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Blessed Alexandrina Process

History of the Cause

After Alexandrina's death, a large number of pilgrims continue to appear in Balasar.

It was common to hear the names "Saint of Balasar", "Mother of the Poor", "the Sick of Balasar". These designations expressed people's confidence in Alexandrina's holiness.

 

1965 - Don Francisco Maria da Silva - Archbishop of Braga - he proposes the opening of the Cause of the beatification of Alexandrina Maria da Costa.

The Archbishop of Braga - Don Francisco Maria da Silva - sought the opinion of the Bishops gathered in Fátima, on the opening of the Informative Process about the life, the virtues and the holiness of Alexandrina Maria da Costa.

After a positive response, in 1965, Don Francisco invited Father Humberto Pasquale, S.D.B., and second director of Alexandrina, to initiate the Process. In 1964, Father Hector Calovi, also Salesian, was nominated as Postulator of the Cause.

For four months, Father Humberto Pasquale and Father Hector Calovi, S.D.B., invited by the same Archbishop, were in Balasar and produced the book of 'Articles' which serve as the basis for the investigation of the Process, as well as the list of key witnesses who would be called to testify.

  

1967 - The diocesan Process is officially open.

The diocesan Process begins officially on January 14, 1967. Meanwhile, the ecclesiastical Court of Braga begins to question witnesses of the Process - 48 witnesses - family, friends and people connected to Alexandrina's life.  

The Court's work lasted for 5 years, until March 1972, with the testimony of 46 witnesses. However, all the writings of Alexandrina were collected and typed, resulting in a volume of over 4000 pages. All this documentation was sent to Rome, together with the minutes of the Process, immediately after its closure it is delivered to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. 

Opening of diocesan Process (Braga, 1967)

 

1973 - The Process is sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (Holy See).

On April 10, 1973, the Process is closed with the presence of the General Postulator of the Salesians - Father Carlos Orlando.

That same year, on May 21, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints begins a rigorous work examining all the writings and testimonies. Two experts on Theology and Mysticism verified if such writings contained anything contrary to the Faith. Individually, without knowing about each other, the two experts did their job and put in writing their opinion, and they delivered it in December 1976. 

Closing of the diocesan Process (Braga, 1973)

 

1977 - The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gives the Nihil Obstat.

On January 18, 1977, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gives the Nihil Obstat, not recognizing doctrinal or moral errors.

The opening of the documentation collected during the Process of Braga was authorized and it was initiated the development of the "Summary" of the testimony and other supporting evidence. Thus, in 1977, this working tool for those who were going over the Cause, the “Summary”, written in Italian and printed in a volume of 505 pages, was ready to be used.

A year later, the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued the decree which approves the writings.

Meanwhile, it was promoted the collection of the "Postulatory Letters", written individually not only by the Bishops of Portugal, but also by other people of notable ecclesiastical importance, as the Rector Major of the Salesians, Father Egídio Viganó. In those letters, the signatories ask the Holy Father the glorification of the Servant of God, justifying their request with the most diverse and powerful arguments.

 

 

 

One of the several “Postulatory Letters”, from a Thai Bishop to the Holy Father 

 

 

 

1980 - A formal request is held to the Holy Father.

On 25 July, with all the evidence collected, the Cause deserves to be accepted to be studied, and a formal request is presented to the Holy Father.

They reached the so called 'Information', which would be a short version of the Summary, prepared by the Patron of the Cause. In this document of 124 pages, they demonstrate that, based on the evidence collected, on the number and authority of the people who addressed the Holy Father for that purpose, the Cause deserves to be accepted to be studied. Seen in these terms, a formal request is presented to the Holy Father. The 'Information' is dated July 25, 1980.

However, before the delivery of the Cause for a detailed study which results in the recognition of the heroic virtues of the Servant of God and her proclamation of Venerable, all the documentation is carefully examined by the General Promoter of the Faith (the commonly called 'devil's advocate', because his task is to discover any fault or weakness that appears in the Process).

