Catholic female orders in Vilnius (2)

@ Kurier Wilenski

Female religious congregations in Vilnius under the Russian Partition.

Despite severe censorship of church life by the Russian authorities, the liquidation of male orders, lack of permissions to set up congregations of female orders in Vilnius after the January Uprising, the demand of the Vilnius community for nuns’ activity in the city upon the Neris River caused that, in spite of  bans, nuns started to arrive in Vilnius, they established their houses and fruitfully worked for the Catholic, Polish community in the city.

One of the few who arrived in Vilnius as first were Franciscan Sisters of Sufferers, i.e. the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of Sufferers established in 1882 by Blessed Honorat Koźmiński and the mother Kazimiera Gruszczyńska. The sisters are a habitless congregation. The mission of the Congregation is the service for sufferers, the ill and the lonely by prayer, devotion and work of sisters at hospitals, in nursing homes and private houses. The foundation of Franciscan Sisters of Sufferers’ spirituality is the rich Franciscan heritage. Following St. Francis’ example, sisters shape their life on the basis of Gospel. They contemplate Christ manifesting his love in the mysteries of the Embodiment, Crucification and Eucharist and consider His goodness for the ill and sufferers. They operated in Warsaw in ul. Wilcza 7. Their house, called “The Shelter” (“Przytulisko”), existed under the cover of the hospital. In 1884 the count Józef Przeździecki brought Franciscan sisters to Vilnius. They worked in his ophthalmic clinic in ul. Tyzenhauzowska in the Naujinnikai district. In 1907 the count passed over the clinic to the Congregation, in the years 1902-1926 sisters operated in the St. Joseph’s Hospital. Franciscan sisters had their house in ul. Tyzenhauzowska in Vilnius and they lived there until 1945.

The Congregation of the Daughters of the Cleanest Heart of Virgin Mary also operated in Vilnius. The nuns were brought by Paulina Żemiecka in 1887. They had their houses in ul. Mostowa and then in ul. Elizy Orzeszkowej. Until 1906 they operated secretly; they worked in the shelter for girls where a secret Polish school was. They taught house works; since 1896 their general house was in Vilnius.

The next order – The Congregation of Sisters of Angels was established in 1889 in Vilnius by the priest the inspector of the Vilnius seminary. The congregation was to help priests in their pastoral work. Nuns of Angels worked as religion teachers, but also as nurses and doctors. Until the World War I they operated secretly and habitlessly. At the end of the 19th century the nuns from the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Name of JesusUunder the Care of Mary of the Help for the Faithful came to Vilnius. They are popularly called marylki and they are habitless nuns. The congregation was established by Blessed Honorat Koźmiński and the mother Franciszka Maria Witkowska in 1887 in Warsaw. The sisters work in education, take care of the ill, operate in parishes. They also take up missionary work in various countries. Until World War I they operated underground.

They came to Vilnius in 1892, in 1908 there were 4 of them. They worked in tailor’s workshops, they set up a workshop of canonical dresses, since 1912 – they had a tailor’s workshop and bookbindery and since 1913 – a workshop producing tricot goods and canonical dresses. After World War I they had four monastic houses in Vilnius and the Vilnius Region (Połuknie, Landwarów). They worked in Vilnius in the tailor’s workshop “Education and Work” and in the dormitory for girls; in Połuknie they ran an orphanage and dealt with the catechising of children. In 1938 nuns were brought to Landwarów by the priest Kazimierz Kułak, the PhD. Sisters in Landwarów ran a kindergarten, a tailor’s workshop, they took care of homeless elderly people and after the outbreak of the war they set up a war hospital. 52 nuns lived in Vilnius, Landwarów and Połuknie. In 1945 they went to Poland.

At the end of the 19th century the nuns from the Congregation of the Daughters of Virgin Mary’s  Immaculate Conception arrived in Vilnius. They were a habitless congregation established on 21st November, 1891 in Zakroczym by Blessed Honorat Koźmiński with the participation of Waleria Ludwika Gąsiorowska and approved by the Apostolic Capital in 1934. It was based on Rule III of the Regular Order of St. Francis of Assisi. The apostolic activity of the congregation focuses on urban environments. Nuns ran tailor’s workshops, laundries, shelters for elderly people, gastronomical facilities, etc. They came to Vilnius in 1893 and operated secretly to the end of World War I. In Vilnius they ran corset workshops, tailor’s workshops and laundries. They had their houses in ul. Płocka and ul. Uniwersytecka. In 1924 and 1934 they opened two houses in Bujwidziszki in Vilnius where they dealt with gardening. 49 nuns lived in 5 houses.

