 4)
At the end of November 1939 she
wrote to Fr Pinho:
Good bye, my
dear father, I cannot feed myself. I have many pains! C (29-11-39)
The following is taken from Dr.
Azevedo’s deposition in the Diocesan Process:
March 1942 until the end of June of the same year, she swallowed water with a
little salt, which was boiled in a little trickle of oil. (...) In June she said
me: “Let me rest and do not compel me to take anything”. I answered her: “If
this makes you better, let your will be done” (...)
One thing I
found strange: Although she lived without food from 1942 to 1955, she
nevertheless menstruated every month, until she was 47 years of age. (Summ, pp.
To get an idea of the suffering
brought on by the fast, let us quote from two letters to her director:
explain the longing that I have for food: I want to take all the food there is
into my mouth; I want to be fed with all the foods whose odours reach me, and I
get nothing. But, Jesus be praised, my intelligence is very alert.
I offer all
my martyrdom for love of Jesus, to make reparation for so many sins, to save
souls for Him and to give light to those who have removed from this earth my
light and comfort. (vide Ch 7; C (22-8-42) (...)
My father, I
continue without eating. I am not hungry, but I feel a need, a ravenous desire
to take to my mouth everything I see. If you knew how much this new suffering
costs me! Let it be for Jesus and for souls! C (7-11-42)
An investigation is made!
The phenomenon provoked
controversy. And there was no shortage of people who were mystified by it. Dr.
Azevedo spoke to the Archbishop of Braga, who advised that an investigation be
made in a hospital. Dr. Azevedo prepared a consultation with Dr. Carlos Lima, a
university professor, and Dr. Gomes de Araújo, director of the Hospital
Refúgio de Paralisia Infantil in Foz do Douro, close to Oporto:
the desire and will of His Excellency, the Archbishop, I was once again
subjected to a new inspection, which was carried out on 27th May
1943. (A, p. 59)
The doctors were favourably
impressed, but they demanded an investigation in a nursing home; a clinic of Dr.
Gomes de Araújo’s was chosen.
On 4th June, the assistant
doctor came here, together with my current confessor (Fr Alberto Gomes), to tell
me of the doctors’ decision and to convince me, and my family, of the
advisability of going to the Refúgio da Paralisia Infantil, to a private room,
to be one month there, so that the doctors could ascertain, under close
observation, what is happening to me. I answered ‘no’ immediately, but soon I
changed my mind; I remembered the obedience I owed the Archbishop, and said
‘yes’. I did not want to leave my Director and the assistant doctor, and all
those who have taken an interest in me, in an awkward position. However, I made
1) to be
allowed to receive Jesus each day;
2) that my
sister be with me always;
3) not to be
subjected to any more examinations, because I was going in for observation and
not for examination.
days I was here, I asked Jesus and my heavenly Mother to give me strength and
courage so that my family, who were desolate, could take courage from me.
Forty days under rigorous
On 10th June 1943
Alexandrina started her internment that was to last not 30 but 40 days, as we
will see: the famous Biblical “40” days!
The 10th June
arrived, in which all was prepared for my departure for Foz.
The bitterness that took
possession of me was profound, but, at the same time, I felt such courage that I
was able to hide what was transpiring in my soul. I trusted Jesus in such a way,
and was so convinced of His divine aid, that I thought that, if necessary, Jesus
would send His own angels to help me in the exile in which I would find myself.
When doctor (Azevedo) arrived at
my bedside, he was embarrassed about telling me that it was time to leave, but I
said to him:
Who does not go does not come.”
farewells began. Only Our Lord knows how much this separation cost, all my
friends had come to hug me and to kiss me and I was full of pain. All I could do
was look at the Sacred Heart of Jesus and our dear heavenly Mother, asking Them
for courage and strength.
down the stairs in the stretcher, I said, to cheer up them:
This is for Jesus and for souls”
I could not
say anything more, such was the pressure that I felt in my heart and it would be
impossible to contain the tears. I did not want to cry, not that I minded for
myself, but because I did not wish to be the cause of greater pains for those I
When I was
placed in the stretcher, and surrounded by more than a hundred people, I saw
tears in the eyes of almost all of them, heard the cries of my mother and others
of my family. My pain was indescribable. I yearned to leave, and that quickly.
