Saint Maximilian Kolbe – Ever heard of him? We will see what is so special about him that he was canonized on 10th October 1982. He is also known as Maksymilian or Massimiliano Maria Kolbe and “Apostle of Consecration to Mary,” while he was born with the name Rajmund Kolbe.
Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in Poland.
During the Second World War he provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary in Niepokalanów. He was also active as a radio amateur, with Polish call letters SP3RN, vilifying Nazi activities through his reports.On 17 February 1941 he was arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison, and on May 28 he was transferred to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670.
In July 1941 a man from Kolbe’s barracks vanished, prompting SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch, the deputy camp commander, to pick 10 men from the same barracks to be starved to death in Block 13 (notorious for torture), in order to deter further escape attempts (the man who had disappeared was later found drowned in the camp latrine). One of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, lamenting his family, and Kolbe volunteered to take his place.
During the time in the cell he led the men in songs and prayer. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe and three others were still alive. He encouraged others that they would soon be with Mary in Heaven. Each time the guards checked on him he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered.
When the remaining men had died and Kolbe was the last remaining he was killed with an injection of carbolic acid. Some who were present at the injection say that he raised his left arm and calmly waited for the injection. His remains were cremated on the Assumption of Mary (August, 15).
Father Kolbe was beatified as a confessor by Pope Paul VI in 1971 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on 10 October 1982 in the presence of Franciszek Gajowniczek. Upon canonization, the Pope declared St. Maximilian Kolbe not a confessor, but a martyr. St. Maximilian’s beatification miracle was the July 1948 cure of intestinal tuberculosis in Angela Testoni, and in August 1950, the cure of calcification of the arteries/sclerosis of Francis Ranier was attributed to the intercession of St. Maximilian.
The Immaculata prayer by Saint Maximillian Kolbe