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- Blessed Bronislava
b.1203 d.1259 Feastday: August 30
Blessed Bronislava, the cousin of Saint Hyacinth and Blessed Chester, was born in Kamien in Silesia, about the year 1203. From early childhood she loved piety and innocence and was not interested in the joys of a powerful and rich world. She would visit the village huts, bringing aid to the needy and medicine to the sick. When she was 16 years old, she entered the convent of the Norbertine Sisters at Zwierzvniec, just outside Krakow, a convent built by her great-grandfather, Jaska of Miechowo. She lived a strict life of penance, developing a deep devotion to the passion of Christ.
The Norbertine rule was rigorous. They lived in cells in which there were no floors or stoves so they suffered intensely from cold and frost. They followed a vow of extreme poverty and had no contact with the outside world. Visits of their nearest relatives were very rare and then through a grill and in the presence of other Sisters. They lived lives of strict silence and prayer. Free time outside spiritual exercises was dedicated to sewing, embroidering church vestments and in the work of housekeeping and gardening.
Bronislava surpassed all the other Sisters in holiness. She loved the fasts, sacrifices, night vigils, and prayer. She wanted to be the least among the Sisters and often knelt before them, begging alms in the form of prayer for herself. Bronislava remained long hours in contemplation on the life and passion of Christ, as well as on the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom she had a special devotion. During times of deep contemplation she often experienced the grace of ecstasy. She learned to pray the rosary from Saint Hyacinth and brought that devotion to the Sisters of her Convent.
After 15 years of solitary, austere religions life, she accepted the burden of becoming a Superior. She carried that burden during times of unrest and civil wars, often in exile away from the convent. The most painful sacrifice for her was the loss of her solitude. She had to leave the convent with the Sisters during the first invasion of Poland by the Tartars in 1241. She set out with cross in hand, through rocky ravines, to caves, which since that time have been called, "Maiden Rocks." After the Tartars were driven back the Norbertine Sisters returned to their convent, only to find it in ruins. As they rebuilt it, they had to take care of hungry inhabitants and many orphans. Over the centuries the people of Krakow have remembered the goodness and compassion of Bronislava.
When a new church and convent for the Norbertine Sisters brought all the scattered Sisters together again, Bronislava offered her prayers and sacrifices. In 1259, a second invasion by the Tartars again exiled the nuns and people to the "Maiden Rocks." It was during this time that she died, on 29 August 1259.
Soon people began pilgrimages to her grave. When the invasion was ended. Bronislava's body was brought to the convent Church and buried in a crypt within its walls. Bronislava named among the Blessed of the Church. the last step before Sainthood. Pope Gregory XVI designated the 30th of August as her feast day for the Diocese of Krakow. She is considered patroness of a happy death and of the prevention of disease.
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St. Bernice Society
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