Maximilian Kolbe was born in 1894 in Poland. In 1907, when he was only 13 years old, Maximillian, along with his brother, joined the Conventual Franciscans. Maximilian always had a special devotion to the Virgin Mary; he had childhood visions of Mary inviting him to a life of purity and martyrdom. He effectively used the new modern media to spread the Good News in an age of hostility, starting a newspaper and a magazine and even producing an amateur radio show. He also founded a mission near Nagasaki, Japan, which miraculously survived the atomic blast. Kolbe was arrested by the Nazis in 1941 for serving and sheltering Jews at his monastery. He died at Auschwitz the same year, having volunteered himself to take the place of a stranger who had a wife and children. He was locked in an underground bunker with nine other men and given no food or water, but Kolbe led his fellow prisoners in song and prayer. After two weeks, he was the only one left alive and was given a lethal injection of carbolic acid. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
Questions for Reflection:
- What moments in your own childhood had a profound impact on your life? In what memories did the seed of your faith take root?
- St. Maximilian performed a grand act of heroism most of us won’t get the chance to perform in our lifetimes. What are some small acts of heroism that you can perform to exemplify the love of God?