Maximilian Kolbe, Friar, Martyr

14 August -- Commemoration
If celebrated as a Lesser Festival, Common of Martyrs, page 464

Maximilian Kolbe was born at Zdunska Wola near Lodz in Poland in 1894. His parents were Franciscan Tertiaries and, beginning his training for ordination in 1907, Maximilian joined the Franciscan noviciate in 1910. He studied at Rome but, suffering from tuberculosis, he returned to Poland and became a lecturer in church history. After suffering a severe illness, he resolved to publish a magazine for Christian readers and this soon gained a huge circulation. Soon his community was producing daily and weekly journals. After the Nazi invasion of Poland, Maximilian was arrested as an 'intellectual' and taken to Auschwitz in May 1941. There he continued his priestly ministry, secretly celebrating the eucharist. When, after an escape, a prisoner was chosen to forfeit his life as an example, Maximilian stepped forward to take his place and be put to death. Two weeks later he was injected with phenol and died on this day in 1941.