SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE
Born on January 8, 1894 at Zdunska Wola near Lodz in Poland. As a young boy he had either a dream or an actual visitation from Our Lady. Later he explained "That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red.
She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red one meant that I should become a martyr.
I said I would accept them both."
In 1907 he entered a Junior Franciscan seminary in Lwow. For a time his intense interest in all things military made him lose sight of his idea of becoming a priest. But later, this desire re-surfaced and he was received as a novice in 1910, spending three years in Rome studying philosophy and from 1915-1919 Theology at the Collegio Serafico. He was ordained on April 28, 1918.
He developed a severe case of Tuberculosis, but flung himself into promoting the Truth, the Good News of the Gospel.
In January 1922, he began publishing a monthly review "Knight of the Immaculate" in Krakow. He started with 5,000 copies, and by 1927 it was up to 70,000 copies.
Later he established a seminary, which was to become one of the largest in the world.
More modern machinery was installed, and circulation of "The Knight Immaculate" rose to an incredible 750,000 per month.
In 1935 they began to produce a daily newspaper, "The Little Daily", printing 137,000 copies on weekdays and 250,000 copies on Sundays and holy days.
Still wanting to expand his apostolate further, he journeyed to Japan and India and Russia.
On February 17, 1941 he was arrested by the Germans who had occupied Poland, and after much illtreatment, he was sent to Auschwitz.
One day three of the prisoners escaped, and the Kommandant announced that ten people would be executed because of that, by being sent to the Bunker. ( An underground starvation cell.)
One of the ten chosen was a poor man, who cried out in his grief,"Oh my poor wife. My poor children."
Then something totally unexpected happened.
Prisoner number 16670, Father Maximilian Kolbe, stepped forward and offered to take that poor man's place in the death group.
His offer was accepted, and he was marched off to the Bunker with the other nine. People died daily but Father Maximilian kept them saying their prayers and singing hymns while they still able to do so. After two weeks when all had died escept Father Maximilian, the Kommandant ordered that he be injected in the vein of his left arm with carbolic acid. Father offered his arm to the soldier who was to carry out the final act, and soon after he died with a look of peace on his face.
He had at last achieved the red crown offered to him by Our Lady so many years before.
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