Stories of common people who chose to LiveCatholic and became Saints

Stories of common people who chose to LiveCatholic and became Saints


Saint Maximilian Kolbe – Born Jan 8, 1884, received his crown 1941

Saint Maximilian Kolbe was born in 1894, at a very interesting time in Church history and Polish history, where he was born. At the time, the Church was under major attack by the Freemasons, and Poland was subjugated by Russia, Prussia, and Austria. In the Russian controlled portion, where Maximilian was born, Polish schools were not allowed, and the school system corrupted the faith of the youth. Because of this, his parents, who were third order Franciscans and very poor, homeschooled him and his siblings. As a young boy he was very devout. He told his mother one day, “When I was praying in the Church before the image of Mother Immaculate, She suddenly came alive and showed me two crowns.” One of these was white, which was a symbol of perfect purity, implying celibacy. The other was red, which was a symbol of martyrdom. The Blessed Virgin asked St. Maximilian if he would like one of them. His natural mother asked him what he said, and he told her, “I chose both of them.”

This event marked his life out. He was handpicked by the Blessed Mother for a mission at the same time where She also provided the great pope, St. Pius X, and appeared Herself at Fatima. For his early life, he gave himself over completely to her at thirteen by entering the Franciscan Order and taking his final vows as a monk in 1914. Before his final vows, he almost left the Order because he thought that the Blessed Mother was calling him to the army to fight for an independent Poland. His natural mother checked him, saying, “You will never receive a martyr’s crown for that. I am sure that Our Lady wants you to be a soldier, but a soldier for God and the Church.” And so Maximilian’s militant spirit was protected by his mother, who kept him in line for the Blessed Mother’s intentions for him.

His militant spirit came out again when he was studying in seminary in Rome. In October 1917, Maximilian witnessed the Freemasons of Italy fly a banner below the Pope in the Vatican that said, “Satan will take over the Vatican. The Pope will be satan’s slave.” This was at the time of the warnings and signs in Fatima. In response to this, with the confidence of the mantel of the Blessed Virgin, and in imitation of his holy exemplar St. Francis who approached the Sultan, Maximilian approached the rector of his seminary and asked for permission to go to the headquarters of the Freemasons and convert their grandmaster.

On October 16th four days after the miracle of the sun, in that same year, he founded the Knights of the Immaculata, (also called the Militia of the Immaculate). He gave them this mission: “To convert the whole world and each individual soul to the end of time to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate.” He taught all of his knights to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart in the manner of St. Louis de Montfort, becoming “the possession of Our Lady to be used as an instrument in Her hand, to crush the head of the Serpent.” He also authored this prayer: “Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee, and for all those who do not have recourse to Thee, especially the Freemasons.”

He spent the next twenty years working for the Blessed Mother, the Immaculate, governing a friary called Niepokalanow which was the size of a city, containing 800 friars, over a third of the total 2100 Franciscan Conventual Friars of the world at that time, and contained all of the trades, carpenters, bakers, etc., as well as a printing press that worked twenty-four hours a day, gaining at one point one million subscribers. This newspaper was the saint’s approach to combating the errors of the time, and he openly attacked Freemasonry, Evolution, Atheism, Communism, Protestantism, and Nazism, explaining the truth about the Holy Religion and about the Immaculate Mother of God. He also began a radio broadcast. He traveled also to China and Japan, establishing in the latter the City of the Immaculate, a counterpart of Niepokalanow, enduring mockery and ridicule for his pursuit, because he did not even know the Japanese language.

When World War II started with the overrun of Poland by the Nazis and Russians, he was arrested for his views against the Nazi regime, but he saw it as a grand opportunity to suffer for the Immaculata, telling Her that She could do whatever She wished with him. When they released him, he went back to his work. He began to receive the persecuted and Jews, feeding and clothing them, and converting them away from their false religion. He also continued publishing against the Nazis most aggressively.

