Yasnishchi, the village where everything started, is sited on the fertile soils of Podolia, and located some 20 miles (32 km) from a county city of Brody, and roughly 6 miles (10 km) from the mail office in Pidkamin, Ukraine. Its gentle, almost Mediterranean climate allowed for abundant crops while its landscape ravished passersby. Yasnishchi prided itself of having a small community-organized school. The village had no church though. The Roman-Catholic faithful belonged to the distant Pidkamin parish run by the Dominicans.

It was here that on August 23, 1838, the sixth child of Francis Bialecki and Anna Ernestine Radziejowska Bialecki was born. Baptized the following day in the parish church of Pidkamin, the girl was given names Rose Philippine Philomena. Father Piotr Korotkiewicz, the Provincial of the Dominicans, administered the sacrament while Stanislaw Morawski and Zuzanna Kamienska became her godparents.

The birth of Rose gladdened Mr. and Mrs. Bialecki who had been already tried by death of four of their children. The surviving daughters were Maria, Rose, and, later, Wladyslawa. Among the three of them Rose stood out as most gentle, kind, and docile. She loved her parents and Maria very much, yet it was 2-year-younger Wladzia (Wladyslawa) with whom she got along best. Rose was known for her compassion towards the poor and the suffering. Her heart was open to all, always filled with love, and mercy. As for their servants, she made every effort to ease their toil and to excuse their shortcomings. She would never allow any unjust accusations, a lesson learned by example from her religious and patriotic parents.

Throughout the 19th century Poland ceased to officially exist on the map of Europe due to the partition by the three empires of Russia, Prussia, and Austro-Hungary. In order to integrated Poles to their respective national communities, the assailants exerted much oppression towards Polish tradition, language, culture, and religion. Growing progressively stronger, it fluctuated between negligence, hostility, or even open prohibition. The house of Bialecki never succumbed to the tyrannical ideology. To the contrary, they intentionally fostered the spirit of patriotism. For many years Rose observed her parents’ sorrow after the collapse of the November Uprising of 1830 and following it repressions on the Polish people. She also naturally witnessed frequent debates on how to regain national independence, debates her parents welcome along with various clerical and civil guests of the Yasnishchi manor. The Bialeckis understood clearly that the betterment of peasants was the best way to hasten the future liberation of Poland. This is why, against the rebuff of the Austrian government, yet foreseeing future freedom, they dissolved corvée in their estate.

It was very early on when Rose learned the art of prayer and when she consciously started to value the privilege of the alone time before the Blessed Sacrament. Not surprisingly that when she reached the age of 8, visiting priests as well as her parents found her mature enough to be admitted to the First Communion, an exception to the canonical norms of the time which required of children 11-14 years of age. At first, Fr. Kiejnowski was entrusted with Rose’s immediate preparation. However, Rose unexpectedly fell seriously ill with the diagnosis of an early stage of a lung disease, the ultimate cause of her premature death. Faced with such circumstances, Rose was allowed to receive her First Communion at home, in Yasnishchi, on December 8, 1846. She confessed her sins a day earlier and received the Eucharistic Jesus not in the chapel, but in her bedroom kneeling by the bed, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. Since that point on a new phase of her spiritual life began.

In 1850, when Rose turned 12, she received the sacrament of confirmation in the church of Pidkamin allowing the Holy Spirit to step into her soul in a new way. That day Rose made her private vow before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Pidkamin. She decided to become a total sacrifice to God while serving in an order. God slowly, yet surely, drew her to full exclusivity. We know that Rose daily spent several hours in prayer. Not feeling eloquent enough, she used to entrust secrets of her soul to Fr. Kiejnowski, her then confessor. He, in turn, suggested explicitly to her parents that God had special plans for their child. Only in time would they know details.

In line with customs of the epoch and practice at nobility manors, Rose and her sisters received introductory education at home. For further studies however the Bialeckis had to send their children to a boarding school in Lviv. Rose and Wladyslawa enrolled with the Sacré Coeur Sisters on May 27, 1852. Education in the all-girls school extensively enriched Rose’s intellectual life as well as her life of faith. When free of school obligations, Rose was often found kneeling in the convent chapel. On December 8, 1853, to highlight her heartfelt love for the Immaculate, Rose entered the school section of Marian Sodality. Another blessing of the time was spiritual friendship she developed with Ms. Tychowska who later became Sister Innocenta in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. They built their life-time spiritual bond on purest desire for God. When already in their respective convents, they always supported each other on the way to holiness. Sources do not indicate the exact date when Rose left the boarding school of the Sacré Coeur Sisters. Arguably, it was in the spring of 1954: she was then 16.

Upon returning home, Rose’s desire for a life in the convent did not faint away. To the contrary, it grew even stronger than before. Providentially, this time Rose gained a new and anointed spiritual guide in the person of Fr. Donat Piątkowski, OP who became her confessor. His zeal and asceticism caught attention of the General of the Order of Preachers, Fr. Alexandre Vincent Jandel, OP as he hoped that Piątkowski would spearhead the renewal of the Dominicans in Galicia. After long discernment, Rose eventually decided to inform her parents about her desires related to religious life. Francis Bialecki sharply dismissed even a slightest idea of his daughter entering a convent. Heartbroken inside, Rose accepted his father’s will serenely and did not insist on her own. The only defense she had was a spiritual one, namely, to entrust her vocation even more ardently to the Divine Providence and into the hands of Our Lady.

During this time Rose was tried with yet another serious outbreak of pneumonia. The doctors agreed that she had no more than three months of life. Unresponsive to treatment, she was assessed to suffer from an inner turmoil and, if she was to ward off pneumonia, a resolve to these conflicts was essential. Fr. Czyżewski openly advised Mr. Bialecki to fulfill his daughter’s desire and to grant her permission to enter a convent. If she was to die, he said, it would be with the conviction that her father loved her enough to allow her to fulfill God’s will. Mr. Bialecki consented and Rose immediately started to recover. Soon after though, her father got deathly ill and died unexpectedly on February 17, 1855.

The chain of painful events related to vocational discernment only strengthened Rose’s resolve. From early on she felt called to a strict enclosure. Combining that with filial affection for the Dominican Order, she was naturally oriented toward the Contemplative Dominicans of the First Order on Gródek in Cracow. Nonetheless, God in His providential designs showed a different path. In summer of 1855, the General of the Order of Preachers, Fr. Vincent Jandel arrived to Galicia for the purpose of canonical visitation of main Dominican convents on historically Polish territory. Fr. Piątkowski thought it very important that young Bialecki met the Master of the Order.

On July 2, 1856, the day of Visitation of our Lady, a momentous encounter took place in the sacristy of the Dominican church in Pidkamin. Rose blindly believed that the decision of the Master would be the decision of God Himself. Fr. Jandel advised against entering the Gródek Dominicans primarily due to the decline of religious observance. Despite the fact that their meeting was a very brief one, Fr. Jandel observed in Rose qualities which suited her to become a foundress of religious congregation. In one of his letters he later recalled that she had a heart greatly sensitive to God’s matters, bright and forward mind as well as leadership skills. The general foresaw her becoming a member of a new Dominican foundation in Nancy, France. This Lorraine convent of strict observance was to form Rose Bialecka in religion and empower her to organize a somewhat similar community in Galicia. Rose treated Fr. Jandel’s counsel as the expression of God’s design for her life. Therefore she left Pidkamin ready to execute his vision. It was her first fully mature fiat uttered out of total love for God.

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