78th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of St. Maximilian Kolbe
Father Maximilian Maria Kolbe, a Franciscan, was killed in the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz 78 years ago. A solemn Holy Mass was celebrated on the anniversary of this event at Block 11, which housed the camp prison where the monk was murdered. The Mass was presided over by Abp. Marek Jędraszewski.
During the homily, Abp. Marek Jędraszewski recalled the words of Father Maximilian Maria Kolbe to his fellow prisoner a few weeks before his death, “hatred is not a creative force; love is a creative force”. - How characteristic are the words of Karl Fritzsch deputy to the commander of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoss, who said, “For us you people are not humans...” - added the Archbishop of Cracow.
During the mass, the Archbishop of Bamberg, Ludwig Schick, referred to war as a horrible nightmare. - Today I would like to recall the attack on Poland on 1 September 1939 at the beginning of World War II, 80 years ago. It sparked a human catastrophe for all, especially Poles. - No man can play God, and no nation can rise above others because only God gives equal rights to all people and imposes equal obligations of mercy on all others - he added.
During the anniversary celebrations, flowers were laid at the Death Wall in the courtyard of block 11, as well as at the camp assembly square, where Maximilian Kolbe offered his life for a fellow prisoner Franciszek Gajowniczek on 29 July 1941. The church hierarchs and Franciscans also prayed in cell no. 18 in the basement of block 11, where St. Maximilian was murdered.
Rajmund Kolbe was born on 8 January 1894 in Zduńska Wola. In 1910, he joined the Order of Franciscan Friars in Lviv, where he received the name Maximilian. In 1912, he began his studies in philosophy and theology in Rome, obtaining his doctorate in the sciences, and was also ordained a priest. He returned to Poland in 1919. In 1927, he founded the monastery of the Immaculate Mother of God and a publishing house near Warsaw. He was also a missionary in Japan.
On May 28, 1941, he was imprisoned at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Two months later he offered his life for Franciszek Gajowniczek, designated by the SS to death by starvation in reprisal for the escape of one of the prisoners. He died on 14 August 1941, murdered by an injection of phenol in the basement of the so-called Block of Death.
He was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1971, and was canonized by his Holiness Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982. In 1999, he was pronounced by the Pope as the honorary patron of blood donors. He is also the patron of the Diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec.
“Christian fate and religious life in KL Auschwitz” - online lesson presenting the priests and clerics, nuns, and clergy of other Christian churches imprisoned by the Germans in Auschwitz. It also describes stories of later Saints and Blesseds, including St Maximilian Kolbe and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). The lesson also presents various aspects of religious life led by the prisoners in the camp, while risking their lives.