Today, we’re celebrating the man Pope John Paul II called, “the patron of our difficult century.” Today is the Feast Day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. Venerated throughout the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches, Saint Kolbe was truly a Saint for modern times who ultimately gave his life, in the name of God, to save another.
- Saint Kolbe had a vision of the Virgin Mary as when he was 12 years old! Known as a troublemaker, Saint Kolbe received a message from Our Lady that changed the course of his life forever,
- “I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.” – Saint Maximilian
- The Monastery he built in Nagasaki, Japan, survived the atomic bomb. After taking his vows, Saint Kolbe went to East Asia for missionary work, eventually settling in Japan. According to local shinto beliefs, Saint Kolbe built a monastery on the side of a mountain ill-suited for harmony with nature. However, when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, the mountain absorbed most of the blast, leaving the monastery unharmed. It still sits there to this day as a prominent fixture in the Roman Catholic Church of Japan.
- His monastery in Niepokalanów, Poland housed 2000 Jewish refugees, hiding from German persecution during World War II. After moving back to Poland and opening a new monastery, Saint Kolbe assisted Jews fleeing the Nazi regime. After refusing to sign the German Deutsche Volksliste, he got permission to continue his religious publication and instead created anti-Nazi literature.
- After he was captured and subsequently released by Nazi invaders, Saint Kolbe went right back to work rather than flee to safety. He continued his work until the monastery was shut down permanently in 1941 at which point Saint Kolbe and several others were shipped to Auschwitz.
- He volunteered to take the place of another prisoner who was condemned to death. When 3 prisoners disappeared from the camp, the German SS officer ordered that 10 people be put to death by starvation. When one of the prisoners called out “My wife! My children!”, Saint Kolbe stepped in and and took his place. He prayed with each prisoner until he was the only one who remained alive. When the Warden called for the clearing of his cell, Saint Kolbe was given a lethal injection.
As the patron saint of drug addicts, families, imprisoned people, journalists, political prisoners, prisoners, and the pro-life movement, Saint Kolbe is made the ultimate sacrifice, saving the lives of many others and bringing countless people closer to God.