Priest Hero of
By: Amanda Harris
Saint Kolbe’s Childhood
• Born Raymond Kolbe in Zdunska
– Born to a devout Roman Catholic
family with a particular devotion to
• In Raymond’s childhood he was like any
normal child until one day his family
noticed a drastic change in his behavior.
This was due to a major life event for
Saint Kolbe’s Childhood (cont.)
At 12 years old St. Kolbe saw a vision of the Virgin
Mary. This experience changed and shaped his life.
– St. Kolbe asked Mary what was to become
of him when he grew up and Mary
informed him that he had a choice…
– The belief he had in this vision shaped all
his future endeavors.
Saint Kolbe’s Choice
“That night, I asked the Mother of
God what was to become of
me, a Child of Faith. 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
Saint Kolbe’s Early Life
• In 1907, Saint Kolbe and his elder brother entered a junior
Franciscan seminary in Lwow, Poland.
• Kolbe was extremely bright and others saw that he had a
passion for military. His interest in the military made him lose
his interest in becoming a priest. He wished to fight against
those who tried to oppress Poland.
• Before he could tell anyone about his decision his mother and
father announced that, she and her husband intended to
enter religious life.
• Raymond didn’t want to upset his parent’s so he changed his
plans for joining the army and continued his religious
• Kolbe traveled to Rome, there he studied
philosophy, theology, mathematics and physics.
• He was received as a novice in September 1910 and with the
habit he took the new name of Maximilian.
Saint Kolbe’s Young Adult Life
• At the age of 21 Kolbe received his doctorate in philosophy from the
Pontifical Gregorian University, and a doctorate in theology at the age
of 25 from Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure.
• In 1918 at the age of 24 Kolbe was ordained a priest.
• In 1919, he returned to Poland, where he founded the monastery of
Niepokalanów near Warsaw and also created a seminary, a radio
station, and several other religious organizations and publications.
• The love of fighting didn't leave him, but instead of wanting to fight in
a military way he wanted to fight spiritually. He didn't like what he saw
of the world and he thought the world was becoming evil.
• On 16 October 1917, with six of his brothers, he founded the Knights of
Mary Immaculate, this organization’s aim was to fight for the good of
mankind, it encouraged people to study and practice religion in their
lives and perform charitable works for others
• The Knights published a journal which was intended to “illuminate the
truth and show the way to true happiness”
Saint Kolbe’s Time in Japan
• Kolbe left Poland with four brothers to tour Japan in 1930
because he wasn’t content with his work. He spent six years
learning and spreading the word of God.
• Kolbe and his brothers were poor and they didn’t know a
word of the Japanese language.
• He did not try to impose Christianity on the Japanese
people. He respected Buddhism and Shintoism, and instead
he looked for ways to engage in religious dialogue and learn.
• In Nagasaki, Maximillian published a Japanese version of his
Polish journal “The Knight” called “Seibo no Kishi”. It
increased to a circulation of 65,000 by the time he finished
his work in Japan.
• In 1931 he founded a monastery in Nagasaki, Japan
St. Kolbe’sTime in Japan (cont.)
• The monastery pictured is the church that Saint
Kolbe founded in Nagasaki, it still remains
prominent in the Roman Catholic Religion in
• Kolbe build the church on a mountainside
because according to Shinto beliefs, this was not
the side best suited to be in harmony with
• Ironically, when the atomic bomb was dropped
on Nagasaki, the church was spared from the
blast because the other side of the mountain
took the main blow.
• After his time in Japan, Saint Kolbe left for
Malabar, India where he started another
monestary. Unfortunately due to the lack of
resources to keep it running it did not survive.
Saint Kolbe Returns to Poland
• Poor health forced Saint Kolbe to return to Poland in
• In 1938 the monastery started its own radio station
and because of the public outreach, by 1939 the
monastery housed nearly 800 men.
• During this time this was the largest religious group in
the world, and it was completely self-sufficient and it
had its own medical facilities which were staffed by
the religious brothers of the monestary.
• In 1939 Saint Kolbe was arrested along with several of
his brothers after the Nazi invasion of Poland. This was
due to the radio station’s “anti-nazi” broadcasts. Soon
after, they were released and went back to their work
despite the Nazi orders.
• Maximilian prepared people to accept suffering with
love as the war approached…then the second world
Saint Kolbe Returns to Poland (cont.)
Along with their work broadcasting and publishing “The Knight,” the brothers
helped harbor Polish refugees, which were mostly Jews. Maximilian was
arrested and taken to prison in Warsaw because he started publishing
again and ignored the commands of the Nazi’s.
In 1941 he was sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp…
A Concentration Camp Hero
• St. Kolbe was prisoner 16770, and his work group
was supervised by the most brutal of guards.
• His tranquil attitude and dedication to his faith
angered the guards, and brought him the most
terrible jobs and the most beatings of anyone.
• Once he was beaten within an inch of his life and
left to die. Luckily he was snuck into to the prison
hospital where he spent his recovery time hearing
• When he returned to the camp he continued to
look after the other prisoners. He conducted
Mass, gave blessings and even gave his own food to
• In June 1941, there was an escape from his area in
Auschwitz. According to Nazi rule, 10 men were to
be killed for each escapee. Francis Gajowniczek was
one of the men chosen to die.
• He cried out, "My wife! My children!....”
A Concentration Camp Hero (cont.)
• In the camp, Kolbe celebrated Mass each day and sang hymns
with the prisoners trying to give them hope.
• He led the other nine men who were chosen for execution in
song and prayer, and let them know they would soon be with
Mary and the Lord in Heaven.
• After two weeks of dehydration and starvation, the only man of
those sentenced to execution that remained was Kolbe.
• The guards wanted Kolbe out of the bunker so they administered
a lethal injection of carbolic acid which killed Saint Kolbe at the
age of 47.
• Those who were present at the injection said that Saint Kolbe
raised his left arm and calmly awaited his fate.
• His remains were cremated on 15 August, the feast day of the
Assumption of Mary.
Saint Kolbe’s Canonization
• Kolbe was beatified in 1971 as a Confessor of the Faith by Pope Paul VI.
• In 1982 Saint Kolbe was canonized by Pope John Paul II and the Pope
declared St. Maximilian Kolbe not a confessor, but a martyr.
• Franciszek Gajowniczek, the man that Saint Kolbe replaced at the
concentration camp was in attendance at the canonization.
• St. Maximilian Kolbe's feast day was added to the General Roman Calendar as
August 14th, following his canonization. The General Roman Calendar is used
by the Catholic Church throughout the world.
• He is one of ten 20th-century martyrs who is one of the statues above the
Great West Door of Westminster Abbey
St. Kolbe’s Patronage
• against drug addiction
• drug addicts
• imprisoned people
• political prisoners
• pro-life movement
Prayer to Saint Maximilian Kolbe
Lord, You inflamed
St. Maximilian with love
for the Immaculate Virgin
and filled him with zeal
for souls and love for
Through his prayers,
grant that we may work
strenuously for Your glory
in the service of others
and so be made comfortable
to Your Son until death.
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