Our Saints and Doctors

St. Raphael Kalinowski of St. Joseph (1835-1907)

St. Raphael Kalinowski of St. Joseph (1835-1907)

Saint Raphael of St. Joseph (Joseph Kalinowski), a Polish Discalced Carmelite Priest, was canonized on November 17, 1991, by Pope Saint John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica. We celebrate his feast on November 19th.

He worked extensively to build unity, peace and the Discalced Carmelite Order. His father was a professor of mathematics at the Institute of Nobles in Vilna and following his father’s footsteps, Joseph enrolled in the Military School of Engineering in 1853. He graduated with the rank of Lieutenant Engineer and was also named Assistant of Mathematics at the Academy itself. Joseph’s faith began to grow intensely by caring for the poor, especially the young, by opening a Sunday school for poor youths. He longed for a greater union between the Eastern Church and the Roman Church.

The Polish insurrection against Russia began in 1863, and Joseph at first resigned in protest of the insurrection, believing Poland was not strong enough to conquer Russia. He planned to stay out of politics, but was asked by the National Council directing the insurrection against Russia to serve. He became Minister of War against Russia for the region of Vilna. Eventually, he was arrested and locked up in prison, where he lived a life as a religious, each day he awoke up at 5 a.m. for prayer and meditation. On June 2, 1864 he was condemned to death but the sentence was commuted to exile so that he would not look like a martyr. He was exiled and sentenced to life in prison in Siberia; a term later reduced to 10 years. He wrote to his family from Siberia: “God entirely devoted Himself to us. How can we not devote ourselves entirely to Him?”

After his nine and a half years in prison, he went to Warsaw, Poland, near his brother Gabriel, and from the window he could see the Discalced Carmelite Friars monastery. He read the works of Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross and decided to become a Discalced Carmelite. He made his solemn profession on November 27th and took the name Raphael of Saint Joseph. He assisted in the growth of the Discalced Carmelite Order in Poland and had the Story of a Soul translated into Polish.
 His major achievement was the establishment of a vocational seminary for young men. He worked with the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (Carmelite lay men and women) in re-establishing them in Poland. His greatest love was the sacramental life that is the Mass and Communion. Observers say that he said Mass with such reverence that people could experience the emotion. He said in regarding his love for the Eucharist:

Our Redeemer ever present in the most Blessed Sacrament extends His hands to everyone. He opens His heart and says, “Come to Me, all of you.”

In proclaiming Father Raphael a saint, the Church shows him as a model of a man who in various circumstances of his life—as engineer, teacher, rebel, in exile, religious and priest managed to realize completely his vocation of a disciple of Jesus. He served his brothers and shared with them the Eucharist, the treasure of the faith, and was a man deeply concerned with the integrity of the Church.

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