Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 68(3) August 2018
Great Medical Lives
Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska
Another Heroic Lay Nurse Beatified
Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska (1902-1973) was declared a Blessed of the Catholic Church on 28th April 2018 by the Holy See. On this earth she was a Polish community nurse, Benedictine oblate, champion of the chronically sick and poor.
Born in Warsaw, she worked in Kraków for most of her life. Her thoughts on the care of chronically ill patients living in their homes and in the community, and in particular her philosophy regarding the pastoral care and needs of this often neglected group of people, profoundly influenced the approach of Saint Pope John Paul II towards the sick and handicapped and were instrumental in his designating the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (11th February) as a Church-wide day of the prayer for the sick. In his memoirs the saintly Pope noted, that he learnt most about the needs of the sick from Venerable Servant of God Hanna Chrzanowska.
Hanna will be the first registered nurse to be declared a Blessed of the Church. She attended a state nursing school, sat nursing exams, wrote scholarly articles, was the long-time editor of the Polish Nursing Journal, was Principal of a school of nursing and was a major contributor to the pre-war nursing legislation in Poland. She was active in the Polish Nurses Association, attended professional conferences and was a nurse teacher for many years. In her early retirement (due to communist repressions) she set up and ran Parish Nursing in Kraków. It is this work that is considered her crowning Christian achievement.
The Church in acknowledging her heroic virtues and approving a miracle obtained through her intercession sees her as a truly Christian example of a holy nurse. Hanna’s unique nursing spirituality grew and deepened and brought fruit in measure as she grew into and took to heart her nursing vocation. Hanna’s path to holiness was her professional work, undertaken with a passion and a dedication, which was nourished and sustained by a profound and deep prayer-life. Today’s Catholic nurses and healthcare workers can relate to Hanna, a professional like them, who they can turn to for spiritual help.
For more information on Hanna Chrzanowska’s life there is an English biography available, Colours of Fire by Dr Gosia Brykczyriska, available through Amazon. Or go to https://hannachrzanowska.pl/en/