Saint January 30 : Blessed Bronislao Markiewicz a Salesian Priest from Poland who Started an Orphanage


Bronislao Markiewicz, the sixth of the eleven children of John Markiewicz, City Mayor, and Marianna Gryziecka, was born on the 13th of July 1842 in Pruchnik, Poland, in the present day Archdiocese of Przemyśl dei Latini. In his family home, he received a solid religious formation.

Nonetheless, during his secondary studies in Przemyśl he experienced a certain wavering in the faith due, in large part, to the strong anti-religious atmosphere which dominated the school. However, he succeeded in overcoming this in a relatively short period, once again finding peace and serenity.

Feeling a call from God to the priesthood, the young Bronislao entered the major seminary of Przemyśl in 1863 after having received the Maturity diploma. Upon completion of the regular course of study he was ordained to the priesthood on September 15, 1867. Following six years of pastoral wok as a parochial vicar in the Parish of Harta and the Cathedral of Przemyśl, seeking to become better equipped to work with youth, he studied pedagogy, philosophy and history for two years in the Universities of Leopoli and Cracow. In 1875 he was named pastor at Gac and in 1877 pastor at Błażowa. In 1882 he was entrusted a teaching position in pastoral theology and the Major Seminary of Przemyśl           

Hearing a call to the religious life, he left for Italy in the month of November 1885 and joined the Salesians where he had the joy of meeting Saint John Bosco before whom he professed religious vows on March 25, 1887.

As a Salesian he carried out the various tasks assigned to him by his superiors, which he sought to accomplish with dedication and zeal. Due to the austerity of the lifestyle and the change of climate, Fr. Bronislao fell gravely ill with consumption in 1889, to the point of having been considered close to death. Having recovered from his illness, he convalesced in Italy until March 23, 1892 when, with the permission of his Superiors, he returned to Poland where he assumed the assignment of Pastor at Miejsce Piastowe, in Przemyśl his native Diocese.

In addition to his ordinary pastoral activity, Father dedicated himself, in the Spirit of St John Bosco, to the formation of poor and orphaned youth. He opened an institute in which he offered his students both material and spiritual support preparing them for life with a professional formation in the schools around the institute itself.  To carry on his work, he decided in 1897 to found two new religious congregations based on the spirituality of St. John Bosco, adapting his rules to reflect their own Charism. Once again received among the clergy of the Diocese of Przemyśl, Father Markiewicz continued his work as Pastor and Director of the Society (erected in 1898) which he named Temperance and Work,  seeking to obtain its approbation as a religious institute. The approbation was granted a few years after his death: in 1921 for the male branch and in 1928 for the female branch.

With the approval and blessing of his bishop Saint Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, Fr. Bronislao continued his activity forming youth and abandoned and orphaned children. He was assisted by collaborators to whose preparation and formation he himself always contributed. Already at Miejce Piastowe he had offered a home and formation to hundreds of children giving of himself totally for them. Always desiring to do more for them, in the month of August of 1903, Fr. Markiewicz opened a new house in Pawlikowice, near Cracow, where over 400 orphans found a house and the possibility for spiritual and professional formation.

His total dedication to children, his heroic self-denial and the enormous work he accomplished, quickly exhausted the strength of Fr. Markiewicz,. undermining his health, which was already greatly compromised from his illness in Italy. All of this led rather rapidly to the end of his earthly pilgrimage which came on January 29, 1912.

Both before and after his death he was considered an extraordinary man. As the fame of the sanctity of Bronislao Markiewicz continued to constantly increase, the Superiors of both religious institutes of St Michael the Archangel, founded by him, asked the Bishop of Przemyśl to initiate the process of beatification of their founder, which began in 1958. Having completed the procedure for the Cause, on July 2, 1994 in the presence of his Holiness John Paul II, the decree of heroic virtue  was promulgated and ten years later on Dec 20th 2004 the decree of the Miracle performed by God through the intercession of  Fr. Bronislao was promulgated, thus opening the way for his beatification.