This Saint didn’t eat anything but the Eucharist for 13 years
Alexandrina Maria da Costa was born on 30 March 1904 in Balasar, Portugal. She received a solid Christian education from her mother and her sister, Deolinda, and her lively, well-mannered nature made her likable to everyone.
Her unusual physical strength and stamina enabled her to do long hours of heavy farm work in the fields, thus helping the family income.
When she was 12, Alexandrina became sick with an infection and nearly died; the consequences of this infection would remain with her as she grew up and would become the “first sign” of what God was asking of her: to suffer as a “victim soul.”
The consequences of sin
When Alexandrina was 14, something happened that left a permanent imprint on her, both physically and spiritually: it gave her a face-to-face look at the horror and consequences of sin.
On Holy Saturday of 1918, while Alexandrina, Deolinda, and a young apprentice were busily sewing, three men violently entered their home and attempted to violate them sexually. To preserve her purity, Alexandrina jumped from a window, falling four meters to the ground.
Her injuries were many, and the doctors diagnosed her condition as “irreversible”: it was predicted the paralysis she suffered would only get worse.
Until age 19, Alexandrina was still able to “drag herself” to Church. Where hunched over, she would remain in prayer, to the great amazement of the parishioners. With her paralysis and pain worsening, however, she was forced to remain immobile, and from April 14, 1925, until her death – approximately 30 years – she would remain bedridden, completely paralyzed.
Alexandrina continued to ask the Blessed Mother for the grace of miraculous healing, promising to become a missionary if she were healed.
Little by little, however, God helped her to see that suffering was her vocation and that she had a special call to be the Lord’s “victim.” The more Alexandrina “understood” that this was her mission, the more willingly she embraced it.
She said: “Our Lady has given me an even greater grace: first, abandonment; then, complete conformity to God’s will; finally, the thirst for suffering.”
On March 27, 1942, a new phase began for Alexandrina, which would continue for 13 years and seven months until her death. She received no nourishment of any kind except the Holy Eucharist, at one point weighing as few as 33 kilos (approximately 73 pounds).
Medical doctors remained baffled by this phenomenon and began to conduct various tests on Alexandrina, acting in a frigid and hostile way towards her. This increased her suffering and humiliation, but she remembered the words that Jesus himself spoke to her one day: “You will very rarely receive consolation… I want that while your heart is filled with suffering, on your lips there is a smile”.
As a result, 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 her interior desolation was.
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 died on October 13, 1955. Her last words: “I am happy because I am going to Heaven.”