Jablonska, Bernardina, Bl.

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Known in religion as Maria Bernardina; virgin, cofoundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi, Servants of the Poor (Albertines); b. Aug. 5, 1878, Pizuny-Lukawica, Poland; d. Sept. 23, 1940, Krakow.

Bernardina, the fourth child of the landed farmers Gregory Jablonski and Maria Romanow, received her education from private tutors and from books borrowed from her pastor's library. When she was eight years old she met and was impressed by Saint Albert Chmielowski. She assuaged her sorrow at her mother's death in 1893 by turning increasingly to prayer. On Sept. 13, 1896, she left home to begin her postulancy in the new congregation being founded by Chmielowski despite her father's opposition and without the approval of her pastor. The following year she was among the first seven Albertine sisters to receive the habit. Her initial decade of religious life was spent doing household chores and tending the sick, as her faith grew. In 1907, Chmielowski named her superior, a position she maintained until her death. Together with Saint Albert, she founded hospices for those who were sick and homeless as a result of war. Bernardina is remembered not only for her charity, but also for the way in which she helped the suffering regain their human dignity.

Mother Maria Bernardina was declared venerable on Dec. 17, 1996. On March 8, 1997, a miracle attributed to her intercession was approved, leading to her beatification by John Paul II, June 6, 1997, at Wielka Krokiew Arena, Zakopane, Poland. Patron of the poor and handicapped.

Feast: Sept. 23.

Bibliography: L'Osservatore Romano, 25 (1997): 67.

[k. i. rabenstein]