Alicja Lenczewska: Life of a Sinner and Mystic

Of three remarkable women, all Polish and devout Catholics, the most renowned mystic among them is undoubtedly Saint Faustina Kowalska, whose diary is deemed a gem of mystical literature.

Less known is Wanda Boniszewska, currently undergoing the process of beatification. She joined the Congregation of Sisters of the Angels in 1925. A stigmatist, she experienced Christ’s Passion in her own body. In a Soviet labor camp, Wanda witnessed hellish conditions, yet her influence led to the conversion of her tormentors. God endowed Boniszewska with unique mystical gifts, including the spiritual betrothal and spiritual marriage.

The third, Alicja Lenczewska, who is almost totally unknown, also bore the stigmata, though they were not visible. This year marks the centenary of her birth. Thus, I would like to dedicate these brief reflections to her.

Although Alicja was born in Warsaw, she spent most of her life in Western Pomerania. Sacred Heart Parish in Szczecin was one of her favorite places, where she would go not only on Sundays but also on weekdays. It was there, in the Adoration Chapel, when she was already very mature in age, Alicja heard the words of Jesus: “this is the sanctuary of His Heart.” She was a part of Catholic Charismatic Renewal for several years.

Before Alicja’s conversion in 1985, her faith was very superficial. As she mentioned, “There were several years when I lived outside the Church, almost completely in clear contradiction to the commandments of God.” She persistently pursued the meaning of life, goodness, and beauty. “The longing for these pursued me through many countries for many years. But the time finally came when I increasingly felt the emptiness of such a life.” Her professional life was spent mainly as a teacher and associate-director of a school in the north-western part of the city.

The true turning point occurred during a religious retreat in Gostyń in 1985. As she later confessed, “Something happened there that completely changed my life.” On another occasion, she admitted, “Everything ceased to exist, there was only Him. His power, might, and immense presence grew larger as I became smaller beside Him.” “Everything I had longed for and chased after in the world for so many years, He gave to me.”

It was there that she received the supernatural grace of regular, mystical encounters with Jesus, during which she could ask specific questions and receive answers. This was a difficult path of maturation in faith and love, which was to conclude only with her death. The Lord instructed her to write down everything she heard from Him, and in this way, two spiritual diaries were eventually created: A Word of Instruction and Testimony.

Her mystical experience profoundly transformed Alicja’s life. Gradually but systematically, she desired to renounce everything that could distract her from Eternal Love. She sold her colour television and donated the proceeds to charity. She began to read the Holy Scriptures regularly, pray the rosary and the breviary, and fast on Wednesdays and Fridays on bread and water. Her regular confessor and spiritual director became Fr. Walter Rachwalik. As Alicja recorded, “the period of my groping in the dark ended.”

[In the country behind the Iron Curtain that was the People’s Republic of Poland at the turn of 1970s and 1980s, a colour television was a luxury item and thus hard to come by on the market. The wealthier typically owned a Soviet Rubin television, while the poorer could afford only a black-and-white Tv-set. My parents had one of those, and when the American series ‘Rich Man, Poor Man‘ was on, I had to go to my parents’ friends to watch it in color. Author’s note.]

Finally, the contents of Alicja`s conversations were printed as two separate books, and Bishop Henryk Wejman conferred the Imprimatur on both of them.

Even though Alicja Lenczewska comes from a country which Anglo-Celtic readers might see as off the beaten path, the very pages of this comprehensive record of spiritual communication deserve special attention.

On September 14, 1989, she wrote down in her notebook:

Everything is grace: some have the grace of health, others of suffering. Some enjoy the comforts of life, others face hardship. Some possess physical beauty, others experience disability. Some have intelligence, others developmental delays.” (A Word of Instruction, 21)

In her notes, Lenczewska exhorts us to develop perfect purity of heart. On May 2, 1991, she heard – When critical and negative thoughts arise in your heart, pray for the people they concern. Respond to each such thought with fervent prayer, and the temptation will vanish. […] Malice in your heart harms both you and the one it is directed towards.” (A Word of Instruction, 132)

Many contemporary individuals behave like gods. Driven by a lust for power and wealth, they are trying to decide who has the right to live and who does not. Their hearts are filled with hubris, selfishness, deceit, and hatred. Thus, in one of the mystical conversations, which took place on October 15, 1994, Jesus foretells the coming of the apocalypse, urging people to come to their senses.  Even Poland, formerly perceived as the bulwark of Christianity in Central-Eastern Europe, is now becoming extremely “woke.” May Poland stay Catholic, onto the end.