 

1983 - The General Promoter of the Faith has issued a positive opinion about the Cause

Usually, as a result of this full examination (named 'Disquisitio', a Latin word that means 'examination', 'research'), the General Promoter of the Faith presents a number of difficulties which the Postulation for the Cause must respond so that everything is very clear. This didn't happen with Alexandrina. Indeed, on the evidence provided and the force of arguments contained in it, the General Promoter of the Faith concluded his study by issuing a positive opinion about the Servant of God and how the Cause was conducted. The date of the document, with 38 pages, is January 31, 1983; the day the Church celebrates the Memory of Saint John Bosco, the Founder of the Salesian Family which Alexandrina belongs as Cooperator.

In 1991, a large volume called ‘Study about the Virtues’ was presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, by the Relator.

 

1996 - Alexandrina is declared Venerable.

On January 12, 1996, Alexandrina Maria da Costa is declared Venerable by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints: "In this case, the Servant of God, Alexandrina Maria da Costa, secular Virgin, Member of the Association of S.D.B Cooperators, heroically practiced the theological virtues - Faith, Hope and Charity - both for God and neighbor. She also practiced the cardinal virtues: Prudence, Justice, Strength, and Temperance. She ordered this decree to become public and stay recorded in the minutes of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints."

"Promulgation of Decrees" 

(L'Osservatore Romano, 20/01/1996)

Decree on the Virtues

DECREE ON THE VIRTUES

CONGREGATION FOR THE CAUSES OF SAINTS
from Braga

Beatification and Canonization Process
of the Servant of God

ALEXANDRINA MARIA DA COSTA
Secular Virgin
Member of the Association of Cooperators of Saint John Bosco
(1904-1955)

“But you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Alexandrina Maria da Costa was a living member of Christ and she received the call of the Lord to participate in the sufferings of the passion of the Lord Jesus, who "humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). United to the Divine Spouse, she followed him with love and she was devoted to him in the Calvary path for the conversion of the sinners and for the conversion of the souls, carrying out her task - entrusted to her by Heaven - of "loving, suffering and expiating."

The Servant of God, second daughter of Ana Maria da Costa, was born on March 30, 1904, in the village of Balasar (Gresufes), within the Archdiocese of Braga, Portugal, and she received Baptism three days later (April 2). Her mother, who was abandoned by her husband just before the wedding, endured with dignity the family burden and educated her daughters with strength and diligence under the laws of God and Church, giving them wonderful examples of prayer and acts of charity, especially for the sick.

From childhood, Alexandrina suffered the effects of tough poverty when the family have lost all goods and took out a large loan to help a needy relative. She attended primary school for a short period of time in Póvoa de Varzim, where she received her First Communion with great joy. After returning to her native village, she worked in the fields and learned sewing. She was very healthy; she was cheerful, jovial, affable and vivacious. She was assiduously devoted to prayer; she studied the catechism, participated in parish activities and she strove to correct her own flaws.

She also helped the sick and dying.

On Holy Saturday of 1918 she threw herself from a window to defend the virginity of some men who had sneaked into her house and since then she walked with difficulty and suffering. Initially, doctors couldn't make a right diagnosis, but later they concluded that she suffered from transverse myelitis. All treatments were ineffective and sufferings were increasing day by day, until 1925 when she was definitely confined to bed. The paralysis of the limbs was increasing more and more and eventually muscle atrophy was so profound that it prevented her from any movement.

In the early years of the disease, naturally, she urgently asked for the cure, but she was granted the grace of accepting the will of God and she also wanted to suffer even more. This way, her bed became an altar of sacrifice, her body a temple in which God performed wonders and her soul transformed into a blazing flame of charity. She began to feel a great pity for "Jesus, the prisoner of the Tabernacles", while she was more clearly aware of her vocation as a victim. Taught by Christ himself and guided by Him in the wisdom of the Cross, she offered herself as a victim of atonement; she accepted to be crucified and became a participant in the Redemption through her sufferings, a lot of atrocious and continuous sufferings. She experienced in her flesh and spirit the sufferings of Jesus' passion, evil diseases, and also temptations, periods of aridity and inside darkness, doubts against faith and mystical death. She was sad because she couldn't go to church and receive Holy Communion, and also because she didn’t want her admirable experiences to be known by everybody. She also suffered due to the disturbance caused by the people who visited her, due to the remoteness of her first spiritual director, to ecclesiastical and medical surveys, to their reproaches because they didn't believe her honesty. God has favored her with ecstasies, visions, knowledge of future events, peered hearts. Over the last thirteen years of her life she didn't take any food besides the Eucharistic Bread.

