Blessed Aniela Salawa
Blessed Aniela Salawa was born in 1881 and died in 1922. She was an eleventh child of Ewa and Bartlomiej. As a child she was malnourished (because of her mother’s illness) and she wasn’t as strong as her siblings. She was petite, with poor health, but at the same time she was ruddy (and it was impossible to say that she looked like a sickly person). Aniela helped her parents at house works, she chopped wood, dug a small well etc. She learnt at school only for two years, so she had only a basic education. She grew up in really religious family, so Aniela had a strong spiritual formation. Her family participated in whole Sunday service (they took part even in vespers). When Aniela was young, she attended services in Redemptories and Franciscan parishes.
When Aniela was 16 years old, it was a perfect time to think about her future. Her sisters were maids, so Aniela also thought about such kind of work. She went to Cracow and worked there as a maid – because of her skills, it was the only job she could take at this time. She worked in this profession more than 20 years – she served in many houses and sometimes she was forced to look for other employer because of threat to the virtue of chastity (she made vows of chastity in age of 18). As a result of frequent changing a workplace, Aniela experienced being a homeless person.
In 1903 she started to take Holy Communion every day; in 1912 she joined novitiate of Third Order of St. Francis (in 1913 she made a vow).
When she became ill (this period in her life lasted about 4 years), she decided to find a flat only for herself. She suffered a lot, but she knew that she would suffer much more. She found a room for rent – it was a room in the basement (needless to say that rooms in the basement were equipped with all “privileges of the total poverty”: cold, stuffy air, humidity, poor lighting). There were many people, who tried to help Aniela: her family, friends and priests. Aniela never felt a lack of the most necessary things. It was only modest and temporary help, because in this time everybody suffered due to poverty. What is more: one of her employers was a layer, called Fisher, had an office. In this office worked a student – Ludwik Mlynarski. He wasn’t religious, but he willingly talked with Aniela about topics connected with religion and faith. One day he was experienced with illness – he had a slight paralysis of the right side of his body. As a result of it, he decided to commit a suicide. Aniela tried to persuade him not to do it, but he was stubborn and he couldn’t put up with suffering. Aniela started to pray – her intention was to take over his illness. Jesus answered her prayers almost immediately – she got some additional complaints, like pain in her back, right hand and leg. Mlynarski recovered, he became a solder. All problems with her health, especially: her problems with stomach, developed into a cancer. This illness also was a result of her will and prayer. When she was ill and all complaints were really troublesome, she met an old man, who suffered because of cancer. He was thrown out of the hospital, because his illness was incurable. She wanted to suffer on his behalf.
During the First World War she helped solders. In according to her diary, it certain that Aniela was conscious of mistakes made by priests, but she strongly believed that prayer would be a perfect help for them.
She died in 1922.