Help at last!
In June 1944, at the same time as the Commission announced the negative verdict on Alexandrina, the Salesian Fr Umberto Pasquale was in S. Miguel das Aves, Santo Tirso, preaching a triduum. He heard some priests speaking about Alexandrina. What he heard troubled him and he decided to study the facts of the exceptional case.
On 21st of June Doctor Azevedo accompanied Fr Pasquale to Alexandrina where he stayed for three days to study the case. He was soon marvelling at the spiritual heights to which the martyr had risen. He understood her great suffering, he promised her that he would come back; he was to return in July and at other times during the summer.
Alexandrina felt herself understood and confided to this Salesian who was to become her second director[i]. Soon he considered her worthy of being associated the Salesian Family and inscribed her among the Co-operators. The diploma of Salesian Co-operator was drawn up on 15th August 1944. Alexandrina wanted to have it in her room to be able to look at it often.
On 8th September 1944 Fr Umberto decided to accept Alexandrina’s spiritual direction. The following day she heard, in ecstasy, that Jesus approved:
Pure union, holy union, divine union on earth and in Heaven.
Give, my daughter, to him who is well worthy of it (to Fr Umberto) my thanks and that of Mary, my love and that of Mary. S (9-9-44)
In this September the Community of the Salesian Institute of Mogofores, established and directed by Fr Umberto, experienced intermittently for some days, waves of a very pleasing, indefinable perfume. In an ecstasy, on 27th September, Jesus said to Alexandrina:
Say to my beloved priest Umberto that the perfume is divine perfume: it is the perfume of your virtues. I say this because he needs the confirmation for his study. S (27-9-44)
Fr Umberto studied with great passion. He commanded that papers, notebooks with the writings and the dictations of Alexandrina, be collected and from them he made the beginning of the Diary, entitled “Feelings of the Soul”, and commanded that it be continued. The devout martyr was to obey until the end, with a sacrifice always more painful.
The new director contacted Fr Pinho and wrote a very detailed report on Alexandrina’s case, signed with the date 10/10/1944. It was, of course, contrary to opinion put forward by the Commission, on 16th June 1944 (vide C G, Appendix I, 3 p. 784 ss).
On 11th he met Dr. Azevedo in Alexandrina’s house and gave it to him to deliver to the Archbishop. Shortly after, he felt himself oppressed by anguish, by a very real fear, thinking about the consequences of his attitude being contrary to that of the Commission, and therefore also to the Archbishop! He feared the Archbishop’s reaction, and of the Inspector himself. He needed urgently to retire into deep prayer. With the excuse of reciting his rosary, he took leave of Alexandrina and went away, finding refuge in dense wood of high eucalyptuses near Balasar…
The following day, in an ecstasy, Jesus replied to Alexandrina. Let us see how. That morning the parish priest had to leave urgently, therefore he took Alexandrina the consecrated Host, but he did not have time to give it to her: he lit the candles on the small table and, not to miss his train, he placed the Host on it saying:
— Here you have Our Lord to keep you company for a while. Rev. Fr Umberto is coming and he will give Him to you.
As soon as he went away, a force, coming from I do not know where, compelled me to raise myself (she was paralyzed! the miracle that took place in the garden of Mr. Sampaio during the 4th trip to Oporto is being repeated here.)
I knelt before Jesus, I leaned on Him: my face and my heart had never been so close to Him. What a great happiness for me! To enjoy the object of my love at such close proximity! I whispered to Him many things of my own, of all those who are dear to me and of the entire world. I felt myself burning in those divine flames.
Jesus also spoke to me:
— Love, love, love, my daughter! do not have another care but to love me and to give me souls. Where God is, there is everything: there is victory, there is triumph!
I asked the angels to come to praise Jesus and to sing to Him with me. And I sang all the time until I was obliged by Rev. Fr Umberto to go to my bed.
Seized by, and burning in the divine love, I received the Blessed Sacrament. Moments later, Jesus said to me (in ecstasy):
— These are wonders and proofs given by me. My daughter, tell my dear Fr. Umberto that it was me who allowed everything.
