Joseph Kalinowski was born in the year 1835 in the town of Vilna Poland. He was fortunate in that his parents were well educated, and his father Andrew Kalinowski, was a professor of mathematics. Coming from such a background, it was no surprise that Joseph excelled at his studies and won prizes for his gift of learning.
Even though the young Joseph received a head start in life in that his parents were well educated and prosperous, he also had the great fortune that both his parents were devout Catholics and raised their son with a deep love for the Church and for prayer. Still the political situation of his country was unsettling and would not leave the Kalinowski family unscathed.
In order to further his education and his prospects, Joseph chose to attend the Academy of Military Engineering in Russia, mainly because many Polish universities had been closed due to the Russian invasion of his homeland. It was not a happy situation and many of his fellow Poles were becoming disaffected with the Russian regime, so while this hot bed of insurrection grew, Joseph concentrated on his studies.
Joseph graduated in 1857 and as a lieutenant in the Russian Engineering Corp he worked on designing a railway line between Kursk and Odessa. Though this meant separation from his family which made Joseph homesick, still he concentrated on the task at hand, despite the vastness of the landscape. It was during these almost solitary months that Joseph grew to love this aloneness where he could commune with God as best he could under the circumstances. Joseph grew to love this solitude of heart and mind which perhaps laid the foundation for his future life. This sojourn though was to be interrupted when Joseph was recalled by the Russian authorities and transferred to the fortress at Litovsk, where he received a promotion to Captain. Though he was pleased with this promotion Joseph was not so pleased to see how Russia was oppressing his own people and the Catholic Church. It was here that he decided to run a Catholic Sunday school in order to teach the fundamentals of the Faith to the youth, at times Joseph even bought the materials needed out of his own wages.
The Polish people though were a tough and uncompromising nation and they soon became disillusioned with the force of the Russian government dictating how they should live and what they could believe, and an uprising quickly developed. Though Joseph knew that they were outnumbered and out armed, his love for his native country came first, and he joined the uprising where he was named as minister for war in the area of Vilna. He took this post on the understanding that he would not accept nor condone the death penalty on anyone. Though Joseph loved his country he loved God first!
In all despotic leaderships they usually persecute the intellectuals first, so was the case with the young Joseph Kalinowski where upon their defeat, the Russians had taken particular notice of this young mans adeptness and his love for his Faith. So it was that in 1864 the Russians arrested Joseph and sentenced him to death which they later commuted to a ten year sentence of hard labor.
For his own people and the peoples of Russia, Siberia was a place of dread where only the toughest made it through its harsh landscape and unforgiving and bitter cold. It was here where Joseph with countless others were sent as they walked their way to Siberia which took 9 months of torture as many succumbed on the way. It was also here that Joseph's strength of character came forth as many looked to him to uplift them in their own agonies. Joseph's profound love of God and the instructions he had received as a child from his loving parents shone forth as he became a beacon of light in a horrific situation. During this time he befriended the Priest who he helped by teaching the children of his fellow prisoners Catechism as they were prepared to receive their first Communion. Through this experience Joseph became more aware of where God was calling him and his heart opened to the thought of the Priesthood, as he continued to assist his fellow prisoners.
Upon his release in 1873 and returning to his native country Joseph found to his sadness that many Religious Orders had been disbanded on orders of the Russian government. This did not deter Joseph and he set off for France where he could study to become a Priest. It was in France that he became a Tutor to prominent and distinguished families and where he taught the young Prince Augusto Czartoryski who went on to join the Salesian Order of St. John Bosco.
Though Joseph loved to teach the Faith to young hearts, still he longed to become a Priest himself and this was to be answered when he joined the Carmelite Order in Austria and chose the religious name Brother Raphael, he was Ordained into the Priesthood in the year 1882, his joy was complete.
Father Raphael returned to his native country to try and help his oppressed people and to bring alive the spirit of Carmel, he also had a deep love for the Sacrament of Penance and encouraged all peoples to empty their hearts of sin and open them to the Light of Christ. It was through the example of Father Raphael that many embraced the ideal of Carmel and so the seeds were planted to be reaped at a later date as the Order of Carmel gained prominence.
Due to the many hours he spent in the Sacrament of Penance, Father Raphael earned the title that the people gave him as "martyr of the confessional." This most holy Priest did not mind the time he spent in freeing souls of the darkness of sin as they embraced and were renewed with the Light of Christ through the Sacraments of the Church.
Through imprisonment and torture this great man never once wavered in his Faith and through his efforts the Order of Carmel would flourish once again in Poland.
Father Raphael Kalinowski died in the year 1907.
Saint Raphael Kalinowski was canonized in 1991 by Pope John Paul II.
Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.