Alexandrina was born in Balasar, in the province of Oporto and archdiocese of Braga (Portugal), on 30 March 1904 and was baptised on 2 April that year, Holy Saturday. She was brought up in the faith by her mother, along with her sister Deolinda. Alexandrina remained in the family until she turned seven and was then sent to Póvoa do Varzim to board with the family of a carpenter so she could attend the primary school that Balasar lacked. There she made her First Communion in 1911 and the following year received the sacrament of Confirmation from the bishop of Oporto.
Eighteen months later she returned to Balasar and went to live with her mother and sister in the “Calvario” area where she would remain until her death. She began to work in the fields, given her strong constitution: she kept ahead of the men and earned as much as they did. She was a lively young girl: endowed with a happy and communicative temperament, she was much loved by her friends. When twelve years of age she fell sick: a serious infection, perhaps a form of intestinal fever brought on by typhoid, and it brought her to the brink of death. She overcame this immediate danger, but this episode would affect her physique forever.
She was fourteen when a decisive event occurred in her life. It was Holy Saturday 1918. That day she, her sister Deolinda and another girl, an apprentice, were busy about their work sewing, when they saw three men trying to get into their room. They succeeded despite the doors being locked. Alexandrina, to save her purity now under threat, did not hesitate to throw herself out the window which was four metres above ground. The consequences were terrible, even though not immediate. In fact the various visits to doctors that she subsequently had to make diagnosed with ever greater clarity that the situation was irreversible. Until she turned nineteen she was still able to drag herself to church, all shrivelled up, where she would gladly spend time much to the amazement of the people. Then the paralysis progressed even more, and the pain was terrible, she lost all mobility and became completely paralysed. It was 14 April 1925 when Alexandrina took to her bed and never rose from it for the remaining thirty years of her life.
Until 1928 she did not cease to ask the Lord, through Our Lady's intercession, for the grace to recover, promising that if she was cured, she would become a missionary. But once she understood that suffering was her vocation she promptly embraced it. She used say: “Our Lady gave me an even greater grace. First resignation, then complete conformity to God's will, and finally the desire to suffer.” The first of the mystical phenomena go back to this period, when Alexandrina began a life of great union with Jesus in the Tabernacles with Mary Most Holy. One day when she was alone, this thought suddenly came to her: “Jesus, you are a prisoner in the Tabernacle and I too am in my bed through your will. Let us do this together.” From then on her first mission began: to be like a Tabernacle lamp. She spent her nights on mental pilgrimage from Tabernacle to Tabernacle. At every Mass she offered herself to the Eternal Father as a victim for sinners, together with Jesus and according to his intentions.
From 1934, at the invitation of Jesuit Father Mariano Pinho, who was her spiritual director until 1941, Alexandrina wrote down what Jesus told her from time to time.
In 1936, at Jesus' command, she asked the Holy Father through Father Pinho, to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She renewed this petition often until 1941 when the Holy See questioned the archbishop of Braga three times about Alexandrina.
Her love for suffering grew ever more in her as her vocation as a victim gradually became clearer to her. She made a vow to always do what was the most perfect thing to do. From Friday 3 October 1938 to 24 March 1942, or 182 times, she experienced the sufferings of the Passion every Friday. Overcoming her habitual state of paralysis Alexandrina got out of bed and with movements and gestures accompanied by anguishing pain, she followed the different stages of the Way of the Cross for three and a half hours. “Love, suffer, make reparation” was the programme the Lord pointed out to her.
On 31 October 1942 Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary through a message transmitted at Fatima in Portuguese. He renewed it in Rome in St Peter's Basilica on 8 December the same year. From 27 March 1942 onwards, Alexandrina ceased taking nourishment, living only from the Eucharist. In 1943 her absolute fast and anuresis were strictly controlled for forty days and nights by worthy doctors at the Foce del Douro hospital in Oporto.
In 1944 her new spiritual director, Salesian Father Umberto Maria Pasquale, encouraged Alexandrina to continue to dictate her diary, given the spiritual heights she had reached; she did this in a spirit of obedience until her death. Also during 1944 Alexandrina enrolled in the Salesian Cooperators. She wanted to place her Cooperator certificate “in a place where she could always have it in sight” so she could cooperate through her pain and with her prayers in the salvation of souls, especially of the young. She prayed and suffered for the sanctification of Cooperators throughout the world.
Despite her suffering she continued to show interest in acting on behalf of the poor, the spiritual good of the parishioners and many other people who sought her out. She promoted triduums, the forty hour devotion, and Lenten practices in her parish. Especially in the last years of her life, many people sought her out, coming from far away, attracted by her reputation for holiness; many attributed their conversion to her advice.
In 1950 Alexandrina celebrated her 25th year of immobility. On 7 January 1955 Jesus told her that this would be the year of her death. On 12 October she wanted to receive the Anointing of the sick. On 13 October, the anniversary of the Our Lady's last apparition at Fatima, she was heard to exclaim: “I am happy because I am going to Heaven.” She died at 7.30 p.m. In the afternoon of 15 October flower beds in Oporto were empty of white roses – they had all been sold. A floral tribute to Alexandrina who had been the white rose of Jesus.
In 1978 her remains were moved from the cemetery in Balasar to the parish church and her body lies there today in a side chapel. We can read the words she wanted on her tomb: “Sinners, if my body's ashes can be useful for your salvation, come near, walk over them, and trample on them till they disappear. But never sin again; no longer offend our Jesus!” This is the summary of her life spent exclusively for the salvation of souls.