Alexandrina lived only on Jesus in the Eucharist for thirteen years

Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Some of the pilgrimages which go to Fatima visit the town of Balasar many miles north of Fatima. It became famous in 1832 when the earth changed to form the appearance of a large cross which you can still see today inside a chapel which has been built over it. That was preparing for events one century later, Alexandrina Maria da Costa suffering the passion of Jesus and living on the Eucharist alone for thirteen years. Alexandrina was born in April 1904. A dreadful thing happened to her in 1918 which left her life shattered ever afterwards. When she and her sister Deolinda and another girl were in the house alone three men knocked at the door, one of whom had previously tried to molest Alexandrina. They broke into the house. Alexandrina wanting to preserve her chastity jumped from an upstairs window. The men fled but Alexandrina’s spine was irreparably injured. Six years later she had to remain in bed for the rest of her life. The slightest movement caused her intense pain. She began to grow closer and closer to the Lord and realized that she was suffering in a special way for the salvation of souls. She received Holy Communion every day and her thoughts frequently turned to Jesus in the tabernacle. She went into her first ecstasy in 1931 when she heard Jesus say to her, “Love, suffer and make reparation.” She saw her vocation to be that of a victim soul, to make reparation for all of us. Under the orders of her spiritual director she began to dictate her life’s story to her sister but many times the devil threatened her not to write any more. In 1936 Our Lord asked her to spread the message of Fatima and to urge the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart and she offered herself as a victim soul for this. In one of her ecstasies Jesus said to her,

“Keep me company in the Blessed Sacrament. I remain in the tabernacle night and day, waiting to give my love and grace to all who would visit me. But so few come. I am so abandoned, so lonely, so offended…. Many…do not believe in my existence; they do not believe that I live in the tabernacle. They curse me. Others believe, but do not love me and do not visit me; they live as if I were not there… You have chosen to love me in the tabernacles where you can contemplate me, not with the eyes of the body, but those of the soul. I am truly present there as in Heaven, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.”
(All quotations here are from Alexandrina: The Agony and the Glory by Fr. Francis Johnston and published by Tan Books.)

From October 1938 Alexandrina began to suffer the passion of Jesus every Friday. She suffered the passion of Jesus 180 times during her life. Until 1942 she was suffering in silence without fame but after a report appeared in a newspaper from then on she was besieged by pilgrims asking for prayer. During Holy Week the same year, 1942, Jesus said to her,

“You will not take food again on earth. Your food will be my Flesh; your drink will be my Divine Blood …”

So on Good Friday 1942 she began an absolute fast which lasted for more than thirteen years until her death. The only nourishment which her pain-filled body received was Jesus in Holy Communion every morning. News of her fast spread and the crowds became even bigger. Some people had doubts and suspicions about her fast, so they accused her, her sister, and mother of fraud. Therefore she agreed to medical observation. The doctor asked her, “Why do you not eat?” She replied, “I do not eat because I cannot. I feel full. I do not need it. However, I have a longing for food.” It was decided that she should be admitted to a nearby hospital for a thirty day observation of her fast. While she was in the hospital some tried to persuade her to take food. The doctor in charge of the examination was nasty to her and at the end of the thirty days said the nurses watching her must have been deceived and decided she was to remain there for a further ten days. They even showed her tasty food to entice her to eat. When the test was finally over the doctor said to her he would visit her at home not as a doctor-spy but as a friend who esteems her. Part of the medical report reads as follows:

“Her abstinence from solids and liquids was absolute during all that time. We testify also that she retained her weight, and her temperature, breathing, blood pressure, pulse and blood were normal while her mental faculties were constant and lucid and she had not, during these forty days, any natural necessities…The laws of physiology and biochemistry cannot account for the survival of this sick woman…”

While medical science could not explain, the explanation was simple. Jesus had said to Alexandrina,

“You are living by the Eucharist alone because I want to prove to the world the power of the Eucharist and the power of my life in souls.”

She died on October 13th 1955, having received nourishment only from Holy Communion for more than thirteen years. Some of the pilgrimages to Fatima visit her town Balasar and you can visit her house, see her room and visit the local Church where she is buried to the left of the altar.

I was reminded of miraculous life of Alexandrina, who is now Blessed, i.e. on the way to being declared a saint, by the words of Jesus in our Gospel today,

“I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
He who believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35)

To the world it is irrational and stupid to think that bread changes to become the body of Jesus. It is equally irrational and stupid to think that a human can survive for thirteen years only being nourished by Holy Communion. But one is not more irrational than the other. Alexandrina is a sign given to the world by Jesus to remind us of his presence in the Eucharist. I recommend that you read the life of Alexandrina because I think you would benefit a lot from it. In 1996 our Holy Father Pope John Paul II declared Alexandrina Venerable and on April 25th 2005 he declared her Blessed.

I conclude now with some of the words of Jesus to Alexandrina,

“You are living by the Eucharist alone because I want to prove to the world the power of the Eucharist and the power of my life in souls.”

Jesus said to her,

“Keep me company in the Blessed Sacrament. I remain in the tabernacle night and day, waiting to give my love and grace to all who would visit me. But so few come. I am so abandoned, so lonely, so offended…. Many…do not believe in my existence; they do not believe that I live in the tabernacle. They curse me. Others believe, but do not love me and do not visit me; they live as if I were not there… You have chosen to love me in the tabernacles where you can contemplate me, not with the eyes of the body, but those of the soul. I am truly present there as in Heaven, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.”

“I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
He who believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35)

(Quotations are taken from Alexandrina: The Agony and the Glory by Francis Johnston and published by Tan Books. See also the biography by Fr. Umberto Pasquale, S.D.B. Alexandrina's action to preserve her chastity reminds us St. Maria Goretti who died instead of consenting to her molester.)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Eighteenth Sunday Year B

Related Homilies: John Chapter 6 - Jesus’ Sermon on the Eucharist 2011

The Eucharist and the Priesthood were born during the Last Supper

Miracle at Juarez: Give to Jesus and he gives to us

Faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and Eucharistic Miracles

Let Jesus Feast With You!

Jesus our Healer, healing through the Mass and sacraments

Pope John Paul II’s Letter on the Eucharist, Ecclesia de Eucharistia