Decree of Heroism

Przemyśl case of the Latin rite
(in the world: Rose Philippine)

Decree of the Heroism of Virtues

“The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5).

The love of God budded abundantly in the heart of Mother Columba Białecka who from the very childhood did not seek herself, but rather the glory of Jesus Christ and the good of her neighbor. She came to love both in the highest degree with particular desire to sacrifice herself.

Servant of God was born on August 23, 1838 in the village of Jasnishchi in the area of the Archdiocese of Lviv of Latin rite. She was born to parents Francis Białecki and Ernestyna Radziejowska who belonged to the nobility and who passed faith to their children. Next day, at Baptism she received names Rose Philipina Philomena. In 1846 she received the Eucharistic food for the first time. At the age of twelve, she received the sacrament of Baptism and made a private vow to enter a convent. Her education continued with the Sisters of the Sacred Heart where she became a member of the sodality of Daughters of Mary and the fraternity of the Most Holy Rosary. Despite objections and unwillingness of her father, she decided to offer herself to God. In 1857, counseled by Fr. Vincent Jandel, O.P., the superior general, she entered the Congregation of Sisters of the Third Order Regular and Teaching of Saint Dominic in Nancy, France. Her goal though was to make a new foundation in Poland. Servant of God, who from 1859 was named Maria Columba, made her first profession and returned to Poland where in 1860 she accepted the invitation of Fr. Julian Leszczyński. He encouraged to locate the new religious foundation in Wielowieś, near Sandomir, in the Przemyśl diocese of the Latin rite. Having professed solemnly in Nancy, France on April 1, 1861, she returned to Poland to found the Congregation of the Third Order of Sisters of Saint Dominic which was connected with its French counterpart only through spiritual bonds. May 30th of the same year, Servant of God, along with two other companions began her founding mission in Wielowieś. Leader herself, together with her companions, she dedicated herself to the service of sick peasants in their own homes as well as those knocking to the convent door. Soon after, she started catechizing children, the youth, and adults as well as teaching the parish school. Thanks to obtained donations as well as volunteer work of many who quickly began to appreciate sisters’ work, a new convent was built. On August 8, 1861 she opened the novitiate. In 1868 she received the diocesan approval of the Congregation, and in 1885 the Laudatory Decree of the Holy See.

She prudently and zealously worked for the benefit of the Congregation which she founded for the purpose of evangelization and caring for the most in need in the lowest states of the society strengthening them and educating. She was diligent in overlooking formation of her sisters. She was concerned that they grow in faith, learn to endure inconveniencies, were eager in apostolic zeal, and full of ardor in spiritual life. Shortly before death, she admonished them to strive for disinterestedness and love while serving the poor. They were to get perfected in humility, love, obedience, prayer, and silence. She taught her spiritual daughters with words, but most importantly, with the testimony of her own holy life. What she used to teach, she was first to fulfill. Being a faithful student of Christ, she chose Evangelical way of growing diligently, continuously, and joyfully in Christian virtues.

Enlightened incessantly by the light of faith, hope, and charity, she treated the will of God and the good of others as her supreme value. Also, strengthened by trust in the Divine Providence, she endured hardships, jealousies, and adversities, and accepted them as a means of purification of her soul. Just and free towards God and people, she distained earthly honors: she was an example of obedience, purity, and poverty. She used to feed her unity with God and apostolate with prayer and fervent Eucharistic devotion which she also passed on to her Congregation. The Eucharist was for her the summit of spiritual life and her delight. She fruitfully participated in the Most Holy Sacrifice nurturing herself with the Word of God and the Body of Christ. She spent long hours before the Blessed Sacrament and adored Him late into night. Hers was also a particular devotion toward the Mother of God whom she treated as a model in following after Christ. She came to truly love the prayer of the rosary. On her deathbed, she admonished her sisters with following words: “Have tender and childlike devotion to the Blessed Mother. She is our most special Protectress. May this Congregation be characterized by double devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament and to our Lady.” From these pious practices, she drew trust, peace, and fortitude both in prosperity as well as in adversities, in health as well as in sickness that she endured. With God’s help, she arrived to her last days having fulfilled all duties entrusted to her. The Lord called her on March 18, 1887, on the vigil of the solemnity of Saint Joseph. In agreement with her request, she was buried in the convent garden, behind the chapel, near to the tabernacle.

The fame of holiness which accompanied Servant of God in her lifetime, lasted also after her death. Therefore the archbishop of Przemyśl of Latin rite conducted the diocesan process in 1988-1989. Its legal credibility was confirmed by our dicastery with the decree issued on February 14, 1992. After the positio was prepared, the question whether Servant of God achieved virtues of the heroic degree was examined and confirmed on September 28, 2004 by the Congress of Special Theological Consultants. Dignified Cardinals and Bishops, during the ordinary session on December 14th of the same year, after hearing the case by Archbishop Piotr Jerzy Nesti, C.P., a deserving archbishop of Camerino-San Severino Marche in the Province of Piceno, concluded that Servant of God achieved the heroic degree of theological virtues along with related to them cardinal virtues.

After below-signed Cardinal Prefect has prepared a detailed report for the Holy Father John Paul II, His Eminence, accepting and approving the important votas of the Congregation of Causes of Saints, ordered to prepare the Decree of Heroism of Virtues of the Servant of God.

Once it was accomplished in accordance with regulations of the law, the Holy Father called the signed-below Cardinal Prefect as well as Ponens of the case and me, the Secretary of the Congregation, together with others called customarily, and, in their presence, he solemnly declared that as far the case in question is concerned

Servant of God Maria Columba Białecka (Rose Philippine in the world), the Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic, practiced in the heroic degree theological virtues of faith, hope, and love of God and neighbor as well as related to them cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and courage.

At the order of the Holy Father, this Decree is published and filed in the acts of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints.

Issued in Rome on December 20, 2004
/seal of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints/
Eduardus Nowak
Archbishop titular of Lunensis