Curriculum vitae

She came from a very wealthy family and chose the profession of a nurse. Instead of living in salons, she spent her life among the sick, lonely and abandoned.

from a brochure prepared under the supervision of Mrs. Teresa Kloch-Mizerska and Mr. Witold Mizerski.

Hanna Chrzanowska was born on October 7, 1902 in Warsaw, into a family distinguished for Polish science, culture and Polish nursing. Her father, Ignacy Chrzanowski, a famous professor of Polish literature, came from a Catholic family of Podlasie landowners. Mother Wanda, née Szlenkier, came from an evangelical family of wealthy Warsaw industrialists: her mother’s sister, Zofia Szlenkierowna, was the founder of a children’s hospital in Warsaw and the director of the Warsaw School of Nursing. Both families were known for their extensive charitable activities. In 1910, Hanna’s parents move to Krakow, where Professor I. Chrzanowski takes over the chair at the Jagiellonian University.

In Krakow, Hanna first studied privately. and then at the Ursuline Sisters’ Junior High School, where she graduated with honors in 1920. After graduating from high school, she completed a short nursing course to help victims of the Polish-Bolshevik war. In December 1920, Hanna began studying Polish studies at the Jagiellonian University.

Upon learning of the establishment of the Warsaw School of Nursing, he interrupts his studies and joins the newly opened school to devote himself entirely to nursing. This was a key decision for Hanna, which was to determine the future path of her life. After graduating from school in 1924, he went on scholarships to France and Belgium, where he deepened his knowledge, especially in the field of social nursing.

In the years 1926 – 1929 she worked as an instructor at the University School of Nurses and Hygienists in Krakow. From 1929 to 1939, Hanna Chrzanowska edited the monthly “Pielęgniarka Polska” – the first professional magazine for nurses in Poland. He lives in Warsaw at this time. He publishes many works in the field of nursing and also makes successful attempts at literary work. By participating in the work of the Polish Association of Vocational Nurses, she actively participated in the preparation of the “Nursing Act” passed by the Parliament in 1935: This Act, considered one of the best in the world, is intended to regulate the professional status of nurses and will be in force in Poland almost until the end 20th century. Hanna Chrzanowska also contributed significantly to the establishment of the Catholic Association of Polish Nurses in 1937.

The outbreak of World War II brings many painful experiences to Hanna. On October 2, 1939, her beloved aunt, Zofia Szlenkierna, died in bombed Warsaw. November 6 In 1939, as part of Sonderaktion Krakau, her father was arrested and deported together with other professors to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he died soon thereafter (January 19, 1940). In the spring of 1940, Hanna’s only brother, Bohdan, was murdered by the Soviets in Katyn. The war does not spare many other people close to Hanna. Despite these tragic experiences, he does not lose heart. At the beginning of the war, he returns to Krakow and volunteers to work in the Polish Welfare Committee, devoting all his strength to caring for refugees, prisoners and displaced persons. It takes special care of orphaned children, including Jewish children, by looking for foster families and safe places to stay for them. It organizes summer camps and conducts feeding campaigns. He works extremely devotedly, often risking his health and life.

Experiencing the cruelty of war has a significant impact on the development of her inner life. It is a time to seek support in God, a time to discover the power of prayer and the meaning of the Eucharist. This time of spiritual maturation goes hand in hand with the formation of an evangelical attitude of love for one’s neighbor.

After the war, Hanna Chrzanowska started working at the University School of Nursing and Midwifery as the head of the social nursing department. He goes on a scholarship to the USA, where he deepens his knowledge in the field of home nursing. She uses her experience to organize hospital and home nursing.

For many years he has been teaching open nursing methodology at the School of Nursing Instructors in Warsaw. As an instructor and educator, she puts strong emphasis on educating young nurses in the spirit of authentic service to sick people, taking into account not only their health but also spiritual needs and respecting their dignity.

In 1957, Hanna Chrzanowska became the director of the School of Psychiatric Nursing in Kobierzyn, and a year later, after the unexpected liquidation of this institution, she took early retirement. However, it still remains present in the life of the nursing community. He takes an active part in the work of the Polish Nursing Association. He develops a highly respected textbook – “Nursing in open health care”. She publishes professional articles in nursing journals.

While performing many important functions in school structures and other nursing institutions, Hanna Chrzanowska does not hide her religious beliefs and attachment to Christian values. On the contrary, with his life he gives a clear and transparent testimony of faith. This attitude evokes respect and recognition, especially among students and colleagues, and generates reluctance and even certain repressions from the communist authorities. Retirement does not mean rest for Hanna. He knows firsthand the problems of many sick people – lonely, abandoned and disabled, deprived of any care. Following her inner inspiration, she decides to organize professional nursing assistance for them (based on church structures and independent of the inefficient state health service).

With this thought he turns to Fr. Karol Wojtyła, later Bishop of Krakow, finding full understanding of his plans: With moral and material support from the church authorities, he organizes parish nursing facilities in Krakow and the entire archdiocese. Endowed with a charismatic personality, she gathers a wide group of collaborators and volunteers around this work, including nurses, nuns, seminarians, priests, doctors, professors and students. With their help, he organizes retreat retreats for his patients, which restore the joy of life to the sick and give them strength to bear their daily cross.

Thanks to her efforts, the custom of celebrating Holy Mass is becoming popular: in the sick’s home and visiting the sick as part of pastoral visits. Hanna Chrzanowska still devotes a lot of attention to the nursing community, caring for the spiritual and ethical level of nurse midwives. It organizes periodic conferences and annual retreats for them. Distributes the carefully composed “Nurse’s Examination of Conscience”.

In all fields of work with the sick, Hanna Chrzanowska works closely with Fr. Cardinal Karol Wojtyła. At his request, the Holy Father Paul VI awards her with the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontilice” medal. Hanna’s inner life is shaped largely according to the spirituality of St. Benedykt – since 1956 she has been an oblate of the Tyniec Abbey. Serving the sick and suffering all his life, he realizes more and more clearly that he serves Christ himself in them.

Hanna Chrzanowska dies in Krakow, April 29. 1973. Funeral ceremonies at the Rakowicki Cemetery are presided over by Fr. Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. In his funeral homily he said, among other things: “Thank you, Mrs. Hanna, for being among us (…) an embodiment of Christ’s blessings from the Sermon on the Mount, especially the one that says: blessed are the merciful.”

People who knew Hanna closely testify that she heroically fulfilled the commandment of love for one’s neighbor. Hence, the idea was born in the circle of Krakow nurses to make efforts for her beatification. In 1995, nurses from the Catholic Association of Nurses and Midwives asked Fr. Cardinal F. Macharski to initiate the beatification process.

The Cardinal, who himself said about Hanna that she was “the conscience of the nursing community”, responded favorably to this request and, after meeting the necessary requirements, solemnly opened the process on November 3, 1998. The beatification process of the Servant of God was closed at the diocesan level on the 30th. XII. 2002. Then, the procedural documents were transferred to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Holy See, where further work is ongoing to assess the sanctity of the life and heroic virtues of the Servant of God Hanna Chrzanowska.