St. Maximilian Kolbe: August 14, 1941

Today is the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who was martyred on this date in 1941 by Nazi death camp guards. His death is an heroic tale of self-sacrifice, courage and dedication to the family.

maxkolbepriest

In short, and I won’t do the story justice, but ten prisoners were selected to die because another had escaped. One of the chosen was a Polish Army sergeant named Franciszek Gajowniczek who protested that he had a wife and family. Cynical people would say that his protest was pointless as the Nazis couldn’t care less about that. But, enter Auschwitz Prisoner No. 16670, a Catholic priest named Maximilian Kolbe. He offered to go in the sergeant’s place. To the astonishment of all gathered, the Nazis agreed to the switch. You’d have thought they’d have just have added him and make eleven. But no.

Gajowniczek survived the camp and the war, and lived to give testimony to Kolbe’s heroism.

John 15:13 “No one has a greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.”

He is a particular favorite of mine as he is considered to be a patron saint of addicts and alcoholics due to the manner of his martyrdom. I have blogged about him numerous times before: St. Maximilian Kolbe post archives. There are numerous links on him in the sidebar.

Marytown, the National Shrine of “St. Max” has a nice piece on him: Who is St. Maximilian Kolbe?

Photo courtesy of MaryPages

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