Saint Maximilian Kolbe (Part 2)


The monatastry containing the printing press soon grew too confined to continue operation and in 1927 Maximilian began searching for new land. He woudl soon find a large plot of land being sold by a local prince at Niepokalanow, who requested a massive sum for the land that the friars would not be able to provide. As the story goes, after a long night of prayer and devotion to Mary, he placed a large Marian statue on the property. The next day as the prince and his realtor drove past, the price had a dramatic change of heart and offered the land to the Friars.


The monastery there also experienced rapid growth, in part from a flyer distributed after his older brother took pictures of the printing operation there. From all across Poland, young men flocked to the monastery wanting to be a part of the operation.


Not content with the work he had completed in Poland, Maxmilian received permission from the order to travel to Japan and try to start a Japanese version of the paper there. According to Maxmilian, he had been traveling by train one day in Poland when a group of Japanese exchange students approached him inquiring about his black robes. Due to the language difference, Maxmilian was unable to share the gospel with him and made it a life goal to spread his paper in Japan.


Arriving in Nagasaki, Maxmilian raised funds to build a garden monastery (Mugenzai no Sono) on a hillside in town. Maxmilian specifically chose this site, as several hundred years before had been the sight of the 26 martyrs killed by the Japanese government. (It would also be completely untouched years later when America dropped the atomic bomb on the city. Maximilian left for Poland in 1933 and continued aiding in the printing of the paper. Several years later in 1938 he formed a radio station (Radio Niepokalanow) to broadcast Christian messages. This radio station would also often speak against the growing Nazi regime and often discussed the atrocities being commited against Jews, Gypsies and the mentally handicapped.


In September of 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Awakened by bells that morning warning of the invasion, Maximilian sent the majority of the younger friars home warning them not to give into vices. He told them he would not survive this war.


On September 9th, the Nazis raided the monastery and arrested Maximilian and the friars who had remained, shipping them to Amtitz in cattle cars. At Amtitz, he led the other friars and prisoners in keeping spirits high and was always kind and polite to the German guards. He would often be spotted putting extra blankets on other prisoners during the cold nights. Famously on October 12th, he preached a sermon saying:


"When suffering is remote we are willing to do anything. Now that it is here, let us accept it and bear it willingly for the Immaculate".


On the Feast of the Immaculate Assumption in 1939, the friars were released. Maximilian was told repeatedly to flee to America or another nation to escape, but refused. He returned to his monastery and fed refugees, famously sheltering nearly 2,000 Polish Jews. On February 17, 1941, German soldiers entered the camp and shut the monastery down. The Gestapo arrested him and sent him to Auschwitz (Prisoner 16670).


At Auschwitz he continued to operate as a Priest, offering help, shepardly advice, and love to all those around him. In return, the SS often beat him and reduced his rations. In July 1941 after a prisoner escape, the camp commander picked 10 men to be starved to death in an effort to deter future escapes. Franciszek Gajowniczek, a father and husband was selected and shouted "My wife! My children!". Maxmilian stepped forward and offered his life in place of Franciszek's.


In the bunker, Maximilan lead the other prisoners in prayer, and was always found on his knees in the middle of the cell. After two weeks of no food and little water, only he remained. The SS injected carbolic acid into his veins to kill him.


Pope Paul declared him venerable in 1969 and beatified him as a Confessor of the Faith in 1971. Pope John Paul II would canonize him as a saint on October 10th, 1982. Two miracles are attributed to him for his beatification:


In July 1948 Angela Testoni had her intestinal tuberculosis cured and in August 1950, Francis Ranier had calcification of the arteries completed cleared.

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