Saint Albert Chmielowski
Born: 20th August 1845, Igoalomia, Poland
Died: 25th December 1916, Krakow, Poland
Feast Day: 17th June or 25th December
Shrine: Painters, Servants of the Poor Sisters, Servants of the Poor, Franciscan tertiaries, Soldiers, Volunteers, Harvests, Travellers, Puławy Diocese of Sosnowiec
Also known as: Adam Chmielowski, Adam Hilary Bernard Chmielowski, Brat Albert, Brother Albert, Brother of Our Lord, Brother of Our God, Our God’s Brother
Venerated: 20th January 1977 by Pope Paul VI
Beatified: 22nd June 1983 by Pope John Paul II at Krakow, Poland
Canonised: 12th November 1989 by Pope John Paul II at Krakow, Poland
Saint Albert was born on 25th August 1845 near Krakow, Poland to an aristocratic family, as Adam Hilary Bernard Chmielowski. He was the eldest of four children. He was actively involved in politics from a young age and lost a leg in a fight during an insurrection against Czar Alexander III at the age of 17. He was a talented artist which he studied in Munich and Paris after leaving Poland.
His interest in politics and art made him aware of the human misery and suffering around him. He was a compassionate and deeply caring person and felt called to help those in need. In time, he understood the desire to be a calling from God to serve. In 1884 he returned to Krakow and became a secular Franciscan taking the name Albert, he began working with and for the poorest people in Krakow.
In 1887, he founded the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Servants of the Poor, who were known as the Albertines or the Gray Brothers. In 1891 he founded the women’s order of the Gray Sisters. The Albertines organised food and shelter for the poor and homeless.
Albert preached on the great crisis of seeing suffering of others around us and doing nothing about it, blaming the divide between the rich and poor for the “blindness”. Albert was one of the Saints who inspired the vocation of Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, who in 1949 wrote a play about Albert; the work was filmed in 1997 as Brother of our God. Albert was the spiritual teacher of Blessed Maria Bernardina Jablonska.
He died of natural causes on 25th December 1916.