Friday, June 17, 2016: St. Albert Chmielowski (Feast Day: June 17) (1845-1916):
Feast Day: June 17
St. Albert Chmielowski
Born in Igolomia near Kraków as the eldest of four children in a wealthy family, he was christened Adam. During the 1864 revolt against Czar Alexander III, Adam’s wounds forced the amputation of his left leg.
His great talent for painting led to studies in Warsaw, Munich and Paris. Adam returned to Kraków and became a Secular Franciscan. In 1888 he took the name Albert when he founded the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Servants to the Poor. They worked primarily with the homeless, depending completely on alms while serving the needy, regardless of age, religion or politics. A community of Albertine sisters was established later.
St. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1983 and canonized him six years later.
Reflecting on his own priestly vocation, St. Pope John Paul II wrote in 1996 that Brother Albert had played a role in its formation "because I found in him a real spiritual support and example in leaving behind the world of art, literature and the theater, and in making the radical choice of a vocation to the priesthood" (Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination, p. 33). As a young priest, Karol Wojtyla repaid his debt of gratitude by writing The Brother of Our God, a play about Brother Albert’s life.
The first reading at the canonization included Isaiah 58:6 (“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”). The pope referred to this passage and said: “This is the theology of messianic liberation, which contains what we are accustomed to calling today the ‘option for the poor’.... In this tireless, heroic service on behalf of the marginalized and the poor, he [Albert] ultimately found his path. He found Christ. He took upon himself Christ’s yoke and burden; he did not become merely ‘one of those who give alms,’ but became the brother to those he served...” (L'Osservatore Romano 1989, Vol. 49, No. 9).