quarta-feira, 9 de março de 2011

The coming to Póvoa de Varzim

The coastal town of Póvoa de Varzim meant a lot to Alexandrina. It was there that she learned the rudiments of reading and writing, and something of urban life, to have experience of ways of life other than those of the agricultural surroundings she was born into – things like commerce and fishing and urban leisure pursuits. It was here, too, that she got to know the sea to which reference is frequently made in her writings; the greater part of her free time was spent near the sea.
It was in Póvoa that she received her first Holy Communion, and frequented the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows, where she could appreciate a liturgy which was certainly richer, on the great religious feasts than she was used to in Balasar.
Fr Pinho lived in Póvoa when he first came to Balasar, and many of her faithful friends lived in this town too.
In her Autobiography she remembers the time that she passed in Póvoa, but Fr Leopoldine Mateus (a native of Lapa and who was coadjutor of the Matriz  – the main parish church in Portuguese towns and cities – of Póvoa) also registers some useful information on this period in articles that he wrote for Ala-Arriba newspaper.

“Alexandrina, at the age of six, and Deolinda, nine, had come to the pension of a carpenter of Póvoa de Varzim because there was no school for girls in Balasar,” wrote Fr Leopoldine[1]. She, in turn, dictated:

In January 1911, I went with my sister Deolinda to Póvoa de Varzim, to frequent the school. I do not want to think how much I suffered with being separated from my family. I cried very much and for a long time.

In accordance with Fr Umberto Pasquale, “the two sisters had been placed in the house of the carpenter Peter Teixeira Novo, in Rua da Junqueira[2]. They attended the “Mónica Cardia” school where their teacher was Dona Emily Rosa de Freitas Álvares, who lived on Rua Almirante Reis”.
As Póvoa de Varzim was not then divided in three parishes (Matriz, St José of Ribamar and Lapa) as it is today, it can be said that little Alexandrina was at that time a parishioner of the Matriz living in a street that today is part of St José of Ribamar parish.
She continues:

They distracted me, they cheered me, they made me do everything they wanted and, after some time, I resigned myself.
I continued to be very troublesome: I hung from the street-cars which were called ‘americans’, I hung on tight and then let go my grip and fell to the ground; then I crossed the street, when they were passing, so that the conductor wouldn’t report to me the owner. Oft I ran away from the house and went to gather seaweed on the beach, going into the sea as the fisherwomen do; I’d bring the seaweed back to the house and give it to the mistress, who would later sell it to farmers. The master didn’t approve of this so I would do it in secret, and quickly.

Fr Leopoldine Mateus, who knew his illustrious parishioner well, left this testimony on her relation with the sea and the people that worked there:

Our Alexandrina, still small and not accustomed to the proximity of the ocean, because she came from an inland village, was impressed in such way that she could appreciate the sufferings of those who lived off the sea. She was touched by their hardships, as if they were members of her own family.
This is why, years later, when fishermen visited her imprisoned on her bed, she knew how to speak to them, how to comfort and encourage them using expressions that a stranger to their way of life would not know how to employ.
 In her conversations, never failed to encourage their devotion to Our Lady (to the heavenly Mother, as she used to say), Star of the Sea, Lady of Navigators and of all those who travel on the sea.

Rua da Junqueira during young Alexandrina’s time there
Alexandrina attended the primary school on the second floor of this building
Póvoa’s anchorage at the beginning of the 20th century

[1] The excerpts of Fr Leopoldine that we transcribe belong to his article “Alexandrina Maria da Costa e os homens do mar”, and it was published in the “Ala Arriba” in 14/1/56.
[2] The name of Peter Teixeira Novo’s wife was Maria Mataca. It is interesting to note that Alexandrina had been in Rua da Junqueira on a previous occasion… indeed, before she was born, when her mother went there to announce to Alexandrina’s father that she was pregnant and, to her humiliation, discovered him with another woman.

Sem comentários:

Enviar um comentário