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New persons beatified by the Pope – brief descriptions

07 sierpnia 2002 | 17:18 | Ⓒ Ⓟ

During the Holy Mass John Paul II will beatify four people. These will be Archbishop Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński, Father Jan Beyzym, Sr. Sancja Szymkowiak and Fr. Jerzy Balicki.

The following are short descriptions of the new people to be beatified.
*Father Jan Balicki (1869-1948)* came from a very poor but devoutly religious family from the vicinity of Rzeszów. On graduation from the seminary in Przemyśl he was ordained priest in 1892. A year later he began studying theology at the Gregorianum University in Rome, which he finished obtaining a doctoral degree. After his return to Poland he worked as prefect and lecturer at the Przemyśl seminary, and was its Rector between 1928-1934. Upon his retirement he spent most of his time as a confessor in the confessional box. When still a young priest he founded a house for wayward girls, which made him an object of sneers and libels. The house was closed down when the Soviet army entered Przemyśl during World War II. This was a painful blow for the Venerable Jan Balicki. He died in the odour of sanctity on March 15, 1948. Since then his grave has been the destination point of numerous pilgrimages and people have left strips of paper with requests and words of gratitude for the graces received through the intercession of the Venerable Father.
*Father Jan Beyzym* a Jesuit who worked as a missionary in Madagascar, is known as the „servant of lepers”. He was born in Wołyń in 1850. In 1872 he entered the Jesuit Order and 26 years later left for Madagascar. He is believed to be the precursor of modern medical care for leprosy patients. Thanks to the assistance of the residents of Galicia, in 1911 he was able to construct a well-furnished hospital in Marana. The hospital, which is still in operation, was the place where lepers received first professional medical treatment and an ongoing spiritual counselling. The high altar of the hospital chapel features a copy of the image of Our Lady of Częstochowa, shipped to Madagascar by Fr. Beyzym. Till today the Malagasy patients have been venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary of Jasna Góra and they refer to Her as „brown as we are and hurt as we are.”
The „servant of lepers” died of poverty and exposure on October 2, 1912. The beatification process of Fr. Jan Beyzym SI started in 1984. The decree of the Congregation for Canonisations, testifying to the heroic life and virtues of Fr. Beyzym was read out at the Vatican in John Paul II’s presence on December 21, 1992.
*Archbishop Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński* was Metropolitan of Warsaw at the time of the January Uprising. He spent 20 years in exile in Siberia for his letter written in defence of the Church and the Polish nation.
He was born in 1822 in Wołyń. He took part in the Poznań Uprising of 1848. He was ordained to priesthood in 1855, and then set up a hostel for orphans and the homeless in Petersburg. In 1857 he founded the Congregation for the Sisters of Mary’s Family. He became the Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw in 1862. Within the next two years he reformed seminaries and the Spiritual Academy in Warsaw, established a hostel for underprivileged children and propagated the May devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
During the January Uprising, in March 1863, he wrote a letter to Tsar Alexander II in defence of the Church and the nation, for which he was incarcerated and exiled to Jarosław on the Volga River. On deliverance from exile in 1883 he was forbidden to return to Warsaw. He died in Cracow on September 17, 1895. In 1920 his body was transferred to Warsaw and a year later laid in one of the crypts of the Warsaw Cathedral.
The information process of Archbishop Feliński was began by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński in 1965 and was finished by Cardinal Józef Glemp in 1984. In 1988 the Congregation for Canonisations confirmed the validity of the information process.
*Sr. Sancja Janina Szymkowiak*, daughter of Our Lady of Sorrows, endeavoured to reach sainthood through her everyday care about neighbours. Her intercession led to a miraculous cure of a girl from Poznań.
Sancja Szymkowiak was born in 1910. She came from the village of Możdżanów near Ostrów Wielkopolski. She studied Romanesque languages at the University of Poznań. While a student she would visit the needy in the poorest district of the city, the so-called “Funhouse.” In 1936, entering the Congregation of Daughters of Our Lady of Sorrows in Poznań, she often expressed her innermost wish: „I need to be a saint at all costs.”
In the Congregation Sr. Sancja performed the duties of a tutor, teacher, translator, porter, and refectory attendant. At the beginning of the Nazi occupation she did not return to her family home but remained in the community. As a translator she took care of the French and English POWs kept in the building of the Congregation. Debilitated by extreme cold and hunger, she went down with tuberculosis and died on August 29, 1942. The Sisters recall that the prisoners of war would come up to kiss her lifeless hand and repeat “Saint Sancja.”
The beatification process of Sr. Sancja began in 1968. Eleven years later her documents were transferred to the Congregation for Canonisations, which confirmed the heroic character of the nun’s virtues on December 18, 2000.

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