Although she was ill, she has held a great and fruitful apostolate: she kindly received all the visits with words of faith and consolation, urging them to receive the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, to pray the rosary, and she obtained the conversion of sinners many times. She taught the catechism to children for a long time; she was the caretaker of the Pious Union of the Apostolate of Prayer; she promoted the editing of catholic books and missions; she fostered priestly and religious vocations; she joined the Daughters of Mary and the Association of Salesian Cooperators. All the offers received from the benefactors favored her divine worship, the preaching of the Word of God; she helped her parish, the missions, the students of the seminars and young people who were in need, living in poverty and unemployed. She became involved in the celebration of religious feasts and Holy Masses; she contributed to the construction of houses for those who needed them. In 1936 she asked the Pope to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which Pius XII did on October 31, 1942.

Giving no thought to herself, she lived only for God and for neighbor and, among the thorns of suffering she grew beautiful and fragrant Christian virtues. Faith was the light of her thoughts, her affections, her words and actions. She firmly believed in Jesus Christ, the Gospel, in the truths revealed and the teachings of the Church. She perfectly fulfilled the commandments of God, readily obeyed the will of God and she was a docile instrument in His hands for the performance of the mission entrusted to her for the good of mankind.

She nourished a particular devotion to the Blessed Trinity, the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary after seeing the great mysteries of faith and prayer. Identifying herself with Christ nailed to the cross she said:

"I do not suffer: Jesus suffers in me"; and she repeats, speaking about herself, like Saint Paul: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20), and she adds: "I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions for the sake of His Body, which is the Church"(Colossians 1:24).

Her heart burned with love for God, the Church and the souls. She wrote:

"I will love Jesus in darkness, I will love Him in humiliation, suffering and anguish of soul; I will love Him with transports of joy, doing my utmost to fulfill His will."

She said at the same time that she was willing to suffer until the end of the world for the salvation of sinners.

In her grave headstone, compendium of her apostolate, she wanted the following words:

"Sinners, if the ashes of my body can be your salvation, come, step on them until they disappear, but do not sin and do not offend our Jesus again!

Sinners, I would like to tell you so many things!

This cemetery is too small to store them!

Repent!

Do not offend Jesus; you do not want to lose Him forever!

He is so good!

Enough with the sins!

Love Him! Love Him!"

She has shown the same charity towards her mother and sister Deolinda - who affectionately helped her - the poor, the sick, the souls in Purgatory; and those who have caused any grief received immediately her forgiveness and her grace. Sincerely humble, she saw herself as nothing before God and unworthy of any reputation before men; she avoided praises and rejoiced herself when she was neglected. Unrelated to the things of the world, she joyfully embraced temperance and poverty, placing her hope in God and Providence; she continuously tended to eternal reward, which she hoped to achieve not on her own merit, but on Christ merit. She was kept free and pure of any inordinate affection and she perfectly observed chastity, overcoming high temptations. In all circumstances she spoke and acted with supernatural prudence. She was fair towards God and the neighbor: she was strong in obedience to ecclesiastical superiors, in body and spirit suffering, in fidelity to duty and daily fulfillment of the divine will. Also near death, when suffering reached its maximum, she persevered with fortitude and generosity giving herself and her life. With serene mood she meets eternity murmuring:

 "I'm happy because I'm going to Heaven."

Comforted by the sacraments, she completed her painful path and with the lights on she gets into the house of God on the 13th of October 1955.

The people, who saw her as a saint, said:

 "The mother of the poor, the aid of the needy, and the comforter of the afflicted has died."

