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Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Born on January 8, 1894 in Poland Maximilian Mary Kolbe chose the place of a prisoner condemned to death in July 1941 in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Ordained at 24, this Conventual Franciscan was an intellectual and media giant.

Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Born on January 8, 1894 in Poland Maximilian Mary Kolbe chose the place of a prisoner condemned to death in July 1941 in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Ordained at 24, this Conventual Franciscan was an intellectual and media giant.

With twin doctorates in philosophy and theology and numerous writings and publications to his credit, this ardent devotee of Immaculate Mother does fit into the description. He set up townships of publications like the “City of the Immaculata” in Poland with 700 Franciscans and another one in Nagasaki, Japan.  He had come to Kerala in India and stayed with a Syrian rite archbishop. 

When three prisoners escaped from the concentration camp, the commander decided that ten must die instead and one of them was Franciszek Gajowniczek a fellow Pole, who cried out to spare him because he had wife and children. Hearing this Kolbe volunteered and said: “I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place because he has wife and children.” 

On August 14, 1941, he was killed by a deadly injection by a Nazi doctor. For his canonization on October 10, 1982, by fellow Pole Pope John Paul II, Franciszek Gajowniczek who survived more than five years of ordeal in Auswitz, was present with a grateful heart when the pope said: “Maximilian did not die but gave his life ...for his brother”.  

“Hero of Auschwitz: The Life of St. Maximilian Kolbe” is a movie on his life. Kolbe is one of the ten 20th century martyrs whose statues adorn the Westminster Abbey, London.

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