My heart beat with such force that it seemed to be battering my ribs. On this
occasion I said to Jesus:
Jesus, all the pulsations of my heart, for Your love and for the salvation of
The trip was
difficult, sometimes my heart felt huge and at other times it seemed that it
would succumb to the pressures on it.
I looked at
my sister and I saw that she was desolate. The doctor told me that, because he
always saw me with a smile in the lips, he believed that sick people like me
didn’t suffer too much during journeys.
Jesus knew the bitterness that was in my heart and the tortures of my poor body.
With the constant movement of the stretcher-car, I felt great afflictions in my
heart, but I always repeated: “Everything for Your love, my Jesus, and I pray
that the dark night I feel in my soul serves to give light to other souls”
When we arrived at the last
houses of Balasar, I saw that Mr. Sampaio (the friend who had taken her to
Oporto during her 4th trip; vide Ch 5) raised the curtains around the
stretcher-car and I noticed that the tears had welled up in the eyes of the
doctor, who came to my side and exclaimed: “Poor children!”
these words, I asked him what he meant. I was told that some children, on the
roadside, threw flowers at our car. I felt then full of compassion towards those
little children. It was with difficulty that I managed to contain the tears
which were trying to course down my face.
arrived at Matosinhos, the doctor raised the curtain of the window of the
stretcher-car so that I saw the sea.
enormous silence took possession of my heart and, seeing the continuous movement
of the waves and their coming up the beach, I asked Jesus that my love might
also be like this, without interruption and lasting.
We arrived close to the
Refúgio, and Dr. Gomes de Araújo did not want the stretcher-car to go right up
to the door so he told the ambulance men and they turned the stretcher-car and
carried me onto the street, covering my face so that nobody saw me.
heart became heavy, because I had already guessed how things would be for me
during those 30 long days that I would spend in that house. While they carried
me with my face hidden, it seemed to me that I was in a coffin. My gloom
increased, and I asked myself: “What crime did I commit?”
of the Shelter’s stairs was a martyrdom, because I was carried upside-down. Once
we were in the room they uncovered my face, and I saw myself surrounded by Dr.
Araújo and some ladies, who were to be my guards, while I was there. (…)
On the following day, a
Friday, the true Calvary in that house began for me. At the time of the ecstasy,
which happened every Friday, my sister came close to me; there was also the
medical assistant (Azevedo, who recorded the ecstasy to deliver a report of it
to the doctors), Mr. Sampaio and a nurse. Nothing escaped the observers, no
small detail, all of which would later be discussed in public and commented on.
(...) Deolinda, who was told to leave the room, was troubled and asked: “But
surely I will be permitted to see my sister from the door? If she can see me
perhaps she will be reassured.” and, leaning over my bed, she cried
inconsolably. I said to her: “Do not afflict yourself, Our Lord will be with
The following night, she had a
serious crisis of vomiting, aggravated by not having anybody to assist her. She
lay prostrate. The doctor whispered to the nurse:
— She is
ready! She is ready!
opened my eyes and said him: “O Doctor, I have these things at home too.”
quickly and imperiously:
lady, do not think that you come here to fast!
what he was trying to do, and that wounded me deeply.
When (Dr. Araújo) knew what
had happened on that Friday, he demanded the report of the ecstasy and said
— It seems
impossible that Dr. Azevedo, being an intelligent young man, accepts such
things. We must put a stop to this. Meanwhile, all clocks must disappear so that
she ignores the time…
As if Our
Lord needed them!
state, he wanted to give me medication, but I did not give my assent, nor would
I. How many times the nurses came close to me, convinced that I had died!
been five days of continuous agony, more of the soul than of the body, and
during these crises they had forbidden my sister to come near me, I, who at
home, needed two people to lift me!
that this crisis was due to lack of food. (…)
were deceived! My nourishment came me from the blessed Host which I received at
Communion each morning.