At the end of the 19th century the sisters from the Congregation of Westiarki of Jesus’ Sisters, Congregatio Sororum Vestiariarium Desu arrived in Vilnius. The name originates in the Latin word vestio, vestiare – sewing dresses, clothing, so westiarki are the sisters sewing dresses for Jesus Christ. The congregation was founded by Blessed  Honorat Koźmiński (1829 – 1916), the Capuchin monk, with the participation of Sabina Józefa Kawecka (1821 – 1886) on 12th November, 1882 in Zakroczym. It is one of many habitless congregation established by Blessed  Honorat Koźmiński on the basis of St. Francis’ rule. It started its activity in Zagórów in the diocese of Włocławek, where the first monastic house with the workshop of canonical dresses and novitiate was founded. In the following years another house in Włocławek and Warsaw was established. In 1898, the ordinary of Włocławek, the bishop Aleksander Kazimierz Bereśniewicz (1823 – 1902) issued a letter of commendation in which he fully endorsed the order as “a religious association on the diocesan law”, and in 1929 the ordinary of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Warsaw, the cardinal Aleksander Kakowski (1862 – 1938) issued a decree of erection concerning the workshop “Rewarding Work”. The order operated from 1892 to 1908 in Vilnius, sisters worked in the workshop of canonical dresses. In 1908 3 nuns worked and lived in Vilnius.

Four years later the Sisters Helpers of the Purgatorial Souls, habitless, arrived in Vilnius. The order was founded on 10th November 1889 by Blessed  Honorat Koźmiński along with the co-organizer Wanda Olądzka. Sisters take care of ill and lonely people in their houses, they operate according to the rule of St. Francis of Assisi. They arrived to Vilnius about 1896, they worked there in a candle factory, bookbindery, they took care of ill and disabled people in their houses and beggars. There were two monastic houses in Vilnius: on Atokol since 1900 and in ul. Ostrobramska since 1931. 18 nuns lived in Vilnius, in the years 1945-1947 they went to Poland.

The Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Jesus’ Heart, sercanki

The congregation was founded by Blessed  Józef Sebastian Pelczar and the mother Klara Ludwika Szczęsna in 1894 in Kraków; it operates according to the rule of the Third Order of St. Francis. On 30th January 1923, in less than 29 years since the date of setting-up, the order was endorsed by the Apostolic Capital. A few sercanki were invited to Vilnius by the bishop Karol Hryniewicki (1841-1929) before 1890. They operated secretly prior to the tzar’s dictatorship. Next, nuns from the Congregation of Little Sisters of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, popularly honoratki, were brought to Vilnius. The order was set up by Blessed  Honorat Koźmiński and the sister Aniela Godecka (1861-1937) on 4th October 1888 in Warsaw. Honoratki are devoted to work in workforce environments. They arrived in Vilnius about 1894, they took up residence in ul. Mostowa, they worked secretly and took care of children in shelters. In 1921 they established another house in ul. Kalwaryjska, they delt with the catechising of children.

In the interwar era in Vilnius 57 Little Sisters  of Mary’s Immaculate Heart lived in two houses. At the beginning of the 20th century sisters from the Congregation of Jesus’ Servants, popularly called zytki came to Vilnius. The Congregation operates in the form of the hidden monastic life, it was established by Blessed Honorat Koźmiński along with the co-founder Eleonora Ludwika Mohylowska. The aim of the congregation was to take care of servants (hence their popular name – zytki, from the patron saint of servants St. Zyta), they also ran educational and didactic activity among girls. Zytki were brought to Vilnius in 1903 by Anna Mineykowa, they ran here tailor’s workshops, they worked in the shelters of Vilnius’ old and disabled servants, they ran an office of servants’ employment. In 1908 eight nuns were in Vilnius.

At the beginning of the 20th century nuns from the Congregation of the Holy Family from Nazareth Congregatio Sororum Sacra Familiae de Nazareth (CSFN), nazaretanki, came to Vilnius as well. It is a female monastic congregation set up in 1875 in Rome by Blessed Maria Franciszka Siedliska, approved in 1909 by the pope Pius X. Their main aims of activity: the work on the revival of the Polish family, bringing up children, especially orphans, running kindergartens and schools. Nazaretanki arrived in Vilnius in 1906, their house was in ul. Sierakowskiego, in the interwar era 37 sisters and 3 postulants lived in Vilnius. Nazaretanki ran the gymnasium and secondary school for girls, they worked in elementary schools and a dormitory for girls. In 1945 they went to Poland.

In Vilnius the nuns from the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, popularly magdalenki, played an important role. The Congregation was founded on 1st November 1862 due to effort of the mother Teresa Potocka in Warsaw. The aim of the congregation was the work with girls, whose moral and material life was the most endangered. Successfully developing activity of the Congregation caused opening of new facilities near Warsaw, in Kraków, Częstochowa and Płock. In 1909 in Vilnius the general Bykowski’s dacha on Antokol in ul. Senatorska 25 (nowadays V.Grybo) was bought and there on 7th November 1909 the consecration of the House took place, and its first superior was the mother Aniela Emilia Popławska. In Vilnius nuns took care of former female prisoners and prostitutes. Since 1937 they took care of sentenced underage girls, they ran a dormitory. The Congregation earned money by the work of sisters and the girls and women under their care. The house of the Congregation survived in Vilnius until 1941. In 1941 nuns were thrown out of the nunnery, then they went into the Dispersion starte. Some nuns went to Poland in the years 1945-1946. After World War II in their house the children’s home was situated. In the years 1929, 1933-1936 in this house the sister Faustyna (Helena Kowalska), later St. Faustina, stayed.

Source: http://kurierwilenski.lt/2013/01/04/zakony-katolickie-zenskie-w-wilnie-2/

Tłumaczenie Barbara Szydłowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Barbara Szydłowska the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu. 

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