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 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 his 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.
The National Shrine of Saint Maximilian Kolbe is located at “Marytown,” the popular name of the friary of the Conventual Franciscan Friars in Libertyville, Illinois. The shrine includes a beautiful adoration chapel, Holocaust exhibit and memorial, and relics of Saint Maximilian Kolbe.
“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.”—Saint Maximilian Kolbe
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,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here