Aug 14, 2014
On August 14th the Catholic Church celebrates the life of a man who died wearing the notorious stripes of Auschwitz.
He lived a life of professed celibacy, poverty, and obedience, and he met his martyrdom not at the end of a sword on a battlefield, but in a dimly lit bunker filled with the stench of human waste and decaying flesh. His death was meant to make him feel powerless. It was his humiliating death, however, which would engrave his name in the annals of human history, and in the trophy room of heaven.
St. Maximilian, born Raymund Kolbe in the kingdom of Poland, joined the conventional Franciscans with his brother, Francis, at the age of 13. He enrolled in minor seminary after illegally crossing the border between Russia and Austria-Hungary and was accepted into the novitiate when he turned 16. He took the name Maximilian Maria to honor Mary, whose cause he would champion all his life.
During St. Maximilian's doctoral studies in Rome, he become convicted of the need to fight the growing influence of Freemasons and other demonic forces warring against the Catholic Church, and so he founded the Militia Immaculata, a movement dedicated to the spread of devotion to Mary's Immaculate Heart. At the peak of the MI's influence, their magazine circulated to one million monthly subscribers, thanks to Kolbe's media savvy and use of cutting edge techniques in radio and publishing.