St. Maximilian Kolbe was born on January 8, 1894 in Poland. St. Maximilian Kolbe was very active promoting the Immaculate Virgin Mary and is known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary. When he was 13, Kolbe and his elder brother, Francis joined the Conventual Franciscans. In 1918, he was ordained a priest and continued his work of promoting Mary throughout Poland. Kolbe also founded monasteries in both Japan and India. In 1936, Kolbe's poor health forced him to return home to Poland just as WWII invasion by Germany began. He opened up a temporary hospital to aid those in need. When his town was captured, Kolbe continued to work in his monastery and provided shelter for refugees, including 2,000 Jews. On February 17, 1941, the monastery was shut down and Kolbe was arrested. Three months later, he was transferred to a concentration camp. Toward the end of his second month in Auschwitz, 12 men were chosen to face death by starvation as a message against escapes. Kolbe was not chosen but volunteered to take the place of a man with a family. It is said during the last days of his life Kolbe led prayers to Our Lady with the prisoners and remained calm. He was the last of the group to remain alive, after two weeks of dehydration and starvation. The guards eventually gave him a lethal injection of carbolic acid. In 1982, St. Pope John Paul II canonized him as a “martyr of charity,” and called him the “patron of our difficult century.” He is the patron saint of drug addicts, prisoners, families, and the pro-life movement.
Lord, help us to follow the example of Saint Maximilian Kolbe to remain faithful to you even during difficult times and put others' needs before our own. Amen