A large crowd visited her body and attended her funeral. In 1977, her body was moved to the parish church of Balasar, where it's venerated by innumerable faithful, who ask for her intercession.

The Archbishop of Braga started the Cause of beatification and canonization - due to her reputation as a Servant of God demonstrated in life, death and after death - celebrating the ordinary informative process (1967- 1973), whose authority and value were recognized by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, issuing a decree on November 16, 1990. After being completed the preparation of the Position, a discussion arose about Alexandrina's virtues. The Peculiar Congress of Theological Consulters successfully took place on May 13, 1995. Then the Cardinals and Bishops, in the Ordinary Session of the 7th of November of the same year, being Relator of the Cause Sir Dom Ottorino Pedro Alberti, Archbishop of Cagliari, acknowledged that the Servant of God Alexandrina Maria da Costa had observed in a heroic way the theological and cardinal virtues and others.

After a careful inventory of all this, made by the undersigned Pro-Prefect to the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, His Holiness accepted and ratified the vote of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and ordered the publication of the Decree on the heroic Virtues of the Servant of God.

Faithfully fulfilled what was settled before, the Holy Father called the undersigned Pro-Perfect, the Relator of the Cause and I, Bishop Secretary of the Congregation, also all the others who are usually convened, and solemnly declared:

“The Servant of God Alexandrina Maria da Costa, Secular Virgin, Member of the Association of Cooperators of Saint John Bosco, regarding the case and the effects that are connected to it, practiced the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity towards God and the neighbor; and also the cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Fortitude and others, in a heroic degree.”

And he gave the order to make the decree public and referenced in the minutes of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 

Rome, 12 January 1996.

 

† Alberto Bovone
Titular Archbishop of Caesarea in Numidia
Pro-Prefect

† Edward Nowak

Titular Archbishop of Luna
Secretary

Miracle | Madalena Fonseca

In the process of Alexandrina Maria da Costa, the miracle cure of Madalena Fonseca with Parkinson's disease was the "inexplicable" miracle.

 

MADALENA FONSECA

Maria Madalena Azevedo Gomes Fonseca was born on August 7, 1944, in Ribeirão, Vila Nova de Famalicão. Her father was a shoemaker and her mother took care of the household. She was the oldest of six brothers and when she was nine years old she left school to help and take care of her family; her mother fell ill after the last birth.

She returned to school at night when she was 16 years old to complete elementary education.

In 1964, at the age of 19, she married João dos Santos Fonseca and they had three children. To improve the economic situation of the family they moved to Strasbourg. There, the family continued their participation in the Church.

With 33 years old she begins to experience motor difficulties but the doctors cannot identify the disease. Over the years, these problems got worse, and she was even admitted to hospital. Later she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Her physical condition got more and more worse, reaching the weight of 33 kg.

 

THE CURE

In 1951, Madalena meets Alexandrina; a moment she remembered with affection.

In 1995, one of her relatives offered her a picture of Alexandrina. Madalena, radiant, asked for her intercession through God to find the cure. After twelve years of suffering, she decides to carry out a novena to Alexandrina and she completed it on March 3 of that same year - the first Friday of the month and Lent. She was 52 years old. From that day, she only remembers the moment she received Holy Communion because her condition was critical. A few hours later, she was cured and compelled to move, doing it smoothly. On the same day, her doctor came to her house and check that Madalena was walking without difficulty and was making gestures that were impossible until that moment. Thrilled, he recognized the divine action.

 

Here is the interview with Madalena, published by Correio da Manhã, on April 25, 2004, the day of Alexandrina's beatification:

- How do you feel about Alexandrina's beatification?

- A huge satisfaction. When I asked for my healing I asked for the glorification of God and Alexandrina.

- Do you still remember how the miracle happened?

- From that day (March 3, 1996), I remember almost nothing; I just remember the moment I received the Holy Eucharist at 15.30. My family says I was so sick that the doctor came to see me several times, until he said he couldn't do anything to save me.

