Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe: Searchlight of our times

In 1906 when he accepted the white and red crowns offered by Mother Mary in a vision his martyrdom was confirmed.

Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe: Searchlight of our times

Born in Poland on 8 January 1894 to Julius Kolbe and Maria Dabrowska, Maximilian Maria Kolbe is the searchlight of our times.

In these dark nights of hatred plaguing the world this searchlight is turning into the dark corners of human hearts to show them the inhumanity hidden there.

In 1906 when he accepted the white and red crowns offered by Mother Mary in a vision his martyrdom was confirmed.

Maximilian and his elder brother joined the Conventual Franciscans in 1907.

In 1912 he was sent to the Jesuit managed Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome where he took a doctorate in philosophy and proved his brilliance.

In 1915 he further proved the great intellectual in him when he earned a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Bonaventure.

In 1918 he was ordained a priest and returned to the newly independent Poland in 1919.

An active Roman Catholic priest specially interested in communication and media, he established the largest media centre in his native Poland in 1927.

He called it the City of Mary Immaculate and housed various publications and a big radio station manned by 700 Franciscans.

To spread his media mission to take Jesus and Mother Mary to the ends of the earth, he went to Japan in 1930. On the outskirts of Nagasaki he established the City of Mary Immaculate which survived even the atom bomb.

To establish another city he proceeded to Malabar, India, in 1932 and landed at Alwaye (Aluva) of Kerala. Here internecine Rites rivalries prevented Maximilian Kolbe in establishing the City of Mary Immaculate and Kerala lost a great media centre.

Later he returned to his native Poland where on 17 February 1941 he was arrested by the Nazi Gestapo on suspicion of hiding the Jews. He was sent to the Concentration camp of Auschwitz.

When a prisoner escaped from the camp, ten were randomly chosen to die instead. Among the ten were Franciszek Gajowniczek who cried out: “My wife, my children.”

Maximilian Kolbe stepped forward and said: “Spare him. He has wife and children. I am a Catholic priest. I have no wife or children. I will die in his place.”

The Nazi Commandant agreed. On 14 August 1941, a Nazi doctor injected a deadly poison into Kolbe’s frail body causing him excruciatingly painful death.

When Maximilian Maria Kolbe was canonized on 10 October 1982 by fellow Pole John Paul II, there was present Auschwitz prisoner number 5659.

Pope came down from the podium and embraced 82-year-old Francis Gajowniczek.

Emotions burst out not only from the duo but also from the hundreds of thousands assembled at the Saint Peter’s square.

As papal flags and Poland’s national flags fluttered in the Vatican sky, Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe gazed all like an abiding searchlight for all times.

Polish Senate declared 2011 as the year of Maximilian Maria Kolbe.

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