Sunday, August 14, 2011

70th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of St Maximilian Kolbe

“St. Maximilian did not die, rather he gave his life…”
– Blessed John Paul II, 1982

On September 1, 1939, the Second World War began. Niepokalanów, the City of the Immaculate, founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, was also bombed and sacked. The Friars had to abandon it. The buildings were used as the first place to receive refugees and soldiers.
On February 17, 1941, the Gestapo arrived at Niepokalanów, and Father Kolbe and 4 other confreres were arrested and incarcerated in the Pawiak prison in Warsaw. It was in this place that we have the famous moment of his heroic profession of faith, where he was beaten to the point of passing out, simply because he said he believes in Jesus Christ, whose image was attached to the rosary hanging on his cord.
On May 28 of that same year, he was deported to the Nazi Extermination Camp at Auschwitz, in the city of Oświęcim, in southern Poland. Here he was assigned the number 16670.
After the escape of a prisoner, the Commandant Fritsch, in retaliation, decided to choose ten men from the same block, condemning them to death by starvation in the underground death bunker.
To the surprise of all of the prisoners, and the Nazis as well, Friar Maximilian came forward from the line, and offered to substitute himself for one of the condemned, a young Polish Sergeant, Francis Gajowniczek.
In this unexpected way, the heroic Friar Maximilian descended, with the other nine, into the underground bunker, where, one after another, they died, consoled, assisted, and blessed by the Saint.
On August 14, 1941, Father Kolbe’s own life was ended by an injection of phenol acid.
The following day, his body was burnt in the crematory furnace, and his ashes were tossed to the wind.
On October 10, 1982, in St. Peter’s Square, John Paul II, declared Father Kolbe, a Saint.

The year 2011 is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Martyrdom of St Maximilian Kolbe.

Let us accept with fullness of heart, the Ideal – the Immaculate, so loved by him, and presented to us as the most secure way to the Lord – for us, and for this, we have been sent.

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