For my part nothing more is needed. Now it is only necessary to fight, to fight, to fight with eyes set on Me. The Cause is mine, it is divine.
Poor men who immolate my victims like this! Poor souls that wound my divine Heart in this way! I console Myself in the love of this innocent dove of mine, this beloved victim. S (12-10-44)
Two letters of thanks
Alexandrina did not feel that she was totally alone after entering in the Salesian Family. She felt that she had help here in ascending an ever more exacting Calvary. At the end of this October she wrote a letter to the priests, and another to novices of the College of Mogofores.
Only God is great!
Most Excellent and Reverend Priests:
For all, the most burning love of Jesus and of His heavenly Mother, and all of Heaven’s wealth.
I have in my mind all the intentions that you have commended to me and I beg you all to participate in my poor prayers and sufferings. It is a duty of gratitude on my part: I ask nothing more.
I feel so happy and so rich in the support that I have from Your Reverences!
O my God, I am no more alone! I have someone to help me climb my painful Calvary.
With all my heart and all my soul I say: Jesus and our beloved heavenly Mother will repay you everything and give you all Heaven’s wealth: wealth of virtue and wealth of grace, so that you use them to attract souls for the divine Heart of Jesus. I cannot more. (Alexandrina makes the enormous effort to write in her own hand, instead of dictating).
Ever united on earth and in Heaven!
A blessing and pardon for she who begs prayers, many prayers!
Poor Alexandrina Maria da Costa.
My dear Novices and Salesians of this House.
I would like to write to each one of you, but I cannot: my strength fails me.
As I have a duty to fulfil in thanking you for the holy prayers that you have said for me, I offer it to you all in general. May Jesus and our heavenly Mother repay to you for so much charity. I beg Heaven to shower you with all the blessings and graces of Our Lord.
I only desire that you occupy in the divine Heart of Jesus the place that you occupy in mine, because in this way you can receive everything. Jesus is so rich! And I have you all inside my heart! This is the reason why I want you in the Hearts of Jesus and of our heavenly Mother in the same way. A great thank you to all those who have written to me. You can trust that Jesus will grant you everything, all you wish for your sanctification and the salvation of souls.
Trust! Trust! Jesus will be always with you!
Count always on me on earth and later in Heaven, where I wait for you.
Out of charity, pray for me!
I am poor Alexandrina Maria da Costa. (Cd, vol. 2°)
The Fr Umberto had given a gift to Alexandrina by inscribing her among the Salesian Co-operators; but he also gave a great gift to the Salesian Family enriching it with a very precious pearl.
Fr Umberto is forbidden to direct Alexandrina
In the ecstasy of 12th October 1944 Jesus had clearly confirmed his approval of the direction of Fr Umberto, but had also foreseen the difficulties: “Now it is only necessary to fight, to fight, to fight with eyes fixed on Me”.
The hostilities weren’t long in coming. Soon, on 27th November 1944, the parish priest communicated to Alexandrina that Fr Umberto had been forbidden to be her director!
But Alexandrina had already had a presentiment of these days before:
My soul, my heart and all my body are lacerated, bathed in blood! I looked behind; I could not see the past: all the ways that I had trod had disappeared. My God, what destruction!
Before me, a dreadful mountain. Impossible, I cannot climb it! I cannot move back nor move a step.
Suddenly I found myself falling to my knees. With my hands joined and my eyes raised I invoked the name of Jesus and His holy Mother. I cried out, I cried out from the depths of my soul. My plea did not ascend to heaven: it was hidden among the folds of the mountain, was swamped by my blood and my flesh, was cut into pieces by the thorns to die there with me. The agony of my soul increased: I could not cy out.
I was without any sense of support, and my afflicted heart beat with such a force that it seemed as if I would lose my life.
