Bojanowski, Edmund Wojciech Stanislas, Bl.

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Layman and founder of the Sister Servants of the Mary Immaculate (SSMI); b. Grabonóg (near Poznán), northwestern Poland, Nov. 14, 1814; d. Gorka Duchowna, Poland, Aug. 7, 1871. Born into a landed family of nobility, Bojanowski studied literature at the universities of Breslau (Wrocław) and Berlin. Although he contracted tuberculosis in his 20s, he walked more than a mile daily to attend Mass, and personally responded to the misery he encountered by teaching literacy and opening reading rooms for the poor, particularly in rural areas. During the cholera epidemic of 1849, he not only founded an orphanage and hospital, but himself tended to the victims of the disease, both in these institutions and in their country homes. Bojanowski also founded a day-care nursery in Gostyn. In 1850, three young girls and a widow committed themselves to running the nursery. In 1855 they became the nucleus of the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate (originally called the Little Servants of the Mother of God), which now has branches in Europe, Africa, and America working in a variety of apostolates, including daycare centers for children. Bojanowski also organized a passive resistance to Prussian repression. He entered the seminary in 1869, but was forced to leave because of ill health and died two years later.

Bojanowski was declared venerable July 3, 1998; a miracle attributed to his intercession was approved Dec. 21, 1998 leading to his beatification in Warsaw, Poland, by John Paul II on June 13, 1999. During the beatification homily, Pope John Paul II said that Bojanowski "anticipated much of what the Second Vatican Council said about the apostolate of the laity."

Feast: Aug. 7.

Bibliography: m. winowska, Edmond Bojanowski: précurseur de Vatican II (Paris 1979).

[k. i. rabenstein]