Conventual Franciscan Priest and Martyr (1894-1942)
+ Born in Poland, Maximilian became a Conventual Franciscan in 1910 and was ordained a priest in 1918.
+ His devotion to the Blessed Virgin inspired him to establish a sodality which he called the Militia of Mary Immaculate and he promoted its growth throughout Poland and other parts of the world, including Japan where he served as a missionary.
+ Returning to Poland, Maximilian was imprisoned in 1941 for his opposition to the Nazis. Subjected to severe physical and psychological abuse, he was eventually transferred to Auschwitz in May 1942.
+ Despite the harsh conditions, he was able to continue to priestly ministry of hearing confessions and saying Mass (with smuggled bread and wine).
+ His life of sacrifice was brought to completion when he volunteered to take the place of a condemned man—a husband and father—who was to be executed. Honored a “martyr of charity,” Maximilian was executed by lethal injection on August 14, 1942.
+ Saint Maximilian Kolbe was canonized in 1982. He is honored as the patron saint of media communications and of drug addicts.
For prayer and reflection
“God is worthy of glory beyond measure, and therefore it is of absolute and supreme importance to seek that glory with all the power of our feeble resources.”—Saint Maximilian Kolbe
On August 14, we also remember Saint Antony Primaldo and his companions. Antony was an elderly artisan in Otranto, Italy. In 1480, the city was invaded by Turkish soldiers who offered the inhabitants a choice: deny their faith in Christ or face death. Because they remained firm in their faith, Antony and 812 other companions (whose names have been lost) were martyred on August 13, 1480. Saint Antony Primaldo and the Martyrs of Otranto were canonized in 2013.
O God, who filled the Priest and Martyr Saint Maximilian Kolbe
with a burning love for the Immaculate Virgin Mary
and with zeal for souls and love of neighbor,
graciously grant, through his intercession,
that, striving for your glory by eagerly serving others,
we may be conformed, even until death, to your Son.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.