Thursday 27th October 2016

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Maximilian Kolbe

August 12, 2014 saints No Comments


During the Final Discourse, our Lord speaks to His disciples at the Last Supper about union with Christ, union with the Father, and the coming of the Holy Spirit with the theme of love woven throughout the night’s sharing. “Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Martyrdom is an act of the will which one can suffer by giving one’s life, or by willing to do so even if not actually giving one’s life. When Pope St. John Paul II canonized St. Maximilian Kolbe on October 10, 1982, he told those present that the saint had lived these words in an absolutely literal manner. He freely accepted death as an act of unbounded charity, a love for both God and man.
Maria and Julius Kolbe welcomed Raymond into their life on January 8, 1894 In Zdunska-Wola, Poland, which was under Russian occupation at the time. The family, though poor, was cheerful, working hard to provide a meager living. Of their five sons, two died from fevers before the age of five, the other three were raised to be holy and were educated thanks to the patronage of family and a local pharmacist.
In the area of Poland where the Kolbes lived, there were no religious houses or convents, so the Franciscans came through looking for promising young men to join them in Lvov, a part of Poland which at the time was under the Austrian Empire. Much to the delight of their parents, both the eldest son, Francis, and the second son, Raymond, were chosen to enter the seminary.
The family moved to Lvov where the third son, Joseph, was placed in a boarding school. The devout parents then separated to enter the religious life. Julius soon discerned the life was not for him, joined the fight in World War I, was captured by the Russians, and put to death.
As a child, Raymond demonstrated a strong will, which is so needed to become a saint. Although some claim he was obstinate and unruly, an event dramatically changed him into a pious and obedient young man. At the age of nine, Mary appeared to him offering him two crowns: a white crown for purity or a red one for martyrdom. He responded that he wanted both, developing a deep love that lasted the rest of his life. This deep devotion became evident in the many ministries he undertook as a Conventual Franciscan.
In 1910, he took the name of Maximilian when he entered the novitiate of the Franciscans (presumably after a martyr of the third century). By 1912, the Franciscans transferred him to Rome for further study. While there, he excelled in all subjects, frequently assisting his fellow students as he became known for his keen intellect as well as his charitable outreach.
He excelled so well in the sciences and mathematics that many thought it a waste of his gifts for him to become a Franciscan. When he took his final vows in 1914, he added the name of Mary, in honor of the Blessed Virgin, to his own name.
Maximilian earned two doctorates: one in philosophy in 1915 and another in theology in 1919 from the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure in Rome. During this time, the activities of the Freemasons affected him so deeply that he established the Militia Immaculata to counteract and convert the enemies of the Church.
His devotion to Mary and his belief in the Miraculous Medal motivated him to write a prayer for the new group: “O, Mary, conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. And for all those who do not have recourse to thee; especially the Masons and those recommended to thee.”
Ordained in 1918, he continued to expand the work of the Immaculata by publishing magazines, newspapers, and catechetical tracts as well as by using radio programs to speak out against the Nazis in later years.
He returned to Poland in 1919, where despite his frailty after losing a lung to tuberculosis, he began a magazine in 1922. In 1929 he founded a monastery in Niepokalanow, which became a major publishing center. This monastery became one of the largest in the world with nearly 800 inhabitants.
After seven years in Poland, he then went to Japan in 1930. Maximilian spent six years there where he again began a publication center and established a monastery near Nagasaki, one of the cities which would later be so devastated by the atom bomb. Although the monastery had been built on the wrong side of the hill, according to the Japanese, it was saved from the effects of the bomb because it had been built on the side away from where the bomb exploded.
In 1936, Maximilian returned to the monastery in Niepokalanow, which had grown in both size and respect during his absence. In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the monastery’s establishment, he wrote a letter to the Pope asking for his blessing on an enterprise that “published a monthly magazine, The Knight of the Immaculata, circulation 780,000, another periodical for young people, The Little Knight, circulation 180,000, and a daily issue, The Little Journal, circulation 130,000.”
Four years later, on February 17, 1941, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the prison camp in Pawiak. In May, the Germans moved him to Auschwitz, giving him the number 16670 to further strip him of his name and his dignity. However, the priest remained serene and peaceful during the final days of his life.
Two months later, after three prisoners escaped from the camp, the Germans decided to punish the other prisoners and set an example for them by selecting ten men to be killed. As they selected Franciszek Gajowniczek, the man cried out in anguish for his wife and his children. Maximilian Mary Kolbe stood up and volunteered to take his place so that his wife and children would not lose him.
As the ten men in the cell slowly starved to death, Kolbe celebrated daily Mass, led them in song, and encouraged them with prayer. After two weeks, only he remained still alive, either standing or kneeling in prayer, so the soldiers killed him by lethal injection, calmly received by the saint.
His body was cremated on August 15, 1941, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.
Although some believe he was not strictly speaking a martyr, Pope Paul VI referred to him as a martyr of charity when he beatified him in 1971. When St. Pope John Paul II canonized him as a martyr rather than as a confessor, St. Maximilian Kolbe could wear the two crowns that Mary had offered him when he was nine years old — both the crown of purity and the crown of martyrdom. His feast day is August 14.
Dear St. Maximilian, by your example and by the work you began, still in existence to this day, may we work to convert the enemies of our Church with the heroic charity you preached and lived by laying down your life, proving your great love for both God and your neighbor. Amen.