Oh, it is very sweet, my Jesus, to die! Either to love You, or to die. To suffer, to suffer in order to give You souls! (...) S (14-11-44)
Satan used this to torment her more (on Satan’s action, vide post Ch 14):
The demon’s attacks had returned. On this night he came with all his anger and fury. He tormented me indeed! (...) Dancing, and with outbursts of laughter, he said to me:
— Look: Fr Umberto and the doctor (Dr. Azevedo, her Cyrenean) do not come back: they have been forbidden to come here. And he added ugly names. The demon sometimes also speaks the truth! I already had the presentiment that Fr Umberto would be forbidden to come here several days ago. The fight that followed took up a lot of time. He made such a commotion, stronger than a storm. He scared me. I was tired of such fighting. Whenever I could, I called Jesus and His heavenly Mother and said to Them:
— I do not want, I do not want to sin! Jesus, come to my aid. He said to the demon:
— Go away, accursed one! Go back to hell, leave my victim alone: I have already accepted her reparation.
He fled in terror. Sometimes he looked back, rebellious against Jesus. I was so sad! S (15-11-44)
The heroic Alexandrina manages to pass over the atrocious screaming that is unchained in the deeps, ensuring her pardon from, and confidence in, Jesus when she dictates a letter for Fr Umberto:
Reverend Padre, I write this to tell Your Reverence a little of the many things that I have in my soul. Many days ago I experienced a presentiment that made me suffer very much: it seemed me that Your Reverence would be forbidden by somebody to come here! My God, what storm I heard there from the depths! To avoid causing my sister suffering, I suffered alone. (...)
Poor men who steal the guides that the Heaven gives me!(...)
My wish is that Our Lord does not punish nor take to account these poor creatures who do me so much wrong. May Our Lord forgive them! Poor people, they do not know any better!
If I do not give Jesus what He demands from me, the fault is theirs for taking from me he who taught me to love the One who is not loved, and helped me to climb my very painful Calvary. (...)
If they forbid Your Reverence to write me, and me to write to Your Reverence, I ask by the pains of our heavenly Mother that you be not afflicted: do not suffer for my sake! Let us obey blindly! Jesus will supply everything, He will be merciful.
Do not forget me, for charity’s sake. Nobody can forbid us to pray one for the other, nor to love Our Lord. C” (17-11-44)
Fr Umberto read some diaries of Alexandrina, to his Inspector, Fr Carrà. In one of these it is said that Satan laughs. Because of this Fr Umberto is prevented from accompanying him on his assessment of Alexandrina.
Fr Carrà was worried and said jokingly: “I do not want to amuse Satan! As Inspector I can go to visit a patient and I can take with me whomsoever I want”.
Thus, on 13th January 1945, Alexandrina received the unexpected visit. But she did not receive any comfort from it!
I waited for him, and I received him without enthusiasm: everything was indifferent to me. I looked at him, and sometimes it seemed to me that I couldn’t see him, that he wasn’t a reality. He was a prisoner run away from the prison to visit a corpse that belonged to him. O pain, O bitterness, O terrifying darkness! It is already too late for them to give me joy; it is already too late for my poor soul to receive consolation. (...) S (16-1-45)
After a night passed in a sea of both corporal and spiritual pains, and with assaults from the demon, Alexandrina heard Jesus say:
Liven up, my beloved! Out of your agony I take all the consolation for Myself: your death gives life to souls. I did not allow you to feel the consolation of a visit from my dear Fr Umberto, nor for him to see you consoled: that would have cancelled out all the advantages for souls. It was so that men might see what a soul is when embracing the cross and strong in the love of Jesus, so that they do not interpret these things as being motivated simply by enthusiasm. S (16-1-45)
The assistance of the Fr Umberto became more urgent after February 1946, with the exile of Fr Pinho! Fr Umberto tried everything to give her the greatest possible aid. The defamations against the ‘Case of Balasar’ continued, fed by an article of a Jesuit, Fr Veloso, and published in the Brotéria magazine in January 1947, in which Alexandrina is called a “visionary”.
