Ordinary Time: August 14th
Memorial of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
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St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941) was born in Zdunska Wola, Poland as Raymond Kolbe. He consecrated himself to the Lord in the Franciscan Order. Filled with love for the Virgin, he founded the Militia of the Immaculate Mary and, with his preaching and writing, undertook an intense apostolic mission in Europe and Asia. Imprisoned in Auschwitz during the Second World War, he offered himself in exchange for the father of a large family who was to be executed. He was given a lethal injection when he failed to die fast enough from starvation in the concentration camp. Pope St. John Paul II proclaimed him the "Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century."
St. Maximillian Kolbe
St. Maximilian, born Raymond Kolbe in Poland, Jan. 8, 1894. In 1910, he entered the Conventual Franciscan Order. He was sent to study in Rome where he was ordained a priest in 1918.
Father Maximilian returned to Poland in 1919 and began spreading his Militia of the Immaculata movement of Marian consecration (whose members are also called MIs), which he founded on October 16, 1917. In 1927, he established an evangelization center near Warsaw called Niepokalanow, the "City of the Immaculata." By 1939, the City had expanded from eighteen friars to an incredible 650, making it the largest Catholic religious house in the world.
To better "win the world for the Immaculata," the friars utilized the most modern printing and administrative techniques. This enabled them to publish countless catechetical and devotional tracts, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000 and a monthly magazine with a circulation of over one million. Maximilian started a shortwave radio station and planned to build a motion picture studio—he was a true "apostle of the mass media." He established a City of the Immaculata in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1930, and envisioned missionary centers worldwide.
Maximilian was a ground-breaking theologian. His insights into the Immaculate Conception anticipated the Marian theology of the Second Vatican Council and further developed the Church's understanding of Mary as "Mediatrix" of all the graces of the Trinity, and as "Advocate" for God's people.
In 1941, the Nazis imprisoned Father Maximilian in the Auschwitz death camp. There he offered his life for another prisoner and was condemned to slow death in a starvation bunker. On August 14, 1941, his impatient captors ended his life with a fatal injection. Pope John Paul II canonized Maximilian as a "martyr of charity" in 1982. St. Maximilian Kolbe is considered a patron of journalists, families, prisoners, the pro-life movement and the chemically addicted.
—Militia of the Immaculata
Patronage: Drug addiction; drug addicts; families; imprisoned people; journalists; political prisoners; prisoners; pro-life movement.
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read from the Catholic Culture library:
- The Holy Spirit and Mary, an explanation of St. Maximillian's Marian theology
- Maximillian Kolbe, Apostle of Mary by Fr. John Hardon
- Pope Benedict XVI's General Audience on St. Maximilian and St. Edith Stein
- Learn more about St. Maximilian:
- Watch to the Catholic Culture podcast 120—Maximilian Kolbe in Japan—Kevin Doak interviewed by Thomas Mirus
- Try some food ideas from Catholic Cuisine.
- Offer a Mass, say a rosary for those who suffer in the world today from man's inhumanity. Pray for an end to abortion, our nation's own holocaust. Read about Auschwitz and ponder the modern gas chambers in every state of our Union and resolve to do all that you can to end the killing.