Soon-to-be beatified nurse, laywoman lived for others

Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska Public Domain Wikipedia CNA Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska. Public Domain, Wikipedia.

Hanna Chrzanowska, a 20th-century Polish nurse and laywoman who will be beatified in Krakow Saturday, is a model of how to give of oneself for the good of others, said a priest involved with her canonization cause.

"The laity know well the reality of everyday life," Fr. Pawel Galuszka said. "Hanna, as a nurse, knew in person and from experience the problems of the sick, alone, abandoned and disabled."

A Polish priest responsible for the pastoral section of the beatification cause of Hanna Chrzanowska, Galuszka told CNA via email that "in today's culture the logic of the market prevails... In every aspect of life we tend to calculate profit or utility."

Chrzanowska, on the other hand, "teaches us how important it is to make a sincere gift of oneself, even sacrifice, for the good of the other. This is, and will be, the very legacy of Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska."

Galuszka noted that St. John Paul II, then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, knew Chrzanowska during her life, and when he presided over her funeral said: "We thank you, Miss Hanna, for having been among us... a particular incarnation of Christ's blessings from the Sermon on the Mount, above all that he said 'blessed [are] the merciful.'"

"The bishop of Krakow [St. John Paul II] had no doubt that Hanna in a heroic way fulfilled the commandment of love of neighbor," Galuszka noted.

Meeting Cardinal Wojtyla was one of the special moments in Chrzanowska's life, the priest recounted, adding that the then-bishop of Krakow gave her "real moral and material help" during her organization of various parish infirmaries throughout the city and archdiocese.

"Equipped with a charismatic personality, she concentrated a significant group of collaborators and volunteers around her work, among them nurses, nuns, seminarians, priests, doctors, professors and students," Galuszka said.

"With their help, she organized retreats for her patients that brought back the joy and the strength to face everyday life. Thanks to her efforts, the tradition of celebrating Holy Mass in the homes of the sick, and going to visit patients during pastoral visits, spread."

Chrzanowska was born in Warsaw on October 7, 1902 to a family known for their charitable work. She finished high school at a school run by Ursuline sisters in Krakow and after graduating in 1922 attended nursing school in Warsaw.

From 1926-1929 she worked as an instructor at the University School of Nurses and Hygienists in Krakow. For 10 years she held the position of editor of the monthly "Nurse Poland" magazine, also publishing her own work in the field of nursing.

During this period, she also grew closer to God, joining in the work of the Catholic Association of Polish Nurses in 1937.

In 1939, Poland saw the outbreak of World War II. After the war and after the opening of a university school of maternity and nursing in Krakow, she worked as the head of the department dedicated to home nursing.

Chrzanowska was especially dedicated to the proper formation and preparation of her students, including offering advice and assistance while accompanying her students on visits to patients confined at home.

Inspired by Benedictine spirituality, she became a Benedictine oblate in 1956.

In 1966 she contracted cancer. Despite operations, the disease spread and eventually led to her death on April 29, 1973 in Krakow.

Her cause for canonization was opened Nov. 3, 1998, and her beatification Mass will take place at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow April 28.

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Galuszka said that the miracle which paved the way for Chrzanowska's beatification was the healing of a 66-year-old woman, who had suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and mild heart attack.

The woman had become paralyzed in both legs and a hand and was considered to have no chance of surviving.

While in a coma, she had a dream that Hanna Chrzanowska appeared to her and said, "Everything will be fine." Waking soon after, she surprised the doctors, because not only could she speak normally, but she could move her limbs, Galuszka said.

It was later discovered that on the same day she was miraculously healed, the woman's friend, a nurse, had attended a Mass and prayed for her healing through the intercession of Venerable Hanna Chrzanowska.

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