Saint of the Day ~ November 19

SAINT RAPHAEL KALINOWSKI (1835-1907), priest

Today, the Church honors Saint Raphael Kalinowski, whose journey through life took him from soldier and military engineer to political prisoner to priest and spiritual confessor.

Born and baptized Joseph Kalinowski in 1835 in present-day Vilnius, Lithuania, he was educated at his father’s school (his father being a prominent mathematics professor). Even though he felt called to the priesthood, Joseph decided to enter college and study zoology, chemistry and agriculture at the Institute of Agronomy in Hory Horki, Russia, and at the Academy of Military Engineering in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

In 1857, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the Russian Military Engineering Corps, in which he planned and supervised the construction of the railway between Kursk and Odessa. Promoted to captain in 1862 and stationed in Brest-Litovsk, Joseph never lost sight of his call to serve the Church. While in Brest-Litovsk, he started a religious education program, teaching and bearing all the costs of Sunday school, and accepting anyone who was interested.

In 1863, he resigned from the Russian Army and supported the Polish insurrection, becoming the rebellion’s minister of war for the Vilnius region, accepting the commission with the understanding that he would never hand out a death sentence or execute a prisoner.

On March 25, 1864, Joseph was arrested by Russian authorities and was condemned to death for his part in the revolt, but the authorities feared they would be creating a political martyr. As a result, they commuted his sentence to ten years forced labor in the Siberian salt mines.

After being released in 1873 and finding out that he was exiled from his home region in Lithuania, he moved to Paris, France, where he worked as a tutor for three years. It was after this period in his life that, in 1877, he finally answered the long-heard call to the religious life, and joined the Carmelite Order at Graz, Austria, taking the name Raphael. He studied theology and was ordained to the priesthood on January 15, 1882.

Father Raphael worked to restore church unity and also to restore the Discalced Carmelites to Poland. In addition, he founded a monastery at Wadowice, Poland in 1889. Renowned for his sanctity and spiritual zeal, he became spiritual director for both Catholic and Orthodox Christians in the region. In addition, he was considered an enthusiastic parish priest and spent countless hours with his parishioners in the confessional.

Overcome by fatigue and physical suffering, and held in great respect by all the people, he gave up his soul on November 15, 1907, at Wadowice in the monastery he founded. He was buried in the monastery cemetery, located at Czerna near Kraków.

On November 17, 1991, Father Raphael Kalinowski was canonized a saint by Pope St. John Paul II, presenting him as a model to all Christians in the universal Church.

We commemorate his feastday on November 19.

(From, and



(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors ~ pastor)

“Lord God, You gave Saint Raphael Kalinowski the Spirit of Truth and Love to shepherd Your people. May we honor him on this feast, learn from his example and be helped by his prayers.

“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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