St. Maximillian Kolbe

 

Feast Day – August 14

Patron Saint of families, prisoners, pro-life movement, journalists

 

St. Maximillian Kolbe is one of our more modern day saints since he lived and died in the past hundred years.  Born in 1894 in Poland when it was occupied by Russia, he entered the seminary at 16 and was ordained a priest in 1918.  After studying in Rome during his time in the seminary, he was inspired to begin publishing a magazine called “The Knight of the Immaculata.”  Expanding beyond his small friary, he founded a new monastery and published more magazines, papers and even began a radio program.

His missionary work led him to Japan and India until, at the age of 42, due to poor health, he had to return to Poland and his home monastery to live with his nearly 800 priests and monks.  The 1940’s in Poland was a turbulent time and he was ultimately arrested by the Nazis for spreading the Catholic faith.  He was sent to a concentration camp at Auschwitz, where he continued ministering to the suffering imprisoned there.

When one prisoner escaped from the camp, the Nazis chose 10 men to be executed in place of the escaped.  Fr. Maximillian Kolbe exchanged his life for the life of a young father who was among the chosen to be executed.

The Nazis starved and  neglected Kolbe and the other prisoners for weeks.  He was the only prisoner still alive after weeks of this treatment.  When the Nazis wished to clear the bunker, Kolbe raised his arm for the lethal injection of carbonic acid and died on August 14 of 1941.

 

Maximillian Kolbe loved the Lord so much that he gave his life in place of another willingly, knowing that his Lord was in charge of his life.  May we too be self-sacrificial in our daily lives, giving of ourselves even to the end of each day.

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