Roszkowa Wala (Warsaw), 12 November 1842 – Rome, Nov 21,1902
Roman Martyrology: In Rome, Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd (Frances) de Siedliska, virgin, who left Poland for political reasons, founded the Institute of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth to provide the emigrants from his homeland.
To read the biography of the Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd, Francesca Siedliska the century, one is amazed to cope with the high number of kilometers traveled in numerous trips throughout Europe and the USA, to which she was committed most of her religious life and using public transport, which was certainly not fast and comfortable in thelate nineteenth century.
Francesca Siedliska, was born in the castle of Roszkowa Wala at Warsaw in Poland on November 12, 1842, firstborn of the spouses and Cecilia Adolfo Siedliska of Morawski, descendants from ancient Polish nobility, the area in Poland where she lived, was then under the protection of the Tsar of Russia and twenty years later in 1863, was built into the empire of the Tsar.
Grew with the affection of the parents, however, they were worried over her health and her flourishing cultural formation, and had to give her a religious education. In an environment steeped in religious indifference, the philosophy of the time, Frances began to know God through un’istitutrice very good and cultured, who also taught her to pray, but the sudden death of this istitutrice, deprived her of spiritual support. Subsequently, a maternal relative prepared her for confession first, then her mother became seriously ill and Francesca was anguished and implored the strength of the Madonna on her healing, which occurred shortly afterwards.
At this time, when Francesca went to Warsaw with her mother to stay with her grandfather, Iin November 1854, she met the Capuchin Leandro Lendzian father of Lithuanian origin and between the two was an instant spiritual understanding, that she considered the “moment of my conversion, and I went by his father as a pagan, empty of God and His love, back-lit in love. ”
Then with the stages of the First Communion made on 1 May 1855, the last Lent of 1860 she lived with a profound spirit of asceticism, and had a dramatic confrontation with her father who wanted her to marry and be put into high society, Francesca Siedliska was increasingly conscious of religious vocation as it increased in her.
In 1860, following her parents who had to travel to Switzerland, Tyrolia, Germany and France, but perhaps also for health strapazzo the holiday began to decline with concern, so there was reason to fear tuberculosis.
In autumn 1860 the mother accompanied her for care in Murano, then in Switzerland and then to Cannes in France, where in 1868 the father joined them to escape the Polish insurrection, the family meeting with the resurrectionist Hube, led to the conversion of her father Adolfo.
There followed a period of peace for the family, which continued even after returning to Poland in 1865 and until the death of her father in 1870.
With the guidance of spiritual father Leandro Lendzian, Francesca cultivated her desire to consecrate themselves entirely to God, but hampered by poor health. On 12 April 1873, she was 31 and father Leandro said clearly that it was the will of God, that she would found a new religious family.
Although surprised the request, she did not oppose or resist it and began the work suggested, and was joined in a first time mother, has long suffered from spirituality of her daughter and two older tertiary Franciscan belonged to an extinct community of Lublin. The order, which was to emulate the life of the Virgin Mary in Nazareth, catechetical education of children, could not be opened in Poland because of the Russian Government, and then the house-mother, Francesca Siedliska left for Rome to submit the program of the new congregation to Pope Pius IX.
On 1 October 1873, she was received by the Pope who approved the idea of the foundation of “Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth,” now back in Poland, choosing a place to settle, she went to Lourdes in France, but then decided to base her Nazareth in Rome and returned there in 1874, and had as advisor of the General Resurrection father Semenko who bought a small house in Merulana where he settled, after the house-mother was finally fixed in Macchiavelli.
The ascetic ideal of the foundation matured in Loreto in 1875, to imitate the hidden life and all the virtues of the Holy Family of Nazareth. The period from 1873 to 1876 was called “Spring of the Congregation,” on the first Sunday of Advent 1875, came the founding of the new institute, with its first novices arriving from Poland, the three sisters Wanda, Laura and Felicity Lubowidzki.
In 1881 she founded a new home in Krakow in Poland; on 1 May 1884 the founder and her first companions professed their religious vows and Francesca took the name Sister Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
Wanting to extend the aims of the congregation also to the Polish immigrant families in the United States in 1885, 1889 and 1896, she went and opened three houses in Chicago and spreading the sisters everywhere, in 1892 she was in Paris, where she opened a house; in 1895 she did the same in London.
Meanwhile, she prepared the constitutions, in which the congregation stated that its main aim was to bring souls to the truth and to know and love the Church of Jesus through these works: the religious education of Israelite, Protestant and schismatic catechumans, retreats for the ladies, teaching Christian doctrine and the history of the Church to young people and preparing children for First Communion.
The adjusted and expanded Constitution, wase finally approved by the Holy See in 1923, more than 20 years after the death of the foundress.
Mother Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd, continued her work towards the loving sisters, especially those who cured the sick and served personally, to comfort, encourage and advise the sisters, taking other trips to England, France and Poland.
Her strong fiber began to give way to the hard work, travel, the concerns and many diseases, she agreed with the council of doctors and went to spend a period of rest at the Benedictine House of Subiaco, returning to Rome on October 16, 1902 . On November 15 she was hit by acute peritonitis on November 21, 1902 and died a saintly death at age 60.
Her tomb is located in the Chapel of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Rome.
Sister Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd Siedliska was beatified in Rome on April 23, 1989 by Pope John Paul II, and her liturgical celebration is Nov. 21.
Author: Antonio Borrelli
Source: Santi e Beati