The apocalypse concerning the lives of individuals, even groups of people and entire communities, is no longer sufficient. A total apocalypse on a global scale is increasingly necessary to save souls and preserve the holy remnant as the seed of a new people.” (A Word of Instruction, 348)

“…Alicja, as a layperson, despite her earlier imperfections and later personal conversion, was able to serve God’s cause devotedly and plead for the atonement for sinners through her prayers and suffering. She thus became an apostle of Divine Mercy,” Bishop Henryk Wejman, of the University of Szczecin, stated in “The Concept of Lay Spirituality: An Analytical Study of the Writings of Alicja Lenczewska.”

“I spoke with one of the well-known Polish therapists, a very devout man, and he told me, ‘You know what, I don’t have major reservations about Alicja Lenczewska, because I’ve never had a patient come to my office with a neurosis related to her writings.’ Why did he say that? Because, as he himself says, unfortunately, he does have patients who come with neuroses after other private revelations.” – noted Dr Tomasz Terlikowski – Polish journalist, writer, Catholic activist.

In 1988, she became a member of the Family of the Heart of Crucified Love, within which community she made her perpetual vows on December 25, 2005.

“She was a reader of the Catholic bimonthly magazine ‘Love-one-another‘ and supported the Catholic works of Fr. Dr. Tadeusz Rydzyk, CSsR, namely Radio Maryja and TV Trwam, with her monetary contributions. She greatly enjoyed participating in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She organized and led pilgrimages to Italy, and the Holy Land.” recorded Fr. Mieczysław Piotrowski, SChr.

In 2010 her mystical communications ceased and Alicja fell seriously ill. She accepted her illness as a “gift from God” and maintained a cheerful disposition until the end, as those who accompanied her attested.

Alicja spent the last days of her earthly life in St. John`s hospice. This was her choice, as she did not want to burden her brother Sławomir and sister-in-law Dorota with her care. There she was also able to participate in the Eucharist daily.

A day before she was admitted, she broke her leg. The femur was so damaged by cancer that it broke into two parts. The incident occurred at 6 a.m., but she did not inform her sister-in-law by phone until 8 a.m. Then, her sister-in-law Dorota called an ambulance, which took her to the hospital. It is likely that she did not want to wake up the family and offered the associated suffering for some intention.

Alicja calmly passed away in 2012. Just before her death, she reportedly had a brief vision of the afterlife.  She uttered:

It is so beautiful there! I saw my parents. How He loves us! I was beyond time. I hear everything. I am dying happy.

There is a growing number of people visiting the mystic’s grave, located at the Central Cemetery of the city, to seek God`s graces for themselves and others. They come individually from various parts of Poland: priests, nuns, and laypeople.

In an interview in March 2024 with the Catholic weekly ‘Gość Niedzielny,’ Dorota Lenczewska said, “A comprehensive biography, a documentary film, and a website about Alicja Lenczewska are in the works. We are also collecting testimonies of graces received through her intercession. […] More and more people are phoning and writing, asking for prayers through Alicja’s intercession; others testify that reading her writings brings them closer to God, converting them after many years.”

“Alicja speaks to us in contemporary language. She is our friend, sister, mother, or grandmother – a witness to a deep relationship with Jesus. I think that’s why more and more people live her spirituality; informal prayer groups are forming. In Szczecin alone, there are several. […] It is the path of spiritual childhood – trust in Divine Mercy, like that walked by St. Thérèse of Lisieux or St. Faustina,” explained Fr. Marek Brożyna, SAC, in an interview for the Opoka internet portal, describing the mystic’s charism.

“Today, the widespread interest in Alicja Lenczewska’s texts indicates that this is already a great work, and I think it will become even greater. Speaking quite privately, I deeply believe that Alicja will be beatified one day,” admitted Fr. Mariusz Sokołowski, SChr.

This month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Along with the beautiful devotions which the Polish mystic so much loved and attended, it fits perfectly with the content of this article.

Alicja`s relatively late conversion and her life’s upheavals restore hope to all those who feel they have irretrievably lost time. They demonstrate that Jesus Christ can transform the heart and ignite it with the fire of His love, even when, humanly speaking, there seems to be little time left on this earth. Moreover, fulfilling God’s will does not necessarily require in every case having close relationship with someone—such as a spouse or children—but can be found in living alone, with a calling to love and serve another, leading a life of purpose and fulfillment in and through the “vocation to love,” as St. Thérèse put it.