Parish Nurse Aleksandra Dambska, friend of Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska, was  honoured as Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem for having sheltered Jewish children during WW II. (Photo from the archives of the Association of Catholic Nurses and Midwives, Krakow. Photo used with permission of Aleksandra’s niece, Gosia Brykczynska.) 

Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska was born in Warsaw in 1902 and died in 1972. After her basic nursing education in Poland, she travelled to Paris on a Rockefeller scholarship to study community nursing. She led a very busy life: she taught community nursing, helped to establish the Polish Nursing Association, edited a professional nursing journal, and developed legislation to regulate nursing in Poland. Blessed Hanna reflected on how she helped Christ to carry His cross through her nursing care. She saw nursing as her vocation and became a Benedictine Oblate of the Tyniec Abbey in the 1950s.

She organized relief services for refugees in Krakow during the Second World War, but the post-war Communist authorities forced her into early retirement because of her influence on Catholic nursing students. Then, in 1957, she developed a network of parish-based nurses and 300 volunteers in Krakow to support the chronically ill in their homes through nursing care and spiritual support. Pope St. John Paul II accompanied her on visits to the sick when he was known as Fr Karol Wojtyla, and in his memoirs, he attributed much of his understanding of human suffering and the work of nurses to Blessed Hanna’s activities.

Follow the link to order Dr. Brykczynska’s book, Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska: Nurse of Mercy.