Feast Day: June 17
Canonized: November 12, 1989
Beatified: June 22, 1983
Venerated: January 20, 1977
As a young revolutionary and artist in Poland, Adam Chmielowski was not a young man whom people thought would someday be a saint.
He was born in 1845 to wealthy parents and studied agriculture with plans of taking over his family’s estate near Krakow. In 1863 he took part in an uprising against Czar Alexander IIII and the Russian army and lost a leg in the fighting when he was just 17. Because of his actions against Russia, he had to leave Poland. Young Adam went to Belgium, where he discovered he had some artistic ability. He also studied painting in Paris and Germany.
Chmielowski returned to Poland when he was nearly 30 and soon became concerned with the suffering of the many homeless and impoverished Poles. He worked in homeless shelters and eventually realized that it was this work, rather than politics or art, that called to him.
In 1887 he joined religious life as Brother Albert of the Third Order of St. Francis. He lived in the homeless shelters with those he served. Within a year, Brother Albert had founded his own branch of the Franciscans, the Servants of the Poor, who are sometimes called the Albertine Brothers. A few years later he helped found a women’s congregation with the same intent of helping Poland’s poor.
Brother Albert believed that the biggest problem of the world was that people did not open their eyes to the suffering of others and offer help. He believed that the divisions in society among the rich and the poor enabled that “blindness.”
He died on December 25, 1916, in a shelter he had opened in Krakow. Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized him a saint of the church in 1989.
As a young priest in Krakow, Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote a play about Brother Albert, God’s Brother. He said he drew spiritual inspiration from Brother Albert’s act of leaving behind an artistic career to give his life to God and others.
RCL Benziger’s Family Life