After more successful anti-Nazi publications, he was arrested again for sheltering Jews, and sent to Auschwitz, where he joyfully suffered great tortures of heavy work that often made him collapse, and beatings in punishment for not having finished his work. He was left for dead in the mud on one such occasion, but other prisoners rescued him secretly. His bed was nothing but a board, and yet he stayed on the most uncomfortable portion of it so that he would be easily aroused, in order that he may comfort and conduct some one in their final agony, especially since many were his Knights. Though starving, he would always give his small bread or little cup of tea to others. He suffered tuberculosis also, both before and during his imprisonment.

When three prisoners escaped, ten other prisoners were chosen to starve to death in punishment. One man cried out about his family. Kolbe offered to take his place, saying that he was a Catholic priest, and this man had a wife and children, which the overseer accepted. The guards were used to hearing screams and other such sounds from this bunker, since those condemned to it were stripped naked and given no privacy to relieve themselves, nor any other human considerations. Oftentimes, they began to eat each other. But these guards testified that they say bright lights coming from the bunker and heard constantly beautiful hymns being sung about the Immaculate Mother of God.

The saint held onto his life until he had conducted each one of those companions of his to Heaven, converting them from their false religions and errors into a perfect offering for the Son of God through His Blessed Mother. After two weeks, he was found alive, while most of the rest were dead. Without complaint, he was given a lethal injection.

St. Maximilian Kolbe has written extensively, especially in the area of Mariology, and his complete works available in English in two volumes are over a thousand pages each. In them he says:

God in His infinite goodness gives us a taste of some of the joy which will be our crown so as to draw us towards Himself and enkindle in us a spirit of fervor. If we strive with all our strength to cooperate with the grace of God to spread His Kingdom through the Immaculate in ourselves and others, we shall oftentimes experience that blissful peace of a child who gives himself without limit into the hands of his mother. He does not worry about anything, nor is he afraid of anything. All around us the tempests will range, thunder will strike, yet we who are dedicated entirely to the Immaculate, shall be protected. We shall be working for the salvation of souls and then rest with perfect confidence.”

And again, crosses will befall us beside the grace of God and flame in our hearts will stir up in us a real thirst for unlimited sufferings, to be humiliated, despised, and forgotten, in order that through these sufferings we may testify as to how much we love our Father in Heaven, our best Friend and His most blessed Mother the Immaculate. Suffering is a school of love.”

Expansion and strength, seemingly sad, yet always rejoicing. This is the ideal of life. And although there be a whole legion of most bitter foes against us, we shall find true friends who united by sincere love and a common ideal, will console us in our sorrow and support us in our weaknesses so that we shall never despair but steadfastly and bravely trust only in God through the Immaculate and fight unto death. All this is only a part of our reward. We must not, however, expect consolation to accompany each of our crosses. But only when our loving Mother the Immaculata seeing our weaknesses in carrying our cross will come to our aid and lighten the burden. With heartfelt gratitude and humility, we must accept Her loving help as an incentive to pray more fervently for strength, zeal to draw souls to God through Her.”

Oh, we shall merit many more graces if we are plunged into exterior and interior darkness, filled with sorrow, exhausted, unconsoled, persecuted at each step, surrounded by continual failures, abandoned by all, ridiculed, scoffed at, as was Jesus on the Cross. We must, however, pray with all our strength for those who persecute us. We must strive to draw them to God through the Immaculate and unite them with Him as closely as possible.”

There is no need to grieve when we do not see the fruits of our work on this earth. Perhaps it is the will of God that we reap them after death. In this world, someone else may enjoy them. After death, the Immaculate will complete Her work by making use of us. And then we shall labor much more than on this poor Earth, wherein holding out our hands to others, we must be very cautious not to fall ourselves.”

In the Holy Mass, the priest prays this prayer, which is a picture of the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe: “What return shall I make to the Lord for all He has given me? I shall take the chalice of salvation and call upon the Name of the Lord. Praising, I shall call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies.”

He drank of the chalice of the Lord Jesus Christ in the death camp in 1941 and went praising into Heaven, saved from his enemies, for whom he laid down his life and desired always to convert them.

He was canonized in 1981 with the man present whose place he had taken.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, ora pro nobis!



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