But at night I was cured. I felt someone touching me and, from that moment, I remember everything. I saw before me my brother-in-law, a sister and a niece. I asked if I was disturbing. My brother-in-law said no. He said I was not well and an ambulance was coming to take me to the hospital. And I answered him: "You are crazy! I'm fine!" I felt a special strength to get up, I started to walk and make several movements. My muscles were loose.

- How did you ask for the intercession of Alexandrina?

- When I was putting away a picture of Alexandrina - that my brother had given me - I decided to make one more request and I prayed to God: "If Your Servant Alexandrina is with You, heal me, through her intercession and for Your glory and glorification of Alexandrina in this world." According to the picture, I completed a novena (recitation of the Rosary for 9 consecutive days).

- Do you feel you’re a different person today?

- I am a person like any other. I always had faith, but I have now a greater willingness to dedicate myself to God and help people, especially children and the elderly. Physically, I feel much stronger, even more than before I got sick. My legs take me to the end of the world. I do long walks as if nothing has happened. Working in the field, I can even leave some men behind."

 

  

Madalena Fonseca taking Alexandrina’s relic as her offering to the Holy See, in the celebration of the beatification of the Servant of God.

 

 

EVALUATION OF THE MIRACLE

After she has visited the tomb of the Blessed Alexandrina to thank her intercession, she reports what happened to Father Francisco Dias de Azevedo - the pastor of Balasar and promoter of the Cause - who makes the necessary arrangements for the evaluation of the case.

In March 7, 2002, the Primate, Archbishop Jorge Ferreira da Costa Ortiga provided a court which is responsible for studying a possible and miracle cure through the Servant of God Alexandrina Maria da Costa.

In the Archdiocese of Braga, the court had a group of people to analyzed this case: Canon Manuel Fernando de Sousa e Silva, judge-delegate; Father António José Fernandes de Carvalho Arieiro, assistant judge-delegate; Canon Guilherme Frederico Malvar Fonseca, public prosecutor; Father António de Oliveira Gomes, notary public; Father Manuel Joaquim de Sousa Lobato, notary public "ad causum"; Monsignor Joaquim Moisés Rebelo Quinteiro, vice-postulator and collaborator of Father Pasquale Liberatore, postulator-general of the Salesians.

During this diocesan phase of the process, the cure was evaluated by Dr. João Rafael Garcia and two neurology experts, João Manuel Leite Ramalho Fontes and Carolina Lobo de Almeida Garrett. In accordance with the opinion that the doctors of the Holy See have issued later, they considered it "a fact that cannot be naturally or scientifically explained."

 

Nowadays, Madalena Fonseca lives in Vila Nova de Famalicão and she works as an activity leader in her parish and she takes special care of children and the elderly.

Promoters of the Cause

Primate Archbishop of Braga - Don Francisco Maria da Silva

The Author of Alexandrina's Cause was the Archbishop of Braga - Don Francisco Maria da Silva - and he "promoted the cause about the heroic virtues or martyrdom of the Servant of God, and assumes moral and economic responsibilities." (Sanctorum Mater, Article 9)

At the closing session of the Diocesan Process, Don Francisco Maria da Silva said a few words. Here's an excerpt from that speech:

"I congratulate you because Alexandrina was a Salesian Cooperator too; I thank you because she belonged to this Diocese, GLORY OF THIS DIOCESE.

Now, I only have one wish: ‘Lord, give us all, or at least some of us, the grace to attend the big ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica to the Beatification of Alexandrina: give us all, or some, or at least someone, the glory of attend, in that same St. Peter's Basilica, the ceremony of the Canonization of that same Alexandrina Maria da Costa.’

And so, gentlemen, I finish this Session with these words."

 

POSTULATORS

 

Father Heitor Calovi, S.D.B (Vice Postulator)

Father Heitor Calovi was appointed Postulator of the Cause of Alexandrina Maria da Costa on October 11, 1964.

Together with Father Humberto Pasquale - the Salesian spiritual director of Alexandrina - he devoted himself "heart and soul" to the preparation of the conditions needed for the continuation of the Cause of Blessed Alexandrina. For many years, he participated in the parish activity of Balasar.

