In preparation for the feast of our Beata, let's start today to transcribe the penultimate chapter of For Love Alone! by Eugenia Signorile. It will be undoubtedly a nice wellspring for meditation. Let’s fix ourselves this time on her growing physical sufferings.
If we take an overall look at the last decade of Alexandrina’s life, we see that the martyrdom of the victim increases continually, with sufferings of all kinds.
During an ecstasy of the Passion (interior), when describing the actual ascent of Calvary, Alexandrina dictated:
The closer one approaches the top of the mountain, the more difficult the climb becomes: more agony, more blood, more abandonment, more pain. S (12-1-51)
This statement aptly defines the path her life was taking during this period. Sufferings were invading her whole person, as much in the physical sphere as in the spiritual. We will look at each separately – even if they are not, in essence, separable – because one influences the other.
From the end of 1944 she started to feel that the eyes suffer with the light. Fr Umberto offered her dark curtains to cover the window. In 1945 she alludes to this torment repeatedly.
I pass my days in a dark prison: the eyes of my body cannot see light and my soul has no light. S (23-7-45)
My daughter, my spouse, listen: I am leading you. Your suffering will increase: the eyes of your body will be always as if light did not exist.
The darkness and the pain of your soul will be unutterable. S (31-8-45)
My blindness grows, my darkness increases. I do not see. The world darkened: it seems that God did not create light (...) S (6-9-45)
January 1955 arrived, the confined space of the room and almost complete blindness gave her the impression of being in a dungeon in which she was unable to breathe:
(...) to poor nature everything is repugnant: even now not being able to reach to see the light makes my room into a dark dungeon.
My need of air and not being able to reach to see the light seems to take me almost to the point of desperation.
The affliction is such that it seems to me that all my being crumbles. S (14-1-55)
Early on Easter morning, 1955, she was to have a slight relief from the torment of blindness. (Dr. Azevedo had told her to ask Jesus for it.) But it would be temporary. In the ecstasy of Good Friday, 8th April, Jesus said to her:
- My daughter, on the morning of Easter Sunday you will see not complete light, but a half-light. I will be the strength of your eyes.
I will not alleviate your sufferings; no, my daughter, no! You will remain thus until your death. When they ask if you are better, answer with a smile. Jesus alleviates on one side to overload the other. You have no alleluia, neither in the body nor in the soul. Leave them (the alleluias) for Me, to stay the arm of my Father’s justice and to save souls. (...) This light will not be lasting: you will have some hour per day, some hours, some days. S (8-4-55)
Alexandrina also had frequent haemorrhages and other afflictions which caused a daily loss of blood. We saw the note of Dr. Azevedo in the Diary of 9th November 1945. The day before Alexandrina had dictated:
I said many times to Jesus: I want to give all to You, all until the last drop of my blood for your divine love and for the rescue of sinners, just as You have given yours for me. But I did not think that Jesus took things so seriously!
Only yesterday I remembered my offer to Jesus and, because I feel that I am without blood, without life, I fear, from one moment to the next, to leave the world without the promises of Jesus being realized (that they would bring Fr. Pinho back as her director). S (8-11-45)
Two weeks later she dictated a telling metaphor:
I feel that my body has reached the last spasms of its life. It is like an engine that does not have strength to pull the weight of its carriages. S (21-11-45)
The same November, Jesus said to her:
To speak has become a great sacrifice for you, but do not be afraid, because your life of love, your life for the good of souls will continue in your looks, smiles and sweetness until the last instant.
What a life of enchantments and divine wonders! S (23-11-45)
With the passing of the years, of course, this sacrifice always became harder:
At each effort that I make to pronounce a word, all my being seems to frustrate itself, such is the suffering that I feel. O Jesus, everything for your love and for the salvation of souls! May all my life be to suffer and to love You, to love You and to suffer! Without pain I would never be able to live. S (24-10-52)
Even to dictate the diary became progressively more painful! In the entry of 15 October 1954 we read:
Only Heaven sees, it alone can evaluate my sacrifice. I cannot speak: at each word that I pronounce it seems as if a jet of blood spurts to my lips.
It is only for the love of Jesus and of souls that I make so great a sacrifice. To obey (Fr Umberto had ordered to her to go on dictating the diary and to send it to him in Italy) when and if we can, does not cost, but when it is achieved by such unutterable suffering, it is an unheard of sacrifice!
The pains of the body are so colossal, and those of the soul measure themselves by them.
O Heaven, O Heaven, O life without life! S (15-10-54).
Her heroism in sacrifice will continue for almost eleven months: the last diary entry carries the date, 2nd September 1955!
By the end of 1946 the joints of the arms and the vertebrae had dislocated themselves! Dr. Azevedo decided to intervene: he prepared two supports in the form of an elongated S, that he attached to the sides of the bed’s headboards; he tightly wrapped Alexandrina’s arms and bound them on these supports in such a way that they held her by passing under her arm-pits. Moreover he placed hard boards under her mattress and wrapped her whole body around them.
Alexandrina was to remain like this for nine long years until her death.
This happened exactly on 3rd October, the anniversary of her first crucifixion.
(This anniversary day,) without reflecting or linking anything, also happens to be the date on which my poor body, swaddled, was placed on hard boards.
But, in spite of this, I went on thirsting for more and more pain, more and more love. S (4-10-46)
This bed became her bed of thorns.
I want to be a victim of Jesus and, because I want to be a victim, it is with the smile of the soul, the smile of good will, that I continue to be a victim on my bed of thorns. How I am tangled in them! How I am hindered in the smallest movement! How much they wound me! S (10-7-49)
On top of this she was frequently in a fever, which gave her the sensation of having her flesh destroyed.
My poor body continues to be a skeleton: skull, wounds, thorns, arrows, pain and blood, sometimes this one, sometimes that.
What is my pain? Only Jesus understands it. That is enough for me. S (12-9-47)
The martyrdom is always the same, only with the increase of the ardours of the fever and excruciating pains, almost insupportable pains. What an affliction! Only Jesus sees it and knows and understands. S (4-11-49)
My body is scorched, inside and out, sometimes it seems to burn in a true hell. I ask for relief, I ask for the position to change, to be able to resist without desperation. In other parts of my body the ice freezes me: fire and ice at the same time; cold, ice that aches, that torments like fire. S (12-3-54)
Of course, insomnia doesn’t fail to follow!
I passed a night vigil. I suffered very much; I could not pray. Only at one time or other I could utter an ejaculation. But I remained always united to Jesus and I was always His victim. S (7-11-53)
In my nights of vigil I pray, I pray, I unite myself to my Loves, I offer to Them my tears, but it does not help at all: all my efforts are in vain! S (18-3-55)