Monday, August 14, 2006

Prisoner #16670

or St. Maximilian Kolbe as we know him, ascended to the Father on this day in 1941.

At the age of 12, St. Maximilian saw Blessed Mother holding two crowns, one red and one white. She told him that the white one was for purity and the red one was for martyrdom. He said that he would accept both.

The story goes that he and a group of other prisoners at Auschwitz were lined up one morning. A man from their block had recently escaped. There, the guards selected a ten of them to be put to death. One of the men begged to be spared for the sake of his wife and children. Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take his place, claiming that he was nothing more than a Polish priest. Surprisingly, the guard granted Kolbe his wish, and the man was let go. The prisoners were then stripped and put into cells to starve. Maximilian Kolbe supported his fellow prisoners in their last days and prayed with them, despite the protests of the SS. He and three others managed to survive for two weeks before being put to death by lethal injection on the eve of the Asumption. The next day, he was cremated in the furnaces of the camp.

The man he saved managed to survive the Holocaust and lived to ripe old age of 95.

If you're interested in Maximilian Kolbe, EWTN is playing the one man show Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz on Saturday at 8. I highly recommend it.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
-John 15:12-13

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