SAINTS FROM NEIGHBOURHOOD
Lidia Dudkiewicz, The Editor-in-Chief of ‘Niedziela’
We all know who is implied in the phrase ‘A brother of our God’. The life story of Adam Chmielowski – an artist from Cracow, like a mirror, in which the life of Hanna Chrzanowska is reflected – a nurse from Cracow. The perfectly educated artist, a frequenter of salons, left everything one day, resigned from his artistic career, slammed the door behind his previous life and went out into the street, to the poor. He chose poverty, life in a shelter for the poor in Cracow in order to be with the poor who were his companions till the end of his life. He wanted to be so close to the poor that he became one of them. In his person love was walking along the streets of Cracow. Recently we have had an occasion to look at ‘A sister of our God’ - -this is how Paweł Zuchniewicz defined Hanna Chrzanowska, beatified on 28 April 2018. This is another love who was walking along the streets of Cracow, sometimes together with bishop Karol Wojtyła. The life way of Hanna Chrzanowska was interesting and was leading to God and to the ill. She came from a rich home of professors, which was religiously indifferent. She took after literary talent after her father – a famous prof. Ignacy Chrzanowski, a prominent historian of literature. First she followed her father, receiving education as a humanist. She began to study at the Jagiellonian University, and she even wrote three novels. At some point of her young life she made a decision which was perceived by some people acquainted to her as a misalliance.
She gave up everything - as the publicist of ‘Niedziela’ writes – ‘she decided somehow to step down the social ladder and become a nurse’. And , in fact, ‘a dame of nursing’. Hanna Chrzanowska developed her nursing knowledge and her professional skills during long foreign scholarships in Belgium, France and the United States. She raised the level to herself and other nurses whom she was preparing for the job – not only in hospitals. She also encouraged them to visit houses of the ill with her where the ill were forgotten by everybody. She was trying to spot the suffering where they were often in solitary, also in lofts and basements.
She had always wanted to be earlier than God in not only bringing a relief to others in their suffering but also in bringing a priest to somebody in need. She created a network of nursing in a parish. She contributed to the fact that in the arch-diocese of Cracow celebration of the Holy Mass was introduced in houses of the ill. Bishop Karol Wojtyła was delighted by her and supported her activity. In 1960 he began to visit the bedridden in the houses, also during his parish visits. And after many years, as a pope John Paul II he admitted to the family of Hanna Chrzanowska: ‘She has always been close to my heart’.
The life of the nurse from Cracow is beautifully inscribed in the modern exhortation of pope Francis about vocation to holiness, entitled: ‘Gaudete et exsultate’. The Holy Father states that everyone of us has a small way to holiness. One can only look around in order to notice the saints from naighbourhood – people being close to us are ‘the reflection of God’s presence’. For, the Holy Spirit is pouring out holiness everywhere. The pope notes the significance of small steps on the way to holiness. He refers to advice of a Vietnamese cardinal ‘to do ordinary things every day in unusual way’. Finally, he states that ‘there is only one reason for sadness – not being a saint’. And he assures us that holiness is the most beautiful image of the Church.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 17/2018 (29 IV 2018)