Note: This is part of a new serial fiction series focusing on the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe, following the life of a fictional character as he encounters the saint. New chapters are released every Sunday! For previous chapter(s), click here.
Piotr was shocked by the friary’s new appearance.
A little less than a week ago, their City of the Immaculate was practically in ruins, with statues torn down, windows smashed, and most of their printing equipment carried away. The scene was devastating, and Piotr was tempted to lose all hope.
What saved them was Father Maximilian’s faith and optimism. He did not see a looted monastery, but an opportunity to serve the Immaculata, bringing glory to her son, Jesus Christ.
In the span of a week they were able to repair their farm equipment and return to working order their machine shop, bicycle repair, a garage, woodworking and carpentry enterprises, watch repair and clock making, and even a photographer’s shop.
Father Maximilian even expanded the monastery’s operations, not only working for their own purposes, but serving the needs of the local community. He even added a cheese factory at the request of the local Nazi soldiers!
The Nazis and their oppressive regime could not dampen the spirit of Father Maximilian.
The thing that truly baffled Piotr was how Father Maximilian would cooperate with the government at times, but then also openly disobey them!
After working one day, one of the Gestapo secret policeman approached Piotr and began interrogating him, pointing to a piece of paper he held in his hands.
“There are too many religious brothers living here! You are not permitted to have more than 70 friars! The rest must be gone by the morning, or else we will deal with the situation and ensure you do not exceed the capacity given to you!”
“Give this order to your superior immediately!”
The Gestapo shoved the piece of paper into Piotr’s hands, marching off with military precision.
Piotr’s hands were trembling as he looked down at the order, written entirely in German. It clearly stated that only 70 friars were permitted to live at the monastery and each had to be registered with the government.
What would happen to the rest of the friars? They had nearly 400 religious brothers living there at the time.
There were rumors that many in Poland were being sent off to “labor” camps, though no one ever returned to testify to what really went on at these hidden locations.
As Piotr was looking at this piece of paper, Father Maximilian approached and asked him what the Gestapo wanted.
“What do you have there, Piotr? What did the Gestapo send us this time?”
“Father Maximilian, he said we are only permitted to have 70 friars living here. If they don’t leave by tomorrow morning, the Nazis will come back and take the rest away!”
Father Maximilian paused and stroked his long beard, thinking intently about what to say. Then he closed his eyes and motioned with his head upwards, mumbling something under his breath. Was he praying?
After a few minutes of silence, Father Maximilian spoke with a smile.
“Do not be afraid, dear brother Piotr! The Immaculata will protect us! I know exactly what to do. When they come tomorrow, send them to me and I will ensure not a single soul is sent away!”
The next morning the Gestapo came bright and early, this time with about a dozen soldiers. Each had weapons drawn and were looking fierce and menacing.
This wasn’t going to be good.
Piotr saw them from a distance and ran to get Father Maximilian, who was kneeling inside their chapel.
“Father, they are here!”
Father Maximilian jumped to his feet and ran outside to intercept the Gestapo, who were closely examining every building.
“My dear friends!” shouted Father Maximilian. “Come, follow me and I will show you something!”
The Gestapo leader looked annoyed, but followed Father Maximilian as he led him through the City of the Immaculate.
The group stopped at one of their buildings which had a large Red Cross at the top. Father Maximilian motioned for the Gestapo to enter.
As they went through the doorway, friars were everywhere, tending to the needs of nearly 50 Nazi soldiers and German civilians.
“Sir, as you may already know, recently your commander entrusted to us these soldiers and German civilians. We are working around the clock to tend to their medical needs. Each one of our friars is essential. If you take any of my brothers away, Nazi soldiers may die.”
The Gestapo leader was alarmed by this statement and pressed in closer to Father Maximilian, pressing his finger to his chest.
“You will NOT let a single Nazi die under your care! Do you understand?!”
He backed away from Father Maximilian and signaled to his men to leave.
“We are watching you closely, Catholic priest! One wrong move and your entire operation will be seized and each one of your friars will be sent away!”
The Gestapo stormed out of the medical center and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Piotr rushed over to Father Maximilian, shocked that the Nazis let them exceed their permitted capacity.
“Father Maximilian, how were you certain that the Gestapo wouldn’t take over the medical center and send everyone away?”
“I didn’t!” exclaimed Father Maximilian. “Yesterday I felt a great peace in my heart from the Immaculata. I knew we would be saved somehow!”
Piotr was dumbfounded. Father Maximilian’s faith in the Virgin Mary was so complete, no situation was impossible.
“Come Piotr,” motioned Father Maximilian. “I need help distributing these Miraculous Medals to the wounded German soldiers. May we never forget, they have souls, too!”
Come back next Sunday for the next chapter!