August Europe Martyrs Priests Saints

Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Feast Day: August 14

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Today we are feasting with… Saint Maximilian Kolbe.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Two Crowns

Maximilian Kolbe was born on January 8, 1894, in Poland, as Raymond Kolbe. Raymond was by nature a very mischievous boy. One day, his mother asked what would become of him if he continued to be so naughty. That night he asked the Blessed Virgin the same question, and Our Lady responded through a dream.

In the dream Our Lady appeared to him holding two crowns; a white one, for purity, and a red one, for martyrdom. When she asked which one he wanted, he told her, both of them. From that moment on Raymond had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin.


When he was thirteen, Raymond, along with his older brother, entered a Franciscan seminary. On September 4, 1910, Raymond was presented with the Franciscan habit and became Friar Maximilian Mary. He moved to Rome to further his studies in theology and became a priest in 1919. Shortly after his ordination, he moved back to Poland.

World War II broke out in 1939. In 1941, The Gestapo arrested Father Kolbe for hiding Jews and sent him to Auschwitz where he received the prison number: 16670. While in Auschwitz, Father Kolbe tried to spread hope to his fellow prisoners. In July, a prisoner escaped, so the Nazis choose ten random prisoners to die by starvation. The Nazi’s goal was to discourage future escapes. One of the ten condemned men, chosen by the Nazi’s, cried out in despair for his wife and children.

“I Am a Priest”

Maximilian Kolbe bravely walked up to the the Nazi commander and asked to take the man’s place since he had a wife and children. When the Nazi demanded to know who he was, Maximilian responded simply by saying “I am a priest”. The Nazi commander allowed the man and Maximilian to switch places. Maximilian joined the nine other prisoners in a cell with no food or water.

Maximilian did not despair, but instead led the others in prayer and song. After two weeks, he was one of the few that survived. The Nazis then killed him with a lethal injection.

He was beatified on October 17, 1971 by Pope Paul VI. Pope John Paul II canonized him on October 10, 1982. The man Father Kolbe had saved in Auschwitz attended his canonization.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe’s feast day is August 14.

He is the patron saint of families, prisoners, journalists, drug addicts, and the prolife movement.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us!

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