Feast of St Maximilian Kolbe

Fr Paul reads Matthew’s Gospel (19: 3-12) in which the Pharisees test Jesus. He then shares a little bit about the life of St Maximilian Kolbe, whose memorial we celebrate today.

Maximilian was born in Poland on 8 January 1894.  In 1910, he joined the Franciscans and he was ordained eight years later.  At the time of his ordination, Poland became free and independent again for the first time in over 120 years.  Maximilian believed the world was passing through a time of intense spiritual crisis and that Christians needed to harness new and emerging forms of communication and so he founded a newspaper.

In 1927, he founded a community at Teresin, which published many works and established its own radio station.

In 1930, Maximilian went to Japan where he studied Buddhism and Shintoism and had a Japanese edition of his newspaper to help spread the Christian message.  For health reasons he returned to Poland in 1936.

In 1939, the Germans invaded Poland and, at the time, his community at Teresin sheltered thousands of refugees, most of them Jews.

In 1941, Maximilian was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. While incarcerated there, he set about helping those in need.  In August of that year, a prisoner escaped. As a reprisal for that escape, ten prisoners were chosen to starve to death.  One of the ten had a family and so Maximilian offered to take his place. The offer was accepted and Maximilian spent his last days comforting the prisoners, who were starving alongside him.

Fr Paul says, it is beautiful to note that on the day of his canonisation (10 October 1982), the man that he saved that day at Auschwitz was present to see Maximilian become a saint.

Today, as we remember the life of Maximilian Kolbe and pray for him, Fr Paul invites us to ask him to intercede for us with our prayers and our needs at this time.