The saint for March 20
Blessed Josef Bilczewski
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Roman Calendar

Born April 26, 1860 in Wilamowice, Poland
Died March 20, 1923 in Lviv, Poland
Beatified June 26, 2001, at Lviv, by Pope John Paul II

Josef was the eldest of nine children in a devout Polish peasant family. He had a deep love of God and the Blessed Virgin which led him to desire to be a priest. He attended the seminary at Krakow, entering in August 1880, and being ordained in 1884. Josef had a sharp, penetrating mind, which he used to honor God in the study of theology and Christian Archeology, earning a doctoral degree. While applying his mind to these subjects in Rome and in Paris, he was known as much for his devotion to God and generous love of neighbor, as for his learning.

He moved to Lviv in 1891, becoming a professor at the University of Lviv,and was appointed Archbishop of Lviv in 1900.

This unfolded as a very difficult time in European history, and guiding the Church in this time was a great challenge. Not only did he care for his people during the civil war, but also during the Polish-Ukranian war, which brought great violence to the region. This crescendo of violence reached a peak in 1919, with the Bolshevik invasion. many Catholics were killed or imprisoned, especially priests. Archbishop Bilczewski came to the aid of all he could regardless of religion.

He was always especially concerned for the poor. Indeed when he died, it was his wish to be interred in the paupers cemetery in Lviv, so as to be with them in solidarity after death. He bore his last days of declining health and illness with great patience and grace.

At his beatification ceremony, Pope John Paul II expressed that it was a special joy for him to bestow this honor on Archbishop Bilczewski, because he himself had been ordained through the archbishop's line of succession.

Pray to Blessed Josef for Grace and Holiness under Pressure
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