Darowska, Marcelina Kotowicz, Bl.

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In religion Maria Marcelina; widow, cofounder of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (Niepokalanki ); b. Jan. 16, 1827, Szulaki, Podolia, Ukraine; d. Jan. 5, 1911, Jazlowiec, Ukraine. Although Marcelina Kotowicz expressed a desire to enter religious life, her dying father made her promise that she would marry. She fulfilled her pledge in 1849 by marrying Karol Darowski and bore him two children before his death three years later. Her son died the next year. In 1854, Marcelina traveled to Rome, where she met Resurrectionist Father Hieronim Kajsiewicz, who became her spiritual director, and through him met Josephine Karska, with whom she founded (1857) the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After Josephine's death in 1860, Marcelina moved her four sisters to Jazlowiec (Archdiocese of Lviv [now Ukraine]), where the congregation opened its first school for girls (Nov. 1, 1863) without the approbation of the state. Dissatisfied with the quality of available textbooks, Mother Marcelina purchased a printing press in 1901 and began publishing books written by the sisters. When government authorities attempted to regulate the subjects taught, Marcelina threatened to close the schools and alter the 1867 constitutions to create a contemplative order. Despite these problems and other difficulties with governmental authorities, at the time of her death the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception had seven convents, each of which ran a school for girls. In 1882, Marcelina commissioned Tomasz Oskar Sosnowski to sculpt an image of the Immaculate Conception, which became famous as "Our Lady of Jazlowiec," an object of national veneration. More than 200 sisters continue Marcelina's work of forming Christian women in Poland, the Ukraine, and Belarus. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 6, 1996.

Feast: Jan. 6 (Lviv).

Bibliography: e. jablonskadeptula, Marcelina Darowska niepokalanka (Lublin 1996). m. a. soltan, Czlowiek wielkich pragnien: matka Marcelina Darowska (Szymanów 1978).

[k. i. rabenstein]