Remembering the Importance of St. Max Kolbe

When innocent prisoner #5659 was about to be placed in Cell Block #13, the worst of all tortures prior to the invention of the gas chambers, prisoner #16670 volunteered to take his place.  Stunned at the unprecedented request, the commandant acquiesced. The man who volunteered was a Roman Catholic priest, Maximilian Kolbe.

Kolbe and ten others went to cell block #13.  The Nazis denied the prisoners water and food, and they forced them to stand, hunched over, naked, in the dark.  Their captors hoped to induce the prisoners to madness.  Instead, Kolbe talked of hope to the men, and, rather than madness, joy ensued.

Infuriated, the commandant ordered the men injected with carbolic acid on August 14, 1941.  When the first doctor approached Kolbe to inject him, Kolbe simply lifted his arm and continued to pray.  Severely rattled by Kolbe’s faith and composure, the translator fled.  When he returned after the injection to remove Kolbe’s body, he was stunned at what he found: “When I opened the iron door, Father Kolbe was no longer alive.  His face had an unusual radiance about it.  The eyes were wide open and focused on some definite point.  His entire person seemed to have been in a state of ecstasy.  I will never forget that scene as long as I live.”

John Paul II called Auschwitz the “Golgotha of the modern world. . . . built for the negation of faith—faith in God and faith in man. . . . [meant] to trample radically not only on love but on all signs of human dignity, of humanity . . . . built on hatred and contempt for man in the name of a crazed ideology.”

In Poland, John Paul II told an audience that St. Max Kolbe points the way for all struggle against evil: “victory through faith and love.”



  • james hughes

    I have always loved the story of Fr. Kolbe’s heroism and I find that it unnerves me because I feel that I would never have the courage to do what he did because I think I would be a coward. I hope that he will pray for me that in the midst of my trials god will not find me wanting. AMDG

  • G.M.

    St. Max passionately believed in the importance of total consecration to the Immaculata. Today, the group he founded thrives in many countries ( Consecrate yourself, so that the Immaculate will do with you what she did for St. Max, make your life a masterpiece of the art of loving God and loving neighbor.

    This is the fastest, surest way to improve society. Let the Immaculate coordinate our efforts and make them effective.

    Max lived in a very difficult time and managed to live his life in an authentically Catholic manner. He died happy in the midst of horror. His secret was his consecration. The best biography I have read is “A man for others:Maximilian Kolbe, Saint of Auschwitz, In the Words of Those Who Knew Him” by Patricia Treece. It really lets you get to know him. Worth reading for anyone who wants to know how to resist evil in the culture and in personal life.

  • Mark Patrick

    Out of modern history’s most horrific tragedy, the Holocaust, God was able to bring about good: Saint Maximillan Kolbe. If God’s grace can penetrate the deep dark confines of a concentration camp then He can also shine His Light on us in our daily struggles. Have faith in God, fear not for He loves us.

  • Fred Y

    Thanks, Brad, for this important reminder about Maximillian Kolbe’ s courageous embrace of his personal opportunity to witness to Christ’s promise: “The gates of hell shall not prevail.” Thank God for sending us these beautiful saints lest we despair. Faith, hope and love will prevail in all times!

  • Andrew

    One of my favorite saints. We need more men like him in the world! Dear Jesus, I pray that more men and women like St. Kolbe will be raised up to fight against evil in our world and be a model of charity and love for all.

  • Louise Purvis

    We must pray for this country asking God to forgive man and change the hearts of those who are in the grasp of evil.

    • Gerald Donahue

      Well said! Amen.



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