1941, Auschwitz. A prisoner offers his life in place of a stranger sentenced to death iretaliation for the escape of another prisoner. Thus he was locked in a bunker until he died of hunger. Thus he died a martyr.
Saint John Paul II said of him that “he did like Jesus, he did not suffer death, but gave his life.”
Shortly before the invasion of Poland, Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe had written: «To suffer, to work and to die as knights … sealing our love to the Immaculate, spilling as true knights our own blood to the last drop, to hasten the conquest of the whole world for Her. I know of nothing more sublime.
The Immaculate has chosen me
Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe was born in 1894 in Poland. At the age of 12, little Raimundo (his baptismal name) had had a vision in which Mary gave him a white and a red crown, a symbiosis of purity and martyrdom.
In September 1910 he dressed in the Franciscan sackcloth and took the name of Maximilian Mary. A year later he made his simple profession and went to Rome to study and prepare for the priesthood.
There it becomes clear to him the need to fight against the evils that affect the world. Look for the most suitable means:
- A perfect devotion to the Immaculate Virgin.
- The use of the means of social communication to make Mary known and loved.
The return of lost humanity to the Divine Heart of Jesus will be made through the Virgin Mary. He liked to repeat: “Truly Your very presence attracts the graces that convert and sanctify souls.”
His slogan: win the whole world to the Immaculate to offer it to Christ. In 1917 he founded the Militia of the Immaculata.
A Current and Urgent Message
The indifference that corrodes the world alarms him. «There are still so many lost, seduced, unhappy souls, slaves of the devil, who groan … and seek happiness where it does not exist and where they cannot find it …»
Ordained a priest in 1918, he began his Marian apostolate in Poland. In 1922 he published the first issue of a newsletter “The Knight of the Immaculata”, which reached one million copies in 1938. He managed to get his own linotype.
In 1927 he founded Niepokalanów (City of the Immaculate), the centre of religious life and various forms of apostolate. In a time of vocational crisis, living the Gospel without gloss attracts a multitude of vocations to him. In 1930 he traveled to Japan as a missionary and established a similar institution.
Progress and contemplation
He returned to Poland in 1936. He published a series of religious magazines and began to broadcast on the radio. The Second World War surprises him at the head of the largest publishing complex in Poland.
However, he does not neglect his own sanctification or that of his brothers:
“The true progress of Niepokalanów lies in our growth in the love of God; in constantly approaching the Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate … May, more and more, be the property of the Immaculate.”
In February 1941 he was arrested and interned in the Auschwitz concentration camp. There he made the heroic offering of his life.
On August 14, 1941, the eve of the Assumption, he gave his soul to God. Before he had confessed and seen his companions die one after another.
Act of consecration to the Immaculate from Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe
«O Immaculate, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners, and our most loving Mother to Whom God wanted to entrust all the economy of mercy, I …, unworthy sinner, I prostrate at your feet humbly begging You to accept me totally as your thing and property, and do what You want with me and with all the faculties of my soul and my body, of my life, death and eternity. Also, if You wish, dispose of my whole being without any reservation, to fulfil what was said of You: “She will crush your head” (Gn 3, 15), as well as: “You alone have destroyed all the heresies of the whole world ”, so that in Your immaculate and most merciful hands I may become a useful instrument to introduce and increase as much as possible Your glory in so many lost and indifferent souls and to extend, as much as possible, the blessed Kingdom of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Where You enter, You obtain the grace of conversion and sanctification, since all grace flows, through Your hands, from the Most Sweet Heart of Jesus to us ». (EK 1331).