Spirituality for Today – Summer 2019 – Volume 23, Issue 4

Saint for August 2019
Maximilian Kolbe – August 14

Maximilian Kolbe was named Raimund when he was born in 1894. He came from a deeply religious family, and when he was 10 years old, Raimund had a vision that foretold his life. The Virgin Mother appeared to the youngster and told him to choose between the two garlands she offered him. One represented virtue, the other martyrdom. Raimund declared he wanted both.

Joining the Franciscans in 1910, he took the name Maximilian. A bright student, he went to Rome to further is studies, where his special relationship with Mary deepened. In 1917, Maximilian and six other monks founded the Militia Immaculata, an organization dedicated to spreading Catholicism in Mary's name. The members became known as Knights of the Immaculata.

Despite his ill-health from tuberculosis, Maximilian expanded the Militia. Back in Poland in 1922, he began to publish a magazine that promoted traditional Catholic values. Five years later, Maximilian founded the town of Niepokalanow, meaning "city of Mary the Immaculate". The town became the base for a media empire, which eventually included a daily newspaper and a radio station. In 1931, Maximilian went to Japan and founded another city dedicated to Mary.

When Germany invaded Poland, the Nazis targeted not only Jews but also Catholic leaders and other groups. Maximilian spent several months in detention camps, was briefly released, then was arrested again in 1941 and sent to Auschwitz. Ultimately, Maximilian offered his life in place of another prisoner, and after being starved for two weeks, he was killed by lethal injection on August 14.

O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth,
refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother,
God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you.
I, a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet,
Humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have,
wholly to yourself as our possession and property.
Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body,
of my whole life, death and eternity whatever most pleases you.

From A Calendar of Saints
The Lives of the Principal Saints of the Christian Year