Saint Maximilian Kolbe
Feast Day: August 14
Political prisoners, families, journalists and those with temptations to take illicit drugs.
MAXIMILIAN KOLBE came from a background of patriotic resistance. His father was hung by the Russians in 1914 for opposing their occupation of his country, Poland.
Our Saint was born in 1894 and became a Franciscan friar, so completely dedicated to Our Lady, that he founded the Militia of the Immaculata to convert sinners, heretics and especislly the enemies of the Church.
In 1936 he was made superior of Niepokalanow monastery, which housed more than 700 friars. Despite suffering recurrent bouts of tuberculosis, Maximilian poured his energies into fighting the rise of Nazism through militant journalism. Believing that Christian apathy would allow totalitarian regimes, both in Germany and the Soviet Union, to overrun Christian Europe, he strove to galvanize Christians to act on their principles. With the help of his fellow brethren he founded a weekly journal of Christian discourses and news.
After the German invasion of Poland brought about the closure of his monastery and its conversion to a refugee camp, Kolbe continued to turn out his journal, unafraid of criticizing the Third Reich or speaking out for independence. He refused German citizenship and was eventually arrested as an "intellectual" in 1941.
INTERNMENT AT AUSCHWITZ
Kolbe was forced to do hard labor, moving logs at speed and being beaten when tiring. Despite the extreme conditions he kept up morale and maintained his priestly duties by smuggling in bread and wine to celebrate Mass.
Attempts to escape from the camp were punished in a way known to all internees. Men from the same bunker as the escapees would be randomly selected for death by starvation. Following one such attempt, all prisoners from the particular bunker were paraded in preparation for the death sentences. One man from each line would have to die.
When the sentence was delivered to a captured Polish sergeant who had a wife and two children, Kolbe stepped forward and asked to take his place. The Nazi officer accepted the request and sent him, together with nine others, to the death chamber. An assistant to the janitor recorded for posterity Kolbe's peaceful demeanor, of how he continued his priestly function in preparing his fellow victims for death by saying prayers and psalms, which, by the end, were whispered for lack of strength. One by one they died until the only survivor was Kolbe, who was then administered a lethal injection, the same year, 1941.
In 1982 Pope, John Paul II, whose former diocese of Cracow included Auschwitz, canonized Maximilian Kolbe. Present at the ceremony was the Polish sergeant whose life he had saved.
PRAYER TO ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE
O Lord Jesus Christ Who said, "greater love than this no man has that a man lay down his life for his friends," through the intcrcession of St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose life illustrated such love, we beseech Thee to grant us our petitions . . . (here mention the requests you have).
Through the Knights of the Immaculata movement, which he founded, St. Maximilian spread a fervent devotion to Our Lady throughout the world. He gave up his life for a total stranger and loved his persecutors, giving us an example of un selfish love for all men----a love which was inspired by true devotion to Mary.
Grant O Lord Jesus, that we too may give ourselves entirely without reserve to the love and service of our Heavenly Queen in order to better love and serve our fellowman in imitation of Thy humble servant, Saint Maximilian. Amen.
Three Hail Marys and a Glory Be . . .