A priest for the poor
Bronislaws Markiewicz was born on 13 July 1842 in Pruchnik in Galizia (southern Poland), the sixth of eleven children, in a devout lower-middle class family. Bronislaws faced hunger, poverty and persecution encountered at school because of his Christian ideals, but he met them all with a spirit of faith and decided to enter the seminary. On 15 September 1867 he was ordained a priest. He set himself vigorously to the task of teaching catechetics and to an apostolate for prisoners, and loved being with people especially if they were poor. He was attracted by marginalised youngsters suffering all kinds of poverty and decided to take up educational studies to better help them and to save their souls. Providence inspired him to have a burning desire to enter a Religious Institute dedicated to the care of the young.
Joins Don Bosco as a Salesian
So he left for Italy, where he was attracted to the spirituality of Don Bosco who, without his knowing it, already carried him within his heart. He asked and was accepted into the Salesian Congregation 1887 and made his perpetual vows to Don Bosco himself. He had the good fortune to hear the Saint’s recommendations and to directly absorb his spirit. In 1892 he returned to Poland as a Salesian and went as parish priest to Miejsce, in Galizia, where he could dedicate himself to poor and abandoned Polish youth.
More radical still - a new Society
To respond better to the practical needs of the poor in Galizia, Bronislaws felt the need to live Don Bosco’s principles even more radically and, after advice from those working with him, founded a Society called 'Work and Temperance'. Nine years after his death the society, with its male and female branches, was recognised by the Church and gave rise to two Congregations placed under the protection of St Michael the Archangel.
Their members became known as Michaelites. Father Bronislaws, like Don Bosco, recommended to his sons and to young people to foster great devotion to the Eucharist and to Mary as well as to St Michael, whom he chose as protector in the daily struggle against evil. Union with Christ crucified and the virtue of temperance characterise his apostolic activities on behalf of his neighbour.
He died in Miejsce Piestowe on 29 January 1912.
Declared Venerable 2 July 1994; beatified 19 June 2005 under pontificate of Benedict XVI