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Some were herding cattle, some tending pigs and chickens, others plowing the fields, and still others working on laundry.

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What most impressed him were the huge, sophisticated printing presses Father Kolbe used to publish religious tracts on Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Francis would roll up his sleeves and go to work like the rest of us would. He was a true Franciscan. He has spent much of his time working as a confessor at parishes across the country and at St.

He has also served as a college professor, retreat master and pastor around the U. Before or after each school hour, he visited Jesus in the tabernacle. These were to visit various churches where the Eucharist was exposed for adoration—especially the Sacred Heart Church near Quirinal Hill, where some French sisters had perpetual adoration. He enrolled as a watcher there. Maximilian excelled at mathematics, science, and chess. As a child, he had often drawn up military plans and at one point planned to leave the Franciscans to join the fight for Polish independence.

His older brother Francis did, in fact, take a leave of absence from the order to enlist in the military, and never returned to religious life, a fact that greatly pained Maximilian. In a letter written to his mother during his studies in Rome dated April 20, , he remembers the unexpected visit from his mother that had prevented him from leaving the order nearly a decade before:.

I have read your letter of February 23, as you can imagine with great consolation as well as sadness. Poor Franciszek. He was the first to ask to be received into the Order. Together we approached for the fist time for Holy Communion, the Sacrament of Confirmation, together at school, together in the novitiate, together we made simple profession. Before the novitiate it was mostly me who did not want to ask for the habit, in fact, I wanted to distract him too. Provincial to tell him that Franciszek and I did not want to join the Order, I heard the sound of the bell calling me into the parlor.

Divine Providence, in its infinite mercy through the Immaculata, had sent you, Mother, in such a critical time to visit us. It has been nearly nine years since that time. I think about it still with fear and gratitude to the Immaculata, instrument of divine mercy. What would have happened if she had not stretched out her hand at that time? It was under the banner of the Immaculata that Maximilian, along with six other Franciscans, founded the Militia of the Immaculata. With keen perceptiveness, Maximilian understood that the only knowledge of value was the knowledge that flows from love.

And so, marrying his devotion to the Immaculata with his tactical gifts, Maximilian set about waging war on indifference.


The strategy: to set the entire world ablaze with love of Christ through the universal mediation of Mary Immaculate. Inflamed with this love himself, he joyfully mediated upon the Immaculata even as he awaited his final arrest on February 17, Who is the Son? He is the begotten One, because He is always and eternally begotten of the Father. And who is the Spirit?

Forget Not Love: The Passion of Maximilian Kolbe

He is the fruit of the love of the Father and of the Son. The fruit of created love is a created conception. Thus, the fruit of love, of the prototype of this created love, is nothing but conception. The Spirit, therefore, is an uncreated, eternal conception. He is the prototype of any conception in the live of the universe.

In the union of the Holy Spirit with her, not only does love unite these two Beings, but the first one of them is all the love of the Most Holy Trinity, while the second is all the love of creation. Thus, in this union heaven meets earth, all of heaven with all of the earth, all Uncreated Love with all created love; it is the highest expression of love.

The Holy Spirit dwells in her, lives in her. This is the Spirit who, from the first moment of her existence. This is the Spirit who descended upon the Apostles as tongues of fire. Claiming nothing for herself, she is made fruit in her bond of unity with God. In the tabernacle of her womb, the Sacred Heart of the child dwells and she carries within her the fullness of God, Love in the flesh, in her flesh. Jesus Christ is flesh of her flesh and bone of her bones. In darkness and silence, the Word of God descends into the womb of Immaculata, a wordless infant. None of this detracts in the slightest from the centrality of her Son.

All of creation is an expression, an echo of divine love; a gift in which God makes room, so to speak, for the other, for that which is not God, even at the risk that the other may not return that love. The primacy of love, which Fr. Kolbe strained to articulate in the last hours before his arrest, originates with the Father. Saints, Fr.

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The goal of the M. Maximilian did not hesitate to use any means at his disposal to fulfill this mission. After returning to Poland, Fr. Kolbe set about forming groups of Militia Immaculata and establishing a printing press. Despite the massive post-war devastation that afflicted the fledgling country, including structural damage, social upheaval, and an uncertain currency, he was successful not only in founding the Marian newspaper, Knight of the Immaculata, but grew the publication at a time when others were folding. With the help of a small contingent of fellow Franciscans, Maximilian published the first issue of the Knight in , with a print run of 5, copies.

By , the press run was up to 60, Also in , Fr. Kolbe founded Niepokalanow City of Mary near Warsaw. The original community included two priests and eighteen friars, but by had become the largest friary in the world with nearly members operating the largest printing press in Central Europe, with a press run of a million copies. Meanwhile the Militia of the Immaculata had close to , members in Poland alone and several hundred thousand additional members abroad. Maximilian had traveled to India and China and established a mission in Japan, near Nagasaki.

He learned Japanese and started Kishi , a Japanese Knight. His goal: to establish a ring of Marian centers around the globe. All that Fr. Maximilian did was animated by his desire to be reborn in the form of Christ in the heart of Mary. His contemplation of Mary was remembering in the deepest, biblical sense; for to remember zakar is to make present the events of salvation—to live the mysteries of faith—to live the mysteries of Love.

Again and again, he expresses his desire to love without limits. In an article penned for the Knight , published in , Fr.

Kolbe reflects on love of neighbor:. For such would be petty reasons, unworthy of a male or female Knight of the Immaculata. Genuine love rises above the creature and plunges into God. In Him, for Him and through Him it loves everyone, be they good or bad, friends or foes. The Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, , sent an already fragile Poland into chaos.

Yet, under Fr. Kolbe was offered and declined German citizenship, a way out of persecution. Only truth can be and is the unshakable foundation of happiness, both for individuals and for the whole of humanity. Two and a half months later, after Mass and breakfast, the Gestapo arrived at the City of Mary to arrest Fr.

Eglise à bulbe - Picture of Eglise Saint Maximilien Kolbe, Corps-Nuds

He was transported to Pawiak Prison until his transfer to Auschwitz at the end of May along with other prisoners. Indifference begins with the erasure of all signs of humanity. Even in the early days of the camps, the Third Reich was efficient at eroding all humanizing features of the men, women, and children brought there to work and to die. Unknown to the SS-guards and Capos, mercy had snuck into Auschwitz. Into a place where ruthless indifference stifled communion, Fr. Maximilian made his body a space for mercy.

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He heard confessions made in whispers at night. He held secret conferences throughout June and July of , instructing others in the lives of the saints and martyrs. Though sick himself, he often gave his rations away. Where evil had divided men, he brought them together. Where evil declared that there is no mercy, he dispensed it. He endured, but did not pass on the hatred and indifference that spread and circulated like cancer.

In the poisoned soil of hate, God transplanted a rose—in a man who lived in the palm of the Blessed Mother. And thus, his death is a paradox. It is a sign. Inflamed with charity, St. Maximilian consumed the evil of indifference and indifference of evil. He exposed the lie of hell, the lie that there is no love, as a cynical show. He was a burning flame of love so bright, so piercing that the SS guards could not endure his gaze. Auschwitz survivor Bruno Borgowiec recalled that Fr.

Conformed to the God who is Love, he emptied himself on behalf of another, lying down his life for a friend. For Maximilian even strangers and enemies were friends.