Ukrainian saint cared for the poor St. Zygmunt Gorazdowski had a good reason not to get involved when cholera ravaged Wojnilow, Ukraine. However, rather than use his
Ukrainian saint cared for the poor
St. Zygmunt Gorazdowski had a good reason not to get involved when cholera ravaged Wojnilow, Ukraine. However, rather than use his respiratory problems as an excuse, this turn of the last century priest helped the sick and dying, even laying out bodies of the dead.
When: Nov. 1, 1845-Jan. 1, 1920
Feast: Jan. 1
Concern for the sick, poor and homeless were hallmarks in the life of St. Zygmunt, who worked in Galicia, a region of east-central Europe now divided between Poland and Ukraine.
He was born in Sanok, then in Ukraine, but now in Poland. He nearly died when peasants rebelled against serfdom in 1846. That uprising caused his respiratory problems.
When he was 18, Zygmunt joined Poland’s January Uprising against the Russian occupation. After high school, he studied law for two years in Lviv, Ukraine, before discerning a vocation to priesthood. In 1866, he entered the Latin Catholic Seminary at Lviv, but had to take a break in his training when his respiratory problems returned. Eventually his health improved and he was ordained in July 1871.
Zygmunt spent the next six years in parishes at Tartakow, Wojnilow, Bukaczowce, Grod Jagelonski and Zydaczow before turning to charitable work as senior priest at St. Nicholas Parish in Lviv, dedicating himself “to do everything for everybody to redeem if only a single soul.”
He opened the Affordable Public House and The House for Workers shelters, as well as a soup kitchen, called the Cheap Eating House. He found jobs for beggars and arranged for the poor to be treated at hospitals.
Zygmunt also built a dormitory for poor students at a teacher’s college and started the House of the Child Jesus for abandoned children as well as single mothers and their children.
In 1884, he founded the Sisters of Mercy of St. Joseph to work in boarding schools and care for the elderly and the sick. Today, the sisters serve in Poland, Brazil, Congo, Cameroon, France, Germany and Italy. He also founded a health care center for the terminally ill and those recovering from illnesses, an institute for poor seminarians, St. Joseph’s Polish-German Catholic School, and the Bonus Pastor Association for priests.
Zygmunt also wrote catechisms, handbooks for youth, books for parents and teachers, and a daily newspaper for poor readers.
Every day at 3 p.m., he meditated on Christ’s agony on the Cross and was often engrossed in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He also had special devotions to Mary and to St. Joseph.
Sources: Catholic News Service; http://saints.sqpn.com; www.jozefitki.pl/english; www.vatican.va.