Józef Bilczewski

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Saint Józef Bilczewski
Józef Bilczewski.png
Archbishop of Lviv
Born 1860
Wilamowice, Bielsko County
Died 1923
Lviv
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 2001, Wilamowice by Pope John Paul II
Canonized October 23, 2005, Rome by Benedict XVI
Feast March 20

St. Jozef Bilczewski (ukr. Йосип Більчевський, Yosyp Bilchevsky)(1860–1923) was a Catholic archbishop of the city of Lviv, Ukraine, a professor of theology at the Lviv University and a rector of that school. Since 2005 he has been venerated by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint.

Biography[edit]

Statue of Bilczewski in the Latin Cathedral, Lviv

Jozef Bilczewski was born in Wilamowice, Bielsko County, part of the Austrian province of Galicia. In 1880 he graduated from a local gymnasium in Wadowice and joined the theological seminary in nearby Kraków. After receiving his Ph.D. from the Theological Faculty of the Jagiellonian University, on July 6, 1884, he became a priest and was ordained by Albin Cardinal Dunajewski, the archbishop of Kraków. In less than two years Bilczewski received his doctorate in theology and started his studies on dogmatics and Christian archaeology in Rome and Vienna and then in Paris. In 1890 he passed his habilitation at the Jagiellonian University and the following year he became a professor of dogmatics at the Lviv University (Lemberg in German). His university career progressed at a very fast pace as in 1893 he became a common professor and in 1896 he became Dean of the Theological Faculty. In 1900 he was elected the rector of that university, but gave up the post later that year as he was ordained the archbishop of Lviv with the approval of Emperor Francis-Joseph.

A supporter of organic work, Bilczewski started an extensive work on construction of new churches in the area. He initiated the construction of more than 330 churches in the archdiocese of Lviv alone, including the monumental Saint Elizabeth Church in Lviv. He also organized courses for the priests wanting to be prepared for social work among the poor and financed several Catholic societies. His support for the students, as well as People's Schools, gained him much popularity in his diocese, not only among the Catholics, but also among other denominations. During World War I he was one of the people to create committees of relief for the workers of Galicia severely touched by the war and shortages of food. During the Polish-Ukrainian War of 1918 and the Siege of Lviv, he was responsible for the organization of food convoys for the besieged city. His help for the poor and the homeless was awarded by the homeless themselves with the title of honorary patron of louts in 1917. He died March 20, 1923, in Lviv and was buried at the Yaniv Cemetery.

In 2001 he was beatified by Pope John Paul II during his trip to Bilczewski's hometown, after World War II called L'viv. On October 23, 2005, he was canonized by Benedict XVI in Rome.

Bilczewski was an honorary member of K.D.St. V. Frankonia Czernowitz Erlangen, a Catholic student fraternity that belongs to the Cartellverband der katholischen deutschen Studentenverbindungen.

Preceded by
Seweryn Morawski
Archbishop of Lwów
1900–1923
Succeeded by
Bolesław Twardowski

External links[edit]