Dr. Azevedo visited her again
and reaffirmed his prohibition against the introduction of foods or remedies,
unless Alexandrina asked for them. And to the duty nurse he added:
guarantee you one thing: you may die, I may die, but here in the Shelter she
does not die!
He sat close
to me and gave me a little of the comfort that I needed. Because Our Lord
allowed this it turned out well; five days later the vomiting had stopped
completely and the natural colour came back to my face together with the lustre
of the eyes.
At the next
visit of the medical assistant, who saw me frequently, the duty nurse said:
Doctor! Look at this face!
delicate, but with firmness, answered:
— It is
because of the steaks she has been eating, and the injections she has received.
wanted once again to show His power in this humble creature.
From some conversations,
Alexandrina overhears talk of hysteria. In consequence she said to Dr. Azevedo:
“If I’m to
be treated as an hysteric, there is no need for me to be here!”
answered that I had to have courage and confidence. So I did everything I had
to, to fulfil the most holy Will of God.
visited her two or three times a day, at different hours. He spoke constantly,
trying to convince her that what was happening to her was not what God wanted:
yourself, young girl - he said - that God does not want you to suffer. If
He wants to
save others and if it is true that He has power to do so, He can save them
Himself! If it is true that God rewards those who suffer, has He already
rewarded you, for what you have suffered?
But, my God,
I know that You are infinite, infinite in the power, infinite in Your rewards.
If it was like he says, what am I suffering for?
accompanied his words with a malicious look, like a demon – or so it seemed to
answered him: “They are so great, so great the things of Our Lord, and we are so
tiny, so insignificant, at least I am!”
He did not
say anything at first; but later, infuriated, he answered: “You are right about
yourself; but I am a person of much greater intelligence” - and he went out.
How far the
doctor was from understanding this law of love for souls! If he knew the value
of a soul, he would see that nothing we do to save one can be excessive.
It was a constant deluge of
humiliations and sacrifices. Oh, if I knew how to suffer well, how much I would
have to offer Jesus! New things that humiliated, and called for sacrifice, would
always appear. I had close to my bed a picture of little Jacinta (that Fr. Pinho
had given to her; it is now conserved in the wall close the Alexandrina’s bed).
I looked at it with love and, then, without fearing that the duty nurses would
tell the doctor, I said:
Jacinta, you, though so young, know what this costs! Help me, from Heaven where
Only the aid
of Heaven, only the prayers of good souls could be my strength, to climb so
painful a Calvary and to support the weight of so heavy a cross! (...)
praise to Jesus and to our heavenly Mother, pretending to enjoy the greatest of
joys. I sang with the greatest enthusiasm. But inside me, and with what I could
see through my own eyes, it seemed that there was neither sun nor day.
One day Dr. Araújo made a long
speech to convince her that she was deluded. He told her about some research he
did when he was a student, research which took intense study; but in the end his
teacher had said to him: “Don’t you see that you are mistaken, that, for such
and such a reason, it cannot be anything like that?” I said: My God, how many
lost hours! So many hours of illusions! Everything fell flat!
I, who saw
from the beginning what he was trying to convey, smiled and said:
“It does not
fall flat, Doctor. I have a very wise and holy Director and he studied my case
for some years. If the work belongs to God, nothing can possibly fall flat”.
He, a little
embarrassed, said: “Nothing?! …” — pretending with his words that that was not
what he meant.
I had said
what I had to say, and shortly after he left me.
During that long and stormy
exile, her mother visited her twice: on the 16th and 30th
day, the days on which she should have returned home..
I was so
very homesick for her! She was such a short time with me and then always under
the curious looks of the duty nurses!
and I pretended not to have a heart: I smiled and joked with her.
her, and with my deceptive smile I hid the bitterness that was in my soul, and I
removed the tears that persisted in sliding along my face.
Dr. Araújo, exasperated with his
colleague Dr. Álvaro for not agreeing with his own assessment of Alexandrina’s
case, defied him to get a person he trusted to take over the investigation for
some days more. A sister of Dr. Alvaro was chosen.
looked for ways of convincing us that it would be convenient to spend a further
10 days at the Clinic; he was so convinced of the truth. (…) I answered him:
“Whoever is 30 might as well be 40!”
