She was a simple woman who worked as a nurse and spent the last years of her life alone and in poverty. She didn’t start a religious order, or author any theological texts. But sometimes a simple person can still lead a saintly life; just look at Blessed Angela Salawa.
Born on Sept. 9, 1881, in a small town near Krakow, Poland, Angela was the eleventh of twelve children, a sickly child who had great devotion to God.
When she was 16, she moved to Krakow to work as a maid. She lived with her older sister, Teresa, and soon began indulging in more earthly interests, leaving her faith behind.
Her sister always worried about her, begging her to change her life and return to God. The turning points in Angela’s life came from a combination of Teresa’s death — which devastated her — and a vision of Jesus. Angela said that while dancing at a wedding reception, Jesus appeared to her, asking how she could love dancing more than him.
Angela was influenced by the life of St. Francis of Assisi, as well as the Carmelite saints, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. She took private vows of chastity in 1900, and in 1912, became a secular Franciscan.
During World War I, Angela worked as a nurse for the injured soldiers in Poland, treating each one with kindness, regardless of faith or nationality. Stories say she used her own salary and begged on the streets for money to buy resources to care for the soldiers.
In 1916, false accusations were made against her and she was fired from her job. By this time, her health had began to deteriorate, and she lived her final years in sickness and poverty. The St. Zita Association cared for Angela in her final days. She died on March 12, 1922 at age 40.
In 1981, her cause for beatification was accepted, based on the miraculous healing of a boy with a brain injury. Her fellow countryman, St. John Paul II, declared her Blessed during his visit to Krakow in August 1991, saying: “It is in this city that she worked, that she suffered and that her holiness came to maturity. While connected to the spirituality of St. Francis, she showed an extraordinary responsiveness to the action of the Holy Spirit.”
Blessed Angela Salawa’s feast day is March 12.
She is the patron of Secular Franciscans, those with multiple sclerosis, and people with terminal illnesses.
Read her biography at Franciscan Media here:
This blog has a prayer for St. Angela: