Born: January 8, 1894 in Zdunska Wola, Kingdom of Poland, Russian Empire
Died: August 14, 1941 (Age 47) in Auschwitz concentration camp, General Government
Venerated: Roman Catholic Church; Lutheran Church; Anglican Church
Beatified: October 17, 1971 by Pope Paul VI
Canonized: October 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II
Feast Day: August 14
Patronages: Families; Imprisoned People; Journalists; Political Prisoners; Prisoners; Pro-life Movement; Amateur Radio; Esperantists
Maximilian was born in 1894 in Poland and became a Franciscan. He contracted tuberculosis and, though he recovered, he remained frail all his life. Before his ordination as a priest, Maximilian founded the Immaculata Movement devoted to Our Lady. After receiving a doctorate in theology, he spread the Movement through a magazine entitled "The Knight of the Immaculata" and helped form a community of 800 men, the largest in the world.
Maximilian went to Japan where he built a comparable monastery and then on to India where he furthered the Movement. In 1936 he returned home because of ill health. After the Nazi invasion in 1939, he was imprisoned and released for a time. But in 1941 he was arrested again and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
On July 31, 1941, in reprisal for one prisoner's escape, ten men were chosen to die. Father Kolbe offered himself in place of ayoung husband and father. He was the last to die, enduring two weeks of starvation, thirst, and neglect. He was canonized in 1981 by Pope John Paul II.
PRAYER: Lord, You inflamed Saint Maximilian with love for the Immaculate Virgin and filled him with zeal for souls and love for neighbor. Through his prayers, grant that we may work strenuously for Your glory in the service of others and so be made conformable to Your Son until death. Amen.