Father Raphael of Saint Joseph Kalinowski served the Discalced Carmelite order for thirty years, working to unite the Eastern Christians during a time of tension and distrust. He was a devout leader among his Carmelite brothers, and his passion for reconciliation drew him to his flock's confessional for hours on end. Father Raphael founded many Carmelite monasteries around Poland after their suppression by the Russians. As a champion of Christian unification, Raphael built his life on St Theresa's words: "God alone suffices". He is heralded, not only as a hero of the faith, but as a patriot, having demonstrated his national zeal while standing against the Russians during the Polish resistance. Father Raphael's love for God and country is a testament to his selfless service to the Church, to his community and to God who “alone suffices”. He was canonized as a Saint by Pope John Paul II in 1991.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Joseph Kalinowski in Vilna (present day Lithuania) on September 1, 1835. His mother, Josephine, died several months after giving birth, leaving behind Raphael and his older brother, Victor.
His father, Andrew Kalinowski, then married Josephine's sister, Sophie, and had three more children. Sophie then died. After marrying for a third time, this time to Sophie Puttkamer, his father had four more children, making Raphael the second-eldest of nine siblings.
Raphael's father was a mathematics professor at the Institute of Nobles in Vilnius, and he took on Raphael as a pupil at the age eight. Andrew's religious fervor affected Raphael at a young age; although, he did not enter the ministry until much later.
During his early education, Raphael excelled under his father's teaching and graduated from the Institute of Nobles with honors in 1850.
Immediately moving to Russia, he attended the Institute of Agronomy from 1851–1852.
In 1853, Raphael changed careers and completed his studies at the Nicholayev Engineering Academy and enlisted in the Russian Army.
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After completing his education at the Nicholayev Engineering Academy and graduating from the Russian Engineering Corps in 1857, Raphael was promoted to Full Lieutenant and began work on the Kursk-Kiev-Odessa Railway.
He worked on the Kursk-Kiev-Odessa Railway until being commissioned as Engineer Superintendent for Maintenance at Brest-Litowski in 1860. He was promoted to Captain of the General Staff in 1862.
Displaying evidence of his devout upbringing and his religious interests, Raphael began and carried on a Sunday school program while working at the Brest-Litowski fortress.
In 1863, finding himself sympathetic to the Polish insurrection, Raphael resigned from his commission and joined the movement as Minister of War. He led the Vilna region's struggle against the Russian occupation from Warsaw.
A year later, in 1864, Raphael was arrested by the Russian authorities and sentenced to death. He was imprisoned in a former Dominican monastery.
Fearing the rebellion would rally around Raphael's death as a martyr, the Russian authorities commuted his sentence to 10 years of forced labor on July 29, 1864. After nine months of travel, he arrived at the Siberian salt mines in Usol.
In 1868, he was moved to Irkutsk where he conducted meteorological research for the Russian Geographical Company.
He was released on April 23, 1874, and he returned to Warsaw. He was exiled from his home country and moved to Paris where he began tutoring Prince Czartoryski.
He tutored the prince until 1877 when he entered the Carmel of Linz as "Brother Raphael of St. Joseph". During the time just prior to this, he had met and was greatly influenced by Father Augustine Mary of the Blessed Sacrament. Father Augustine was a Discalced Carmelite who was known before his conversion as Hermann Cohen, an accomplished Jewish convert and pianist.
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Raphael was ordained as priest at Czerna on January 15, 1882 where he served as Prior.
He founded monasteries in Premislia (1884) and Leopoli (1888). In 1899, Raphael was named Visitator and Vicar Provincial of these monasteries.
From 1892 to the end of his life, Raphael documented the work and life of Mother Theresa Marchocka and promoted her beatification.
Raphael Kalinowski chronicled the Carmelite monasteries and convents of Vilna, Warsaw, Leopoli and Cracow.
He authored a biography of his friend Hermann Cohen, the Discalced Carmelite who converted after becoming famous as an exceptionally talented Jewish pianist.
He translated 'The Story of a Soul', the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, into Polish. This work has had a profound impact on the Christian community and has since been translated into dozens of languages.
He completed his 'Memoirs 1805-1887' at the request of his superiors, detailing his life as a Discalced Carmelite and ecumenical Christian leader.
Awards & Achievements
On June 22, 1983, Pope John Paul II performed the rite of Beatification of Father Raphael in Poland.
Raphael was Canonized on November 17, 1991 by Pope John Paul II as a Patron of Ecumenism with Eastern Christians.
Personal Life & Legacy
Raphael died of Tuberculosis on 15 November 1907, in Wadowice, Poland. He was buried in the Czerna Convent cemetery.
The Catholic Church has announced November 19th as Saint Raphael Feast Day.
Canada has pronounced Saint Raphael as the Patron Saint of the Polish Nobles League.
Father Raphael of Saint Joseph was the first Discalced Carmelite friar to be Canonized since the order's founder Saint John of the Cross in 1675.
Pope John Paul II, who canonized Father Raphael, was born in the same town in which Father Raphael died.