Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Patron of the Pro-life Movement
St. Maximilian Kolbe was born in Russian – occupied Poland on January 7, 1894. His baptismal name was Raymond and he was the second of three sons born to two lay Franciscans in a poor, but pious family. Raymond had a reputation as a mischievous child who was, at times, a trial to his parents. However, in 1906 at Pabianice, at age twelve, he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary that changed his life.
St. Max explains: “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 if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.”
Joining the Conventual Franciscans, Raymond took the name Maximilian, pronouncing temporary vows in 1911. In 1917, one year before his ordination to the priesthood, Maximilian founded the Militia of Mary Immaculate in Rome to advance Marian devotion. He was ordained in the Eternal City in 1918 and returned to Poland. There he founded the “Cities of the Immaculate Conception” in 1927, institutions that flourished in Poland, Japan, and India which served as centers of Marian-Franciscan evangelization for the Movement.
Father Kolbe employed the mass media, especially the printed word, to spread the ideals of the MI and to encourage others to consecrate themselves to Our Lady. He became director of Poland’s chief Catholic publishing complex, which published both a monthly magazine with a circulation of about one million and a daily paper with a circulation of about 125,000.
As Kolbe grew older, his health, which had never been strong, deteriorated. He was diagnosed as suffering from tuberculosis, which was nearly fatal to him. His bout with this serious illness weakened him and he became quite frail. He bore the effects of the disease for the rest of his life, suffering from severe headaches and was covered with abscesses; but these were only minor problems when compared with what was yet to come.
In 1941, Maximilian was arrested by the Gestapo when the Germans invaded Poland and was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. He took the place of a married prisoner, who had a family, in a retaliatory punishment in the camp. Ten prisoners were being executed because one prisoner had escaped. Maximilian volunteered to die in place of the married prisoner and he was condemned to a slow death in a starvation bunker. On August 14, 1941, his impatient captors, eager to see him die, ended his life with a fatal injection of carbolic acid. He was beatified in 1971 and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
Maximilian was a ground-breaking theologian. His insights into the Immaculate Conception anticipated the Marian theology of the Second Vatican Council and further developed the Church’s understanding of Mary as “Mediatrix” of all the graces of the Trinity, and as “Advocate” for God’s people.
He is the patron of: drug addicts, families, imprisoned people, journalists, and the pro-life movement.
My Favorite Quotes from St. Maximilian Kolbe:
“Prayer is powerful beyond limits when we turn to the Immaculata who is queen even of God’s heart.”
“God dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.”
“He remains among us until the end of the world. He dwells on so many altars, though so often offended and profaned.”
“The culmination of the Mass is not the consecration, but Communion.”
“You come to me and unite Yourself intimately to me under the form of nourishment. Your Blood now runs in mine, Your Soul, Incarnate God, compenetrates mine, giving courage and support. What miracles! Who would have ever imagined such!”
“If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”
“Let us give ourselves to the Immaculata. Let her prepare us, let her receive Him in Holy Communion. This is the manner most perfect and pleasing to the Lord Jesus and brings great fruit to us.”
– St. Maximilian Kolbe
Prayer for the Intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe
O Lord Jesus Christ who said, “greater love than this no man has that a man lay down his life for his friends,” through the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose life illustrated such love, we beseech You to grant us our petitions …..(mention them here).
Through the Knights of the Immaculata movement, which Maximilian founded, he spread a fervent devotion to Our Lady throughout the world. He gave up his life for a total stranger and loved his persecutors, giving us all an example of unselfish love for all men — a love which was inspired by true devotion to Mary.
Grant O Lord Jesus, that we too may give ourselves entirely without reserve to the love and service of our Heavenly Queen in order to better love and serve our fellowman in imitation of your humble servant, Maximilian. Amen.
(Say 3 Hail Marys and a Glory be….)
St. Max, Mother Mary, the Pro-life Movement, and Me — August 14, 2008
St. Maximilian Kolbe: Pro-life Meditation — July 19, 2006