Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe OFM Conv
Franciscan Friar (8 January 1894 – 14 August 1941) - from Poland
Beatified on 17 October 1971 by Pope Paul VI
Canonized as a martyr of charity on 10 October 1982 by Blessed John Paul II who declared him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century".
Patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, and the pro-life movement.
Feast Day - 14th August
"The words of Jesus, quoted by Pope John Paul II at his canonisation, are what come to mind "Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends." St Maximilian, aided by the prayers and his love for Our Lady, gave himself completely, totally, as she did, up to the point of the Cross, so that another man may live, may go home and look after his wife and his family. This man, this priest, St Maximilian Kolbe, was called by Pope John Paul II 'the Patron Saint of our difficult century'. Where so much innocent life was taken through communism and nazism, he stood for the Gospel, for the gospel of life, as a witness. In our age, we, especially men, should be challenged by his life of commitment, of sacrifice, of saying yes to God totally, of being a man for others.'
Gavin, 25 & a seminarian from England, chose Maximilian Kolbe as his Incredible Saint: "Maximilian Kolbe was a fantastic man who was a Franciscan priest and it was his passion to spread the Good News throughout the world. This saw him setting up a printing press in Poland and going as far as Japan to spread the Good News of the Gospel... He always had a massive passion for Our Lady as well and took her role as true disciple to heart. Father Maximilian Kolbe was a man who, through his passion for the Gospel, gave his life for another man in Auschwitz." ♦
Daniel, 1 of the Totus2us team & a seminarian from England, chose St Maximilian as his Man for Others: "There's a great story that when these men and Maximilian were in the starvation cell he would sing hymns and get them to sing along so that their faith and courage wouldn't fail. All the other men died before Maximilian and the Nazis grew tired of waiting for him to die of starvation that they had to come in and inject him with a lethal poison so that he would die. It's amazing to me to know that his faith and his courage, his spirits, his belief in God kept him alive, even without food, without water, he was kept alive by his faith. .. What strikes me about Maximilian: his life of saying 'yes' to God; it cost him his life but in doing that he followed the way of our Saviour, Jesus." ♦
O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property.
Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you. If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: "She will crush your head," and "You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world." Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin
R. Give me strength against your enemies. Amen.
Those who pray never lose hope, even when they find themselves in a difficult and even humanly hopeless plight. Sacred Scripture teaches us this and Church history bears witness to this.
In fact, how many examples we could cite of situations in which it was precisely prayer that sustained the journey of Saints and of the Christian people! Among the testimonies of our epoch I would like to mention the examples of two Saints whom we are commemorating in these days: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, whose feast we celebrated on 9 August, and Maximilian Mary Kolbe, whom we will commemorate tomorrow, on 14 August, the eve of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Both ended their earthly life with martyrdom in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Their lives might seem to have been a defeat, but it is precisely in their martyrdom that the brightness of Love which dispels the gloom of selfishness and hatred shines forth. The following words are attributed to St Maximilian Kolbe, who is said to have spoken them when the Nazi persecution was raging: "Hatred is not a creative force: only love is creative." And heroic proof of his love was the generous offering he made of himself in exchange for a fellow prisoner, an offer that culminated in his death in the starvation bunker on 14 August 1941.
.. "Hail Mary!" was the last prayer on the lips of St Maximilian Mary Kolbe, as he offered his arm to the person who was about to kill him with an injection of phenolic acid. It is moving to note how humble and trusting recourse to Our Lady is always a source of courage and serenity. While we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption, which is one of the best-loved Marian feasts in the Christian tradition, let us renew our entrustment to her who from Heaven watches over us with motherly love at every moment. In fact, we say this in the familiar prayer of the Hail Mary, asking her to pray for us "now and at the hour of our death".
BXVI - General Audience, 13 August 2008 - © Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana