Memorial : 5 January

BL. MARCELINA DAROWSKA, nee Kotowicz, was born on 16 January 1827 in Szulaki, Ukraine, to a land-owning Polish family. As a child she showed a particular love of prayer and a desire to dedicate herself to God. Her father could not understand this and, before he died, he obtained the promise from her that she would marry and raise a family. In 1849 she married Karol Darowski, but she decided to sanctify her marriage "by living only in God and for God". Less than three happy years had passed when Karol died, leaving her with two children. Her son died a year later and she confessed: "The way of the world was not chosen for me by God's will; the way of the convent was, indeed, my destiny".

In 1854 she traveled to Rome for reasons of health and met Fr Hieronim Kajsiewicz, a Resurrectionist who became her spiritual director. Through him she met Josephine Karska, who was thinking of founding a religious community dedicated to the overall formation of women. Their mutual work - the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary united Marcelina and Josephine in sincere friendship. For years, however, Josephine was sick with typhus and died in 1860. Marcelina thus became the Superior of the new religious family, which numbered no more than four. In 1863 she moved the community to her homeland, and at Jazlowiec, in the Archdiocese of Lviv, she opened her first school for girls, which soon became an important spiritual and cultural centre.

Marcelina undertook the work of educating women in the conviction that on it depends the rebirth of the family, which is the foundation of a morally healthy society. Among her principles for the formation of her sisters and students, she stressed the following: the primacy of God over everything, truth, mutual trust and unselfishness. She also offered effective help to the poor, desiring that tuition-free elementary schools be established at every convent. During her 50 years of Superior of the congregation, she opened seven convents with formation institutes and schools for children.

In 1904, the Polish writer Henry Sienkiewicz wrote of her: "Praise for your wise work and honour to your merit and goodness". Marcelina answered, saying: "I don't look at the results of our work. They don't belong to us. If they exist, they belong to God for the good of our beloved country, which is torn apart". She died on 5 January 1911.

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