August 14, 2022
Via Franciscan Friars:
Today we celebrate the Feast day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, OFM. This great saint died in Auschwitz on this date in 1941. Born in Poland in 1894, Kolbe became a Fransican friar early in his life, and was involved in missionary work in Asia, even establishing monasteries in Japan and India. At the age of 12, Saint Maximilian had a vision of the Virgin Mary, this vision influenced his great love for Mary.
When World War II broke out, he was in Poland, and chose to remain in his monastery, where he organized a hospital and published religious texts, including ones critical of the Nazi Party. Arrested in February 1941, he spent several months in Auschwitz, where he was often beaten and subject to harassment. In the summer, after ten prisoners escaped the camp, guards chose ten other men to be starved to death. Kolbe heard one of the men crying out, “My wife! My children!” and volunteered to take his place. Kolbe endured two weeks of dehydration and starvation, and whenever the guards came to check on him, they found him in prayer. He died on August 14th, 1941 and canonized as a saint by Pope John Paul II on 10 October 1982. Upon canonization, the Pope declared St. Maximilian Kolbe not a confessor, but a martyr of charity. The man whose life he saved was present at his canonization.
He is the patron saint of those fighting a drug addicts, prisoners, and the pro-life movement.