PRIEST (APRIL 25, 2004)
HE RENOUNCED ROYALTY FOR CHRIST
Augustus Czartoryski was born in Paris on August 2, 1858, in exile, to the Polish Prince Ladislaw and Princess Mary Amparo, daughter of the Queen of Spain. Thirty years before, this noble family, tied to Polish nobility, had emigrated to France.
From his place of exile, Prince Ladislaw had sought to restore unity to his country which had fallen apart in 1795. When he was six, Augustus lost his mother. Margaret d’Orléans, took her place. She was the daughter of the Count of Paris, pretender to the French throne. From his earliest years, Augustus showed himself to be a good, thoughtful boy. Although much attached to his beloved Poland, he was never attracted to courtly life. The action of grace in his soul gave him detachment from earthly goods and a serious spiritual life.
Between the age of 10 and 17 he studied in Paris and Krakow, but his health forced him to interrupt his studies and go to the south of Europe frequently in search of a better climate. At the time Providence placed Joseph Kalinowski in his life, who prudently guided him not only in his studies, but especially in the spiritual life. Afterwards Kalinowski became a Carmelite. Today he is venerated in the Church as a Saint.
The tutor described his pupil as a lad with a stable character, a good soul, perfectly courteous, sincere, intelligent and very religious, but with a simple heart. In May 1883 Don Bosco was in France. He was invited to Lambert Palace by Princess Margaret d’Orléans. Augustus served his Mass, and the saint said to him, “I have wanted to meet you for quite some time!” The prince was struck by this encounter and following it, he went several times to Turin to meet Don Bosco. He insisted to him that he be allowed to enter the Salesians, but the Founder was not convinced. Augustus spoke with Pope Leo XIII, who invited Don Bosco to accept him.
In July 1887, after having renounced his earthly goods and all possibility of the throne, he entered the novitiate against his family’s wishes. He was 29 years of age. In his efforts to adapt himself to the Oratory and its lifestyle, he became the humblest of novices. Don Bosco, almost on his deathbed, blessed his religious habit. He began his philosophy studies. He soon took ill with tuberculosis. In the house at Valsalice, Turin, he met Venerable Andrea Beltrami. The two developed a deep spiritual friendship, while Andrea looked after Augustus during his illness.
Meanwhile Don Rua let him study theology and admitted him to Holy Orders. When he was ordained a priest at Saint Remo on April 2, 1892, his family chose to be absent: they had made many efforts to get him to leave the Congregation.
Augustus fully took on Salesian spirituality, especially its element of sacrifice and offered his life and sufferings for the good of the young and the Congregation just as Don Bosco did. Fr. Augustus died in Alassio on April 8, 1893, on the Saturday of the Octave of Easter. “What a wonderful Easter!” he had said. He was 35 years old. St. John Paul II, the Polish Pope, had the joy of declaring him Blessed on April 25, 2004. His body is venerated in Przemysl (Poland).