The outcome was that Fr Umberto was to be relocated to Italy definitively! The departure was to take place in September 1948. But Alexandrina perceived the event long before. In her diary of 23 January 1948 we read:
O my God, what it (my soul) has to bear! What a painful darkness! And alone, without anybody! Never will it see light; nor will it feel the support and aid of a guide, for who could it be, where would he appear from to encounter this darkness. Poor soul! Secure yourself in Jesus: call on Him, cry out for Him in so protracted a journey! Jesus, if you do not come to my aid, the terror will kill me. But, O my Jesus, how sweet it is to suffer and to die for You! All this is nothing, is nothing for He Who so loved us! S (23-1-48)
In July 1948 Fr Umberto alludes vaguely to his being transferred to Italy: Alexandrina dictated in the diary:
They are so many thorns wounding me: they pierce me from head to foot, penetrate my body and my soul (...) I am receiving a second blow in my spiritual life. Will it be heavy, my Jesus, like the first (the removal of Fr Pinho)? May Your divine will be done! I am your victim. The more I feel this blow wounding me and feel the complete abandonment by all those who are dear to me (it is an impression, so that she suffers more), the more I feel that I have to go forward, climbing over everything, searching for Jesus, only Jesus. (...) S (23-7-48)
Only God remains
The final farewell takes place on 24th September 1948.
Yesterday morning I suffered so much, so much, without knowing why. It felt as if my heart and soul shed enough blood to bathe the world.
Hours later, I received my second spiritual blow: I said good-bye to one who, for a second time, Jesus had placed in my way, as the guide and support of my soul. I hadn’t received Holy Communion. He went to find my Jesus, so that I might have greater strength to withstand the wrench I was about to undergo. A few minutes later, I saw him to go away. As he saw me crying very much, he said to me:
— Let it be done according to God’s will!
I answered: - That is right, but the will of God does not wrench out our hearts. He said: - But he gives the strength.
— Yes, I know: but if it was not for the strength of Jesus during these hours, I would despair.
— See that you have Jesus in your heart!
— Yes, I have; and my tears lessen His sadness. May Our Lord repay Your Reverence for what you have done for me: I, for myself, do not know, nor can I. These had been my last words. My tears remained, and I offered them to the tabernacle as acts of love. S (24-9-48)
The only contact that remains between them now is by letter. Let us look at some fragments. From the first letter sent (18-11-48) to Fr Umberto in Italy:
My good Father,
I received your reverence’s letter and I thank you for it with all my heart and soul (...) Everything that belongs to the world passes.
Only what belongs to Jesus is of advantage to us. But I, so poor, do not presume to take advantage either of Jesus or of creatures (she is soul-victim). (...)
How abandoned I am! I am alone, and desire ardently to be alone. I do not want to choose anything more: I am offered up to Heaven. It will do with me what it pleases. (...) I want Jesus, only Jesus. It seems me that I am going mad, searching for Him without ever being able to catch hold of Him. What a madness of love controls my heart! It is wild with love, but it does not love! It wants to love and it does not know how to love! (...)
My good Father, I cannot dwell like this on the great distance that separates me from those that Our Lord had given to my soul. Blessed be He, and blessed be the cross that He gave! I will say with holy Job: “God has given, God has taken away… or, at least, he has permitted it”. (...) I go on doing more or less what your Reverence ordered (dictating the “Diary”, the “Feelings of the soul”) (...)
I ask for pardon and that you might bless me in your charity.
I am poor Alexandrina Maria da Costa.
The correspondence continues with another 7 letters, progressively less frequent. The last is dated 13-1-53.
They saw each other once more, briefly, when Fr Umberto, returning to Italy from Brazil where he had attended a catechists’ conference, made a stopover in Balasar.
It was a Friday, 23rd October 1953. Fr Umberto arrived at 3:15pm. The ecstasy of the Passion, which usually started at 3:00pm, was just starting, which meant he could be present from the beginning (this was confirmed by Fr Umberto’s sister, Alida, who was present). It was one of the ecstasies with singing (a phenomenon that was verified in some of the ecstasies of 1953).
(The following morning) this holy priest celebrated Holy Mass: he seemed more of an angel than a minister of the Lord.
Nothing of this consoled me, but everything served more and more to make me disappear into the abyss of my misery, of my nothingness. S (23-10-53)
To Alexandrina is reserved only suffering!
They will see each other no more on this Earth.
 Fr Umberto will assist her until September 1948, later he will have to return to Italy, and she will send her diaries to him there. But the true, unique spiritual father is always Fr Pinho, whose return she asks for with increasing anguish, but in vain!