|Born||January 16, 1827
Szulaki, Poland (now in Ukraine)
|Died||January 5, 1911
Jazlowiec, Poland (now in Ukraine)
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||October 6, 1996, Rome by Pope John Paul II|
Blessed Marcelina Darowska (January 16, 1827 – January 5, 1911), was a Polish nun who was beatified by the then Pope John Paul II at Saint Peter's Square in Rome in the year 1996. She was inspired by the Virgin Mary to co-found the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an active religious order in Poland, Belarus and the Ukraine.
Childhood and marriage
Marcelina (or Marcellina) Kotowicz was born in Szulaki, a part of Poland that was controlled by the Russians at the time. Her parents, Jan and Maksymilia Kotowicz, were wealthy landowners. She attended a school in Odessa for three years, before working on her father's farm.
Some sources state that she was deeply religious, even from a young age. Before his death, her father made her promise that she would marry and start a family. And on 2 October 1849 she married Karol Darowski, a land owner from Podolia. He died of typhus three years later, leaving her with two children — Jozef and Karolina. A year after that, her son died. This series of tragedies influenced her religious thoughts; she claimed that she no longer belonged to any earthly being (in Italian: "creature" - di non appartenere più ad alcuna creatura) but rather to only God.
For health reasons she travelled to Berlin, then to Paris, and finally to Rome, arriving in the Italian town on 11 April 1853.
Life as a nun
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In Rome she met Father Hieronim Kajsiewicz, a Resurrectionist priest, who became her spiritual director. On 12 May 1854 she made her vows of chastity and obedience before him. Kajsiewicz introduced her to a nun, Józefa Karska, who became a close friend. Whilst in Poland, the two women decided to found a religious community dedicated to the education and support of women. This new organization, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was established in Rome in 1857.
When Karska died from typhus in 1860, Darowska became the Superior of the congregation. In 1863 she moved the community to Jazłowiec in the Archdiocese of Lviv. She opened a convent and a middle school for girls in the donated ruins of the local castle. This soon became an important spiritual and cultural centre.
In 1863 the congregation received the decretum laudis from the Pope. In 1874 the final approval was confirmed, and in 1889 the constitutions were accepted. In 1883 the congregation erected the Statue of the Immaculate Conception of the Godmother in the convent's chapel. This was blessed by archbishop Sigismund Felix Feliński, and in 1939 crowned by the Polish primate August Cardinal Hlond.
During her 50 years' activity as superior of the congregation, Darowska opened many pre-schools and schools in rural areas. She died on 5 January 1911 in Jazłowiec, aged 83. She left seven convents with 350 sisters.
Approach and meaning
In 1904, the Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote: "Praise for your wise work and honour to your merit and goodness". Darowska answered: "I do not look at the results (praise) of our work. Those results do not belong to us. If they exist, they belong to God, for the good of our beloved and divided country".
" ... to extend the kingdom of God in human souls and bring it into the world - this was the programme for her apostolic activity, born in the silence of a heart immersed in prayer. She wanted to do everything so that truth, love and goodness would triumph in human life and transform the face of her beloved nation. Together with her sisters, she generously laboured in the exhausting task of building the kingdom of Christ, paying particular attention to the religious training of the young generation, especially girls, to the growth of catechesis and to educational. She assigned a particular role in life to the Christian woman as wife, mother and citizen of her country. ... The new blessed is an example of an apostolic faith that creates new ways for the Church to be present in the world and forms a more just and human society which abides and bears fruit in Christ."— Pope John Paul II, from the proclamation of the beatification of Marcelina Darowska, October 6, 1996
- (in Italian) Antonio Borrelli, Beata Marcellina Darowska (Maria Marcellina dell’Immacolata Concezione) Fondatrice at Santiebeati.it
- Józefa Karska; religious name: Maria Józefa of the crucified Christ (born April 7, 1823, Olchowiec, Lublin, Poland — died October 11, 1860, Rome)