Meet a Martyr of Chastity: Blessed Albertina Berkenbrock

Blessed Albertina Berkenbrock was murdered at the age of twelve in São Luís, in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, for heroically defending her chastity.

Newsroom (18/06/2024 10:37, Gaudium Press) The daughter of a farming couple, Henrique and Josefina Berkenbrock, the Brazilian martyr to purity, Albertina Berkenbrock, was born on April 11, 1919 in the community of São Luís, state of Santa Catarina, Brazil.

At the age of 12, on June 15, 1931, Albertina was brutally murdered for choosing to preserve her spiritual and bodily purity because of her faith and fidelity to God. And she did so heroically: she preferred to die rather than sin.

Martyrdom

On that occasion, at her father’s request, the young woman set off in search of a missing ox. By chance, she found Maneco, a servant from her parents’ house, near some animals – which she thought were the missing ox – carrying beans in his cart.

She asked him where the animal was and he pointed her in the wrong direction, taking her to a place where he tried to satisfy his impure desires. However, Albertina didn’t let herself be subjected. She resisted with courage and determination, not giving in to the aggressor’s advances.

When she was knocked down, the young woman covered herself as much as possible with her dress and, unable to defeat her, Maneco struck her in the neck with a penknife, taking Albertina’s life. At that moment, “her body is bathed in blood… Her purity and virginity, however, remain intact”.

The news of her martyrdom and her subsequent reputation for holiness spread quickly, without anyone doubting her virtues, which were observed and lived by her in a clear and convincing way, despite her few years of life.

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Holiness

She was extremely sensitive in her relationship with God, in spiritual matters, as well as in her interactions with other people and their needs.

Her parents and family knew how to educate Albertina in faith, hope and charity – the theological virtues. Through their lives and their teaching, they passed on to her all the truths revealed in Sacred Scripture.

And Albertina responded to everything with great generosity of soul, seeking inspiration and strength in God to live, something that became spontaneous for her. She found joy in prayer, whether individually, with her family or in her small community, and actively participated in the religious life of her parish.

“It was the most beautiful day of my life!”

When the time came for catechetical preparation for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, Albertina stood out for the diligent and generous way in which she prepared.

Her “first confession” became like an open door to regular confession, and her “first communion” was an extraordinary moment for her, a unique experience of ordinary mysticism that led her to say: “- It was the most beautiful day of my life!”

From her ‘happiest day’ onwards, she never stopped participating in the Eucharist, making this Sacrament “the source and summit of her Christian life”. With her simple way of expressing herself, she liked to talk about the Eucharistic mystery as an experience of God’s love.

Devotion to Our Lady and St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Like every predestined person, Albertina also had a very filial devotion to Our Lady. She venerated the Virgin of Virgins with a true affection, more loving than scholarly, both inside her home, in the family environment, and among her brothers and sisters in the Faith, in the community church.

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By praying the rosary with commitment and reciting it with his family, she often entrusted her soul and her eternal salvation to Our Lady.

Her devotion to Saint Louis of Gonzaga, the patron saint of her small town, was something very special and providential, as it brought her very close to the young saint, whom the Church recognizes as a model of purity.

This spiritual affinity was fundamental in strengthening her when she had to defend, with her own life, the angelic virtue that they both practiced and loved so much.

Family upbringing

Albertina was also shaped by the religious education she received from her family, which led her to practice other Christian virtues, such as kindness, hospitality, tenderness, docility and service to others out of love for God.

She was exemplary in her obedience and tireless in both her work and studies. She also showed a remarkable spirit of sacrifice, patience, trust and courage.

Her attitudes in the family and in the community radiated the perfume of virtue, serving as an example and inspiring good. Her patience in the face of disrespectful attitudes and belittling attacks directed at her made her much admired.

Her courage in saying no and giving up her life for the love of virginity is the main reason for the spread of her veneration.

In fact, it is a beautiful thing that the first Brazilian blessed by birth is a young martyr for chastity, thus showing that God wants holy and pure young people for Brazil! The practice of chastity is often interpreted as a heavy burden and an imposed obligation that keeps us from happiness. However, this is not true. Purity grants those who practice it the happiness mentioned by Our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). Living this Commandment brings joy, peace of mind and, as Albertina’s own example shows us, extraordinary fortitude.

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The solemn celebration of Albertina’s beatification took place on October 20, 2007, in front of the Tubarão Diocesan Cathedral.

Compiled by Teresa Joseph 

 

 

 

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