Maximilian was born in 1894 in Poland and became a Franciscan. He contracted tuberculosis and, though he recovered, he remained frail all his life. Before his ordination as a priest, Maximilian founded the Immaculata Movement devoted to our Lady.
After receiving a Doctorate in Theology, he spread the Movement through a magazine entitled “The Knight of the Immaculata” and helped form a community of 800 men, the largest in the world.
Maximilian went to Japan where he built a comparable monastery and the on to India where he furthered the Movement. In 1936, he returned home because of ill health. After the Nazi invasion in 1939, he was imprisoned and released for a time. But in 1941 he was arrested again and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
On July 31, 1941, in reprisal for one prisoner’s escape, the men were chosen to die, father Kolbe offered himself in place of a young husband and father. And he was the last to die, enduring two weeks of starvation, thirst, and neglect. He was canonized in 1981 by Pope John Paul II. Present at the canonization was Francis Gajowniczec, the man whose life Father Kolbe had saved.
PRAYER: Lord, You inflamed St. Maximilian with love for the Immaculate Virgin and filled him with zeal for souls and love for neighbor. Through his prayer, grant that we may work strenuously for Your glory in the service of others and so be made conformable to Your Son until death. Amen.