Woman of faith. Polish nurse. Nursing pioneer. In Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska, RN: A Nurse of Mercy, discover the inspiring story of the first lay registered nurse to be beatified.
Even before a nursing school existed in her native Poland, Hanna Chrzanowska (1902-1973) chose to become a professional nurse. She worked most of her life as a community nursing instructor, and she became the first editor of the Polish nursing journal. She played a major role in writing the first Polish nursing practice Act and she was much sought after as a speaker and nursing adviser. After she helped tend to war refugees during World War II, her pioneering career helped shape Polish nursing even further when she set up Parish nursing in Kraków. She contributed to the formation of countless students, and she helped innumerable patients living in the community, often in appalling social conditions.
Above all, Hanna was a committed Christian who followed the Gospel call to love and serve one’s neighbor, even when Poland’s Communist government made that difficult. With the help of hundreds of student volunteers, professional nurses, and committed lay and consecrated people of the Kraków Archdiocese, she established parish nursing in late 1950s Kraków and introduced homebound and disabled patients to retreats, home Masses, and reintegration into parish life. Blessed Hanna worked closely with Cardinal Karol Wojtyła. It was largely under her influence that, years later, as Pope St. John Paul II, he designated the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes as the World Day of Prayer for the Sick.
Her canonization cause was opened at the request of her nursing colleagues, who recognized her saintliness. Her canonization marked the first time that a professional group instigated the opening of a canonization cause of one of its own members. In her case, it was the Catholic Association of Nurses and Midwives, from Krakow, who petitioned their local bishop, Cardinal Franciszek Macharski.