Saint Maximilian’s Vision
The life of Saint Maximilian was greatly influenced by a vision of the Blessed Mother that he had as a child. Saint Maximilian described his vision saying,
"That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.”
Saint Maximilian Joins the Seminary
Saint Maximilian Kolbe joined the Conventual Franciscans as a novitiate in 1907. He made his final vows in 1914, taking the name Maximilian Maria because of his dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was ordained a priest in 1918 and returned to Poland the following year.
Saint Maximilian Went to Japan
Saint Maximilian went on many missions to Japan between 1939 and 1936. He founded a monastery near Nagasaki, a Japanese newspaper, and a seminary. His monastery survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki because it was built on the other side of a mountain.
Saint Maximilian and Auschwitz
During WWII, Saint Maximilian sheltered refugees from Poland, including over two thousand Jews. He hid the Jews from the Nazis in a friary in Niepokalanow.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe was arrested by the Germans on February 17, 1941. He was imprisoned in Auschwitz in May of the same year. He volunteered to take the place of a terrified man who was to be starved to death along with nine other men. Saint Maximilian led the starving men in prayer and song for three weeks of starvation and dehydration. He was eventually injected with carbolic acid to induce death.
Saint Maximilian was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982.