In his seventy-two years of life, St. Raphael was a teacher, engineer, prisoner of war, royal tutor, and a Discalced Carmelite friar and priest. Jozef was born to a noble family on September 1, 1835 in Vilnuis, Lithuania, which was inside the Russian partition of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
In 1853 he enlisted in the Russian Imperial Army and entered an engineering academy. From 1858 to 1860 he worked as an army engineer. Jozef also became an associate professor of mathematics.
He resigned from the army in 1863 because of his strong support and sympathies towards the Poles. He joined the January uprising which attempted to regain Polish independence. Jozef was taken a prisoner and sentenced to hard labor in Siberia. It took him and his fellow prisoners nine months to make the forced march to the labor camp. He was sustained by his strong faith during that ordeal and became a spiritual leader to other prisoners. He was released after his ten year sentence ended.
He returned to Warsaw in 1874 and became a tutor to Prince August Czartoryski. Two years later the Prince developed tuberculosis. Kalinowski traveled with him to health centers in France, Italy, Switzerland and Poland. Despite the doctor’s efforts, the Prince died two years later.
In 1877, Kalinowski entered the Discalced Carmelite community in Linz and took the religious name Brother Raphael of St. Joseph. It was common for the friars to have the name, “of St. Joseph” in honor of the convent of St. Joseph founded by St. Teresa of Avila. He was ordained a priest at Czerna on January 15, 1882. A year later he became prior of the community at Czerna.
He founded a number of Catholic organizations around Poland and Ukraine. Kalinowski contributed greatly to restoring the Discalced in Poland with opening convents of nuns in Prezemys and Lvov, and a house for the friars in Wadowicz. He was sought after as a confessor. He was also a spiritual director not only for Catholics but also members of the Russian Orthodox Church.
He died from tuberculosis on November 11, 1907. After his death, a large number of pilgrims traveled to Wadowic to visit his grave. His body was moved to a tomb and eventually to a burial place in Czerna.
Raphael Kalinowski was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1983 in Krakow before a crowd of two million people. On November 17, 1991, Pope John Paul II canonized him at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
“Our Redeemer ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, extends His hands to everyone. He opens His heart and says, ‘Come to Me all of you.’”