Thus it was
returned to the former severity, or even worse. I was forbidden to talk about
Jesus in any way whatsoever, because they thought that in this way they could
remove the reality within. (…)
There was no
lack of cunning in trying to catch me out taking their food. When they showed me
their titbits without saying anything, I was content to smile at them… when they
offered food I thanked them saying: “Thank you very much! ”, but always with a
smile as I did not wish to show them that I was aware of their ill intent.
Finally the longed-for moment
when she was to leave that prison arrived! The two sisters had the satisfaction
of hearing the great physician say:
In October I
will visit you in Balasar, not as doctor or spy, but as friend who esteems you.
(A, p. 71)
And he kept his promise! A
great satisfaction. But at what a cost!
On that afternoon of 20th
July, there had been the farewells from the nuns and the duty nurses. All the
duty nurses had offered me their gifts (flowers, perfumes).
the perfume, nor the flowers, nor the multitude of the people who surrounded our
car as we set off gave me cause for the slightest vanity.
stopped to rest and I saw many people approach me with many exclamations, I said
to the medical assistant, who came to my side: “Let’s go, let’s go, Doctor” (…)
trip, I lived more inside myself than outside: the sea, everything that I saw,
invited me to silence, to the inner life with God. I had no reason for vanity:
everything conspired to humble me and to make me so small that I all but
How would it
be with me if I was to be judged by the world! They had ascribed malice where
there was none. Forgive them, Jesus! They do not know Your things! (...)
arrived at my small room, it seemed a lie to enter it! There were tears, but
this time very different tears: they were tears of joy! After being put into
my bed it was a long time before I could allow anyone to touch me; I let out
great moans, most painful ones. It was the effect of the trip.
Now I say:
For whom did I make this sacrifice? Would I do this just for vanity? O world, O
poor world! Vanity, but for what!? What are we without God? Who would be capable
of suffering like this for the importance and vanity of the world? (...)
was right when I was leaving to go there; when he was placing a wet cloth on my
forehead, he said to me:
- You have
some white hairs here, but when you return you will have many more!
that is what happened: he had already foreseen everything that was waiting for
But it is so
good to do everything for Jesus’s love! (A, pp. 61-72)
As a comment and conclusion to
this great trial, Jesus said:
is of Jesus falls: in the middle of all storms it is secure, it shines, it is
triumphant. Jesus reigns with his love-sick little girl.
In this, too, Alexandrina shows
O my Jesus,
many thanks! Triumph and reign for your glory, so that souls be saved. I always
want to be tiny in the eyes of the world, but huge in love, great
in the power to save souls for You; from this power that is yours, from this
love that belongs only to You, all stems. S (7-8-43)
Alexandrina’s fast is a
martyrdom of salvation
On many occasions Alexandrina
heard Jesus affirm this:
If you could
see the souls that have been saved by you! Especially lately, during these 3
years of your fast! What a great way to rescue sinners! I show my power here, my
anxieties for them and my love towards them.
Martyrdom and fast will be the greatest way, the last way of salvation.
Martyrdom will climb the peak and love will reach the utmost summit. The love of
Jesus, suffering for souls: reparation without equal! S (30-3-45)
Alexandrina interprets her
physical hunger as a “sign” of a spiritual reality: she also, like Jesus with
Whom she identifies herself (and this identity will be consummated, as we will
see), feels a hunger which encompasses the world.
On 2 April 54 she dictated:
March, date of the 12th anniversary of the day on which I stopped
eating, I will never be able to tell what I felt in myself: the hunger was so
great, so great; it was infinite. But it was not a hunger for food.
It was as if
my chest and my heart had opened, and the world came to me like the waves of the
sea. However many more there were, however many more waves came, the more I went
to meet them and the greater was my desire to possess them.
the sea and all this sea was mine to fit inside in my chest and heart. I
suffered bitterly, infinitely, because all this sea did not to enter me. I
suffered alone, in silence. This opening up of my heart had been for Jesus and
our heavenly Mother. S (2-4-54)