+    +    +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican: Cremated bodies may not be scattered

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2016 / 09:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released an instruction Tuesday regarding burial and cremation, reiterating the Church’s teaching that cremation, while strongly discouraged, can be permissible under certain…Continue Reading

Pope’s climate message failed to sway Catholic conservatives: study

Pope Francis’s landmark statement on climate change and his call for more work on the issue failed to sway conservative American Catholics, according to a new study. The report, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, concluded that…Continue Reading

Live From New York Should a Catholic Vote for Hillary or Trump?

Almighty God has been very good  in giving us as the day’s Gospel passage that of Our Lord’s famous admonition to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to God what is God’s.” I say that in view of the…Continue Reading

Catholic university blasts ‘Unborn Lives Matter’ posters as ‘bigotry,’ bans them on campus

CHICAGO, Illinois, October 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – College Republicans at DePaul University were prohibited by the university president from displaying posters on campus advertising their group with the pro-life message, “Unborn Lives Matter.” Vincentian Father Dennis Holtschneider indicated to the…Continue Reading

For Archbishop Chaput, ‘Catholic Spring’ group did untold damage

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 14, 2016 / 05:53 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput did not enjoy his first and only encounter with two leaders of Catholics United. “It was an interesting experience,” Archbishop Chaput recounted in his Oct. 13 column…Continue Reading

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them)

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of…Continue Reading

The next ‘deplorables’? Clinton campaign rips ‘backwards’ Catholic beliefs in leaked e-mails

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – “Conservative Catholics” are the latest Americans to be smeared by members of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, leaked emails revealed on Tuesday show. Catholic beliefs are bashed as “backwards” and conservative Catholics…Continue Reading

German Bishop’s New Proposal: “There Exists More Than Man and Woman”

The Catholic Church in Germany seems to be becoming more and more unbounded in its proposals. In the recent past, for examples, the official website of the German Bishops’ Conference,, has reported about the idea to have women cardinals; about…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah presents counter-vision to Francis as he launches new book

After being reprimanded by Pope Francis over the summer for calling on priests to face east while saying Mass, Cardinal Robert Sarah is refusing to back down and is becoming a rallying point of opposition to this papacy.  The Vatican’s…Continue Reading

Massachusetts’ highest court grants full parental rights to unmarried gay woman

BOSTON – The Mass. court that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the United States ruled Tuesday that an unmarried gay woman whose former girlfriend gave birth to two children through artificial insemination has the same parental rights as…Continue Reading

Shunned for supporting natural marriage, former Mozilla CEO is back with new browser

SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The former CEO of Mozilla has released a new Internet browser called Brave. Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript, continues to lead the technological revolution with Brave, an innovative concept in Internet browsers.…Continue Reading

Lay Catholic Group: Tim Kaine’s Radical Views Stem From Embrace of Liberation Theology

An organization of committed lay Catholics is challenging Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, who’s invoking his Catholic faith and the words of Pope Francis as a basis for his radical positions on abortion and marriage, as well as his…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Father Gerald Murray, Blasts Clinton for Not Apologizing for Staff Emails, Suggesting Pope Francis Supports Her

A Catholic priest said Friday on Fox News that he is very disappointed Hillary Clinton didn’t apologize for her campaign staff’s anti-Catholic remarks during her appearance at the Al Smith dinner. The annual Al Smith roast-style fundraiser for Catholic charities was held Thursday night in Manhattan, and featured both candidates for president. Father Gerald Murray, the pastor of Holy Family Church in New York City, was also incensed that Clinton suggested that Pope Francis was endorsing her…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper: Can the ‘remarried’ now receive communion? ‘Yes. Period.’

