About Saint Maximilian Kolbe

The patron saint of Mary’s Missionaries is St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe. The inspiration comes from his devout trust and faith in the Immaculate Heart of Mary and his unique Mariology and apostolic mission, which is to bring all souls to the Sacred Heart of Christ through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Christ's most pure, efficient, and holy instrument of evangelization.[1] It is through this same breath and fire of devotion that, we too, Good Counsel Homes, direct our prayer campaign for the moms and babies under our care to be guided by Christ through the grace of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Kolbe was born in 1894 in Poland with the name Raymond. In 1910 when he entered the novitiate Kolbe was given the religious name Maximilian. He professed his first vows in 1911, and final vows in 1914, adopting the additional name of Maria (Mary).[2,3] He contracted tuberculosis and, though he recovered, he remained frail all his life. Before his ordination as a priest, Maximilian founded the Immaculata Movement devoted to Our Lady. After receiving a doctorate in theology, he spread the Movement through a magazine entitled "The Knight of the Immaculata" and helped form a community of 800 men, the largest in the world at that time. [4]

Before being ordained a priest in 1918, Kolbe became a Polish Franciscan friar. In July 1919 he returned to the newly independent Poland, where he was active in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.[5] Kolbe went to Japan in 1931 and founded a monastery on the outskirts of Nagasaki. Kolbe built the monastery on a mountainside that, according to Shinto beliefs, was not the side best suited to be in harmony with nature. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Kolbe's monastery was saved because the other side of the mountain took the main force of the blast.[6] He later left Japan for India where he nurtured the Immaculata Movement. In 1936 he returned home to Poland because of poor health. After the outbreak of WWII and before his arrest, Kolbe and other friar monks provided shelter to over a thousand Jewish refugees from Greater Poland.[7]

After the Nazi invasion in 1939, he was imprisoned and released for a time. In 1941 he was arrested again and sent to a concentration camp. While in the German-occupied Auschwitz camp, Kolbe volunteered to die in place of a stranger. During his last few weeks in imprisonment, he endured starvation, thirst, and neglect.

During his active life as priest and missionary, Kolbe promoted the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, founded and supervised the monastery of Niepokalanów near Warsaw, operated a radio station, and ran or founded several other organizations and publications. Kolbe is known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary[8] because of his efforts to promote and consecrate trust in Mary. He died on August 14th and his remains were cremated on August 15th, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary.[9]

Kolbe was canonized on October 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and declared a martyr of charity. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, and the pro-life movement.[10] John Paul II declared him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century".[11] His feast day is August 14th.

References:

[1] "O.F.M.I. Friars". Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
[2] Saints Index; Catholic Forum.com, Saint Maximilian Kolbe
[3] Czesław Lechicki, Kolbe Rajmund, Polski Słownik Biograficzny, Tom XIII, 1968, p. 296
[4] Catholic Online, www.catholic.org/saints.
[5] Czesław Lechicki, Kolbe Rajmund, Polski Słownik Biograficzny, Tom XIII, 1968, p. 296
[6] Hepburn, Steven. "Maximilian Kolbe's story shows us why sainthood is still meaningful". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
[7] "Scholars Reject Charge St. Maximilian Was Anti-semitic". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
[8] Armstrong, Regis J.; Peterson, Ingrid J. (2010). The Franciscan Tradition. Liturgical Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-8146-3922-1.
[9] Czesław Lechicki, Kolbe Rajmund, Polski Słownik Biograficzny, Tom XIII, 1968, p. 297
[10] Armstrong, Regis J.; Peterson, Ingrid J. (2010). The Franciscan Tradition. Liturgical Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-8146-3922-1.
[11] "Holy Mass at the Brzezinka Concentration Camp". Vatican. Retrieved 10 October 2012.