Adam Chmielowski was born on August 20, 1845 in Igolomia in diocese of Cracow. He was from land-owning family. At the age of 8 he lost his father, and his mother died 6 years later.
He was educated in the cadet school in St. Petersburg. After that, he attended to the junior high school in Warsaw (Warszawa), and in years 1861-1863 he studied in the Institute of Agriculture and Forestry in Pulawy. In 1863, he joined and fought in the January Uprising. On September 30, he was seriously injured, in consequence of that his leg was amputated. He was arrested for a while. Thanks to his family efforts, he went out of prison and he left for Paris, to avoid the tsarist authorities’ repression, where he studied painting. Then he moved to Belgium, where he studied engineering in Ghent. But he returned to study art quickly and he finished Academy of the Fine Arts in Munich. He returned to the country after amnesty in 1874. Then his spiritual quest started. One of his the most well known painting “Ecce Homo”, presenting the suffering Christ in the crown of thorns, dated from those times. Nowadays, this painting is situated in the altar in the Sanctuary of St. Brother Albert in Crakow at 10 Woronicza str. In 1880, he stopped painting and left many social contacts, and at the age of 35 he joined the Jesuit novitiate in Stara Wies. Unfortunately he suffered from severe depression and had to leave novitiate after half a year to undergo treatment. After recovery, he was interested in spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi. He got to know the rule of The Third Order and started tertiary activity.
He moved to Crakow and started to help the poorest people in 1884. The painting studio maintained into a poorhouse. When he was taking care of paupers and homeless people he saw the battered face of the Christ in their faces. After that, he assumed the position of managing of the shelter for the homeless people. He moved there permanently to live among poverty and help.
Adam Chmielowski took tertiary grey habit and the name of Albert on August 25, 1887 and vowed one year later. That was also the day of the beginning of an activity in the Congregation of the Brothers of the Third Order of St. Francis Servants of the Poor called the Congregation of the Albertine Brothers. The congregation acquired the custody on the shelter for men in Piekarska str. in Crakow. Brother Albert also acquired the custody on the shelter for women less than a year later, and the group of assistants became the beginning of the Congregation of the Albertine Sisters. The formation of both congregations’ candidates was organized in the hermit houses.
Despite of the disability brother Albert travelled a lot. He arranged many shelters, orphanages, nursing homes, homes for the terminally ill and “running soup kitchens”. He was devastated by the severe disease and difficulty of life in a poorhouse. He died, with a reputation of sanctity on December 26, 1916. He was beatified on June 22, 1983 on the Blonie in Cracow and canonised by the Pope John Paul II in Vatican on November 12, 1989.
Places connected with St. Brother Albert:
- Crakow: The Sanctuary of St. Brother Albert or Ecce Homo Church at The Congregation of Albertine Sisters (http://www.albertynki.pl/sanktuarium.php)