There are many stories of Fatima and for everything to be told would be like an Encyclopaedia. One of these stories will be better known on April 25, 2004 when Pope John Paul II declares Alexandrina blessed. If you do not know her story, you can get a great book from Tan Book and Publishers called "Alexandrina, The Agony and The Glory" by Francis Johnson.
Some of the pilgrimages which go to Fatima visit the town of Balasar 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. Almost exactly 100 years later in the same town, Alexandrina Maria da Costa started suffering the passion of Jesus in answer to the request of Our Lady of Fatima. She ended her life living on the Eucharist alone for the last thirteen years.
Alexandrina was born in April 1904. In 1918, the year after the apparitions of Fatima, Alexandrina and her sister Deolinda and another girl were home when three men knocked at the door, one of whom had previously tried to molest Alexandrina. They broke into the house. Alexandrina (to preserve her chastity) jumped from an upstairs window. The men fled but Alexandrina’s spine had been irreparably injured and 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 realised 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 order of her spiritual director she was dictating 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.”
From October 1938 Alexandrina began to suffer the passion of Jesus every Friday. She suffered the passion of Jesus 180 times. 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 the Holy Week the same year 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 the more than thirteen years until her death. The only nourishment which her body filled with pain 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 and 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 13th October 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.