Maria Franciszka Siedliska
|Born||12 November 1842
Roszkowa Wola, Rzeczyca, Congress Poland
|Died||November 21, 1902
Rome, Kingdom of Italy
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||23 April 1989, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II|
Blessed Maria Franciszka Siedliska (12 November 1842 – 21 November 1902) - in religious Maria of Jesus the Good Shepherd - was a Polish Roman Catholic professed religious and the founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Siedliska was indifferent to her faith in her childhood but a local priest awakened her and she began to pursue a call to the religious life that her parents opposed. But the death of her father in 1870 allowed for her to pursue this newfound call and in 1873 she decided to found a religious congregation that received the blessing of Pope Pius IX before it was established in Advent of 1875. Siedliska expanded her congregation outside of Rome to her native Poland as well as to places such as Paris and Chicago where she both visited during her extensive travels.
The beatification cause for the late nun opened in 1941 under Pope Pius XII and she became titled as a Servant of God while the confirmation of her life of heroic virtue allowed for her to be named as Venerable on 29 April 1980; Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1989.
The girl in her childhood received a private education from governesses and she remained indifferent to the faith - her parents were too - until she met the zealous Franciscan Capuchin priest Leander Lendzian who prepared her for the reception of her First Communion on 1 May 1855 at which point she decided to offer herself to God. She met the priest in Warsaw at an event her grandfather was hosting in November 1854. Siedliska desired to pursue a religious vocation around 1860 but her parents opposed the idea and so she had to wait for the right time; her father said he would rather see her dead than become a nun. The denial of this dream saw her around 1860 move with her parents to Switzerland before going to the German kingdom and to France. But her frail health saw her and her mother go to Murano and then to Cannes to seek out treatment before all returned to Poland in 1865.
The death of her father in 1870 now allowed her the freedom to pursue her dream and she became part of the Third Order of Saint Francis in 1870 in Lublin. On 12 April 1873 she received guidance from Father Lendzian who encouraged her to found an order and said that it was all God's will that she do so. Siedliska was granted a private audience with Pope Pius IX on 1 October 1873 her idea received his apostolic blessing; she founded her new congregation in Rome at the beginning of Advent in 1875.
Siedliska made her solemn profession as a nun on 1 May 1884 and assumed the religious name of "Maria of Jesus the Good Shepherd". The congregation spread at a rapid pace across Europe and in 1885 spread to the United States of America. Siedliska led eleven sisters to found a community in Des Plaines and moved to Pittsburgh a decade later in August 1895; she arrived in New York Harbor on 4 July 1885 and was in Chicago to open schools on 6 July 1885. It was there and back in Rome that she presided at religious exercises and held conferences as well as writing letters of encouragement to her more than 29 foundations. The foundress travelled to Paris in 1892 and to London in 1895. She returned to Rome after several extensive and exhaustive travels on 16 October 1902 and was never to leave again for her health began to fail.
Siedliska died in Rome on 21 November 1902 due to acute peritonitis she had suffered since 15 November; her remains were buried at Campo Verano on the following 24 November. Her remains were relocated on 9 July 1953 to the order's motherhouse at Via Machiavelli 18 and on 29 September 1966 again relocated to the new generalate of the order at Via Nazareth 400. Her order now possesses more than 1500 religious in nations outside her native homeland that has now spread to nations such as Israel and Australia. Her order received the papal decree of praise from Pope Leo XIII on 1 September 1896 and then definitive papal approval from Pope Pius XI on 4 June 1923. In 2005 there were 152 houses with 1490 religious but in 2015 the number dwindled to 1300.
The beatification process opened in Rome in an informative process that Cardinal Basilio Pompilj inaugurated on 4 April 1922 and later closed in January 1928; testimonies were collected from Paris and London as well as from Chicago due to her extensive missions to those places. Her writings received the approval of the theologians on 27 November 1937 who determined that her spiritual writings did not contravene official doctrine. The formal introduction to the cause came under Pope Pius XII on 5 February 1941 and she became titled as a Servant of God as a result. Cardinal Francesco Marchetti Selvaggiani oversaw the apostolic process from 6 June 1941 to 6 March 1946 with additional testimonies coming again from the places she had visited during her life. The Congregation for Rites validated these previous processes on 2 March 1952 and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and their consultants met and approved the cause on 21 June 1979; the C.C.S. alone approved it later on 22 February 1980. Pope John Paul II confirmed her life of heroic virtue and named her as Venerable on 29 April 1980.
The miracle needed for her to be beatified was investigated in Warsaw in a diocesan process that Cardinal Józef Glemp oversaw from 21 February to 9 June 1986; the C.C.S. validated this process in Rome on 21 November 1986 before a medical board approved it on 18 November 1987. Theologians also assented to this on 15 April 1988 as did the C.C.S. on 5 July 1988 before John Paul II gave the final approval needed for it on 1 September 1988. John Paul II beatified Siedliska on 23 April 1989.
Thus I envisioned our life in Nazareth as a life of love externally given to work, service, performance of whatever Our Lord may require...— Bl. Franciszka Siedliska.
- "Blessed Maria Franciszka Siedliska". Saints SQPN. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Franciszka Siedliska". Find a Grave. 19 October 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Honor our Foundress on her feast day". Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. 21 November 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Blessed Franciszka Siedliska". Santi e Beati. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Recognition Of A Life Well Lived". Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Retrieved 10 December 2016.