October 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In a recent publication of the German journal Stimmen der Zeit (Journal for Christian Culture), Cardinal Walter Kasper published an article calling Amoris Laetitia a “paradigm shift” in the Church’s teaching. “Amoris Laetitia: Break or Beginning” is the title of a recent scientific article by Kasper in which he analyzes the post-synodal exhortation and provides his opinion on the right hermeneutic in reading it. In the first part called “Discussion…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood rips proposal to require father’s consent for abortion

SOUTH CAROLINA, October 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) is walking back suggestions it made last month that fathers of pre-born children consent for their mothers to abort them. The proposed regulations would possibly update abortion accident reporting requirements, requirements for abortion licensure, “complaint reporting, patient rights, infection control,” “record maintenance,” and “fire and life safety requirements,” according to the SCDHEC, which is accepting public comment on…Continue Reading

Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput welcomes ‘smaller church’ of holier Catholics

(RNS) In a stark prognosis for contemporary Catholicism, a leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. hierarchy has said that “a smaller, lighter church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of traditional orthodoxy. In a speech delivered Wednesday (Oct. 19) at the University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput also suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought…Continue Reading

Kansas archbishop blasts Kaine: He’s an ‘orthodox’ Democrat but a ‘cafeteria Catholic’


KANSAS CITY, Kansas, October 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas, has lambasted Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine for supporting abortion on demand while simultaneously touting his Catholic faith. Kaine is an “orthodox” Democrat but only a “cafeteria Catholic” who picks and chooses “the teachings of the Catholic Church that are politically convenient,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann wrote in a devastating critique of the Virginia senator. “It was painful to listen…Continue Reading

Restoring The Rightful Place Of The Supreme Court In American Government

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bi-monthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of…Continue Reading

Time To Pray Unceasingly . . . The Catholic Church Is Under Attack

By FR. MICHAEL P. ORSI The Gospel reading for Sunday, October 16 was Jesus’ parable about the persistent widow demanding of a corrupt judge that he render a fair verdict on her claim. The judge gives in “lest she finally come and strike me.” It’s a humorous anecdote which Jesus turns into an illustration of…Continue Reading

A Movie Review . . . Coming To God In An Unconventional Way

By REY FLORES “I see you dressed in white. Every wrong made right. I see a rose in bloom. At the sight of you (oh so priceless). Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable. I see it all in you (oh so priceless).” The above are the closing lyrics for the song Priceless by country duo For King &…Continue Reading

A Disillusioned Marxist Professor

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I spent much of my adult life observing left-wing academics who professed a fondness for socialism in one form or another. Some were my professors, others colleagues. More than a few were New Left Marxists who spoke openly in admiration of Mao, Fidel Castro, and the Sandinistas. One woman I taught…Continue Reading

The March To Totalitarianism

By DONALD DeMARCO Hannah Arendt, best known for her denunciation of totalitarianism in her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, has made the comment that “the aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.” Totalitarianism can appeal only to the unthinking masses. A true education, let it…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2004 Letter… Forbids Catholics To Vote For Hillary Clinton Under Pain Of Mortal Sin

(Editor’s Note: Below is a commentary The Wanderer is reprinting with permission from Catholics 4 Trump [catholics4trump], originally posted on October 11. All rights reserved. Catholics 4 Trump makes the case that a vote for the pro-abortion Hillary Clinton is objectively grave matter. Note the contrast between Trump’s and Clinton’s abortion stands in the third and final presidential debate on…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Pray Always And Never Grow Weary

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A moment of dawning experience when I was young gave birth to a nearly perfect prayer. This farewell to innocence of which I speak was a blessing. In the light of it I came to know the presence of God through His goodness which is the heart of prayer in the life of faith. I…Continue Reading

What Is Faith?… Other Attributes Of God

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 8 “I love thee, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2). The enthusiasm with which the psalmist praises God our Lord comes from his knowledge of God’s…Continue Reading

Confirmation In The Economy Of Salvation

By DON FIER Part 2 In the introductory paragraph of its section on the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Roman Catechism [RC], promulgated in 1566 by Pope St. Pius V soon after the Council of Trent, are the following words: “If there was ever a time when the Sacrament of Confirmation needed to be explained carefully, that time is now. All…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: J.H.T. of North Carolina, a deacon who has been a witness to the “liturgical wars” of the past half-century, has recommended an “extraordinary book” — Peter Kwasniewski’s Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church — that he says should be read by all Catholics, clergy and lay, who…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Colman Of Kilmacduagh

By CAROLE BRESLIN Ireland, the Emerald Isle, a green country of lush fauna, friendly people, and beautiful views — if you can find a clear day — has a rich and troubled heritage. It is a land full of the lore of elves, fairies, and, most important, Catholic saints. Numerous books have been written about the many Irish saints and…Continue Reading

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a society is riddled with evil and corruption, the worst thing we can do is to remain quiet. If we truly believe in God, then it is our obligation to do all we can to save the souls in danger of being lost in such a society. The threats and dangers of this world are not…Continue Reading