St Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941) was born in Zduriska Wola, Poland. He was the second of five brothers. His father was an ethnic German and mother Polish. His father was hanged by the Russians for fighting for an independent Poland.
St Maximilian and his elder brother Francis joined the Franciscans; he made his final vows in 1914. He was awarded Doctorates in both Philosophy and Theology. In 1918, he was ordained a Priest and became active in promoting veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
When World War II broke out, St Maximilian sheltered many refugees including 2000 Jews from Nazi persecution but in 1941 he was arrested, imprisoned and transferred to Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
In July of the same year, three prisoners escaped from Auschwitz and the SS Camp Commander picked 10 men to be starved to death as a deterrent to others. When one of the selected men begged for mercy saying, “My wife, My Children…”, St Maximilian stepped in and took his place.
Every day while in his prison cell, awaiting death, he celebrated Mass, prayed and sang hymns with the other nine men. He was the last to die and to speed up his death, guards administered a lethal injection on the 14th August 2041; he didn’t resist. His body was incinerated the next day, the 15th August, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. He was 47 years old. In 1982, Pope Saint John Paul declared him, “The Patron Saint of our Difficult Century”.
St Maximilian’s Feast Day is the 14th August. He is the Patron Saint of prisoners and drug addicts.
St Maximilian Kolbe:
Help us to realise that when we cry out to the Lord because of our afflictions, He answers, just as He did for you.
Glory be to the…