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Povoa de Varzim, Balasar, Portugal: Sanctuary of Alexandrina da Balasar

The story of Alexandrina da Balasar:

Born in 1904, Alexandrina Maria da Costa (best known as Blessed Alexandrina of Balazar) came from a strong Catholic family and from the early years of her life was both cheerful and a great help to her family from her labors in the field.

When she was 12, Alexandrina became sick with an infection and nearly died, but then recovered.

Then, on March 31, 1918 (Holy Saturday), at the age of 14,  three men violently entered their home and attempted to sexually violate Alexandrina and two others with her.  To preserve her purity, Alexandrina jumped from a window, falling about twelve feet to the ground.  As a reult she became partially paralyzed, but still able to get herself to church most days up until the age of 19.

The doctors diagnosed her condition as incurable and predicted the paralysis she suffered would only get worse.  The paralysis and pain did get worse, until finally she was was completely paralized and bedridden for the rest

Alexandrina continued to ask the Blessed Mother for the grace of a miraculous healing, promising to become a missionary if she were healed.  However it became apparent to her that was not God’s plan for her life:  she realized that she was called to become a “victim soul” and offer her sufferings for others as well as to become a living witness of Christ’s Passion.

The desire to suffer continued to grow in her the more her vocation became clear: she understood that she was called to open the eyes of others to the effects of sin, inviting them to conversion, and to offer a living witness of Christ’s passion, contributing to the redemption of humanity.

And so it was that from 3 October 1938 until 24 March 1942, Alexandrina lived the three-hour “passion” of Jesus every Friday, having received the mystical grace to live in body and soul Christ’s suffering in his final hours. During these three hours, her paralysis was “overcome”, and she would relive the Stations of the Cross, her movements and gestures accompanied by excruciating physical and spiritual pain. She was also diabolically assaulted and tormented with temptations against the faith and with injuries inflicted on her body.

An investigation conducted by the Curia of Braga resulted in a circular letter written by the Archbishop which contained a series of “prohibitions” regarding Alexandrina’s case. It was the result of a negative verdict made by a commission of priests.  This caused her additional stress.

In addition and by way of spiritual comfort, after her spiritual director, a Jesuit priest who had helped her from 1934 to 1941, stopped assisting her, a Salesian priest, Fr Umberto Pasquale, came to her aid in 1944.

Then in March 1942, a new phase began for Alexandrina that would confound everyone.  She received no nourishment of any kind except the Holy Eucharist, at one point weighing as little as approximately 73 pounds.  Again, there were doubters, especially among the physicians who examined her.

Those who visited or came into contact with Alexandrina always found a woman who, although in apparent physical discomfort, was always outwardly joyful and smiling, transmitting to all a profound peace. Few understood what she was deeply suffering and how real was her interior desolation.

Fr Pasquale, who stayed close to Alexandrina throughout these years, ordered Alexandrina’s sister to keep a diary of her words and her mystical experiences.

In 1944, Alexandrina became a member of the “Union of Salesian Cooperators” and offered her suffering for the salvation of souls and for the sanctification of youth. She kept a lively interest in the poor as well as in the spiritual health of those who sought out her counsel.

Alexandrina desired the following words written on her tombstone: “Sinners, if the dust of my body can be of help to save you, come close, walk over it, kick it around until it disappears. But never sin again: do not offend Jesus anymore! Sinners, how much I want to tell you…. Do not risk losing Jesus for all eternity, for he is so good. Enough with sin. Love Jesus, love him!”.

Alexandrina died on 13 October 1955. Her last words: “I am happy, because I am going to Heaven“.  She was beatified on April 25, 2004 by Pope John Paul II and is now Blessed Alexandrina.  Her Feast Day is celebrated October 13.

Here in Póvoa de Varzim you can visit the house where she lived as well as her tomb in the parish church (she was originally buried in the local graveyard and then her body was moved to the church).

The Chapel of the Holy Cross

The town has another claim to fame:  the Chapel of the Holy Cross.  It dates from Corpus Christi Day in 1832, when a cross appeared on the ground and attempts to remove it proved impossible.  The people of the town who were devotees of Alexandrina Maria de Costa took this as a sign that some day the town was destined to receive a holy woman, and Alexandrina proved to be such a woman.


Traveling to Póvoa de Varzim:

The city is located 15 miles north of Porto.  Porto is easily accessible by both air and rail.  The international airport in Porto (Sá Carneiro) is nearby and has service from major international airlines.  There is bus service from Porto to Povoa de Varzim, taking about 45 minutes.


The home of Blessed Alexandrina da Balazar:

Address: Rua Alexandrina Maria da Costa, Balasar, Povoa de Varzim, 4570-017, Portugal

Tel:  +351    252 951 264

The tomb of Blessed Alexandrina da Balazar in the parish church:

Address: R. da Igreja 72, 4570 Balazar, Portugal

Tel:    +351 252 951 601

Click here for the Facebook page of the Shrine of Alexandrina Maria da Costa
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