 

Father Heitor Calovi spoke at the last session of the diocesan Process too. Here is an excerpt:

"We have gathered here for the closure of the Diocesan Informative Process on the life, virtues and reputation for holiness of the Servant of God, Alexandrina Maria da Costa, from Balasar, opened by Your Excellency on January 14, 1967. At this moment, Your Excellency can contemplate the results of a study which were patiently and meticulously conducted through six years by the members of the Ecclesiastical Court, appointed by You for that purpose. They discussed, with the affection of a priest and the skills of an expert, the 127 articles, carefully prepared by the Postulation; they collected, through 110 sessions, the statements of 48 witnesses about the authenticity of those articles, and they bring their task to an end, presenting their work in the 1200 pages of the Process.

Alongside this impressive work, Your Excellency can admire another beautiful result of the Decree with which the collecting of the writings of the Servant of God was established. The Postulation of the Cause - that Your Excellency ordered to be handed over to the Salesian Congregation because, in the last quarter of her life, the Servant of God was helped by a Salesian, Father Humberto Maria Pasquale (who has been, after Alexandrina's death, her best biographer and passionate scholar), and she was a Salesian Cooperator - devoted itself to this work with solicitude and tireless zeal, making possible the presentation of 2138 pages of intimate feelings and autobiographical writings and 1757 pages of her collection of epistles, using the typewriter. [...]

A diocesan survey on the daughter of the Archdiocese of Braga reveals the existence of a source of pure water in the most genuine evangelical inspiration. The results of this survey will be discussed at a higher level, in Rome.

We follow it with a sense of overwhelming gratitude to the Lord and fervent prayer that soon will come the day of the glorification of His faithful Servant."

 

Father Carlos Orlando, S.D.B.

In 1964, Father Carlos Orlando was responsible for Alexandrina's Process as General Postulator for the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family. But after 1973, he followed the Cause more directly, from the transfer of the Cause for the Holy See to the writings approval by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

He attended the closing of the Diocesan Process in Braga.

 

 

 

 

 

Father Luigi Fiora, S.D.B.

In 1978, Father Luigi Fiora was appointed General Postulator for the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family, thereby assuming the Cause of Alexandrina. He participated in the collecting of the "Postulatory Letters" and then in the formal request to the Holy Father for the study of the Cause as well as the preparation of other important documents.

 

 

 

Father Pasquale Liberatore, S.D.B.

In 1992, he became the General Postulator for the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family. During his period as Postulator, he continued the work on the recognition of Alexandrina’s Christian virtues in the heroic way and "saw her" to be declared Venerable.

 

 

 

 

 

Father Enrico dal Covolo, S.D.B.

In 2003, he was appointed General Postulator for the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family. This Postulator followed the analysis and evaluation of the miracle needed for the beatification, which took place in 2004. He attended Alexandrina's beatification and other two members of the Salesian Family.

 

 

 

 

Father Pierluigi Cameroni, S.D.B.

In 2010, he was appointed General Postulator for the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family, and he take on this role until today. He visited Balasar several times and he is the author of books about Blessed Alexandrina. 

 

Schedule
2016-2017
Marian year
september 14
Exaltation of the Holy Cross
October 13 2017
Liturgical Feast of Blessed Alexandrina of Balasar| 62nd anniversary of her death
October 31 2017
75th anniversary of the Consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
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Tel. Church: (00351) 252 951 601

Tel. Foundation: (00351) 252 951 264

Tlm Foundation: (000351) 963 649 183

E-mail: fundacao@alexandrinadebalasar.com

Rua Alexandrina Maria da Costa, 21

4570-017 Balasar PVZ

Portugal

GPS     41º 24' 17'' N    8º 37' 31'' W

Reception Center (Church):

09 a.m. - 12:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.

House of Blessed Alexandrina:

Winter hour

09 a.m. - 12 a.m. and 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Summer hour

Week - 09 a.m. - 12 a.m. and 2 p.m. - 7p.m.

Sunday and Holy days - 8 a.m to 7 p.m.