Raymond Kolbe was born in Lodz, Poland on January 8, 1894. His parents were very religious, his father was a member of the Franciscan Third Order, and they chose to live poorly out of love for the Lord. The family had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary and each year went on a pilgrimage on foot to Czestochowa. At the age of 10, Raymond experienced a shocking event. During an argument with his mother, she asked him angrily, "What are you going to do? ». Shaken by this question, he went to pray to the church to be enlightened about his future, it was then that the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, holding in her hands two crowns, one white signifying purity, the other red indicating martyrdom. Raymond accepted both crowns.
At 13, Raymond entered the seminary of the Franciscans. He became a brother at 16 and was then called Maximilian. He left to study in Rome and made his perpetual profession at 19 years old, taking the name of Maximilian Marie. In 1917, anti-clericalism was virulent in Rome, supported by a Freemason current. The young man wanted Christians to be more active thanks to modern technical means. He founded the Mission of the Immaculate, who wanted to make people love the Lord, and created a Marian magazine: The Knight of the Immaculate. He was ordained a priest at the age of 28 and sent to Poland, where he obtained land to found the City of the Immaculate: there he built a chapel, a carpentry shop, printing workshops with modern machines to print the magazine in more than 60,000 copies. He was joined by other brothers, and together they consecrated themselves to the Blessed Virgin and lived very poorly.
In 1930, he formed the project to found a new City of the Immaculate in Asia and left with four brothers to Nagasaki. When the atomic bomb exploded in 1945, the convent remained on its feet. The community grew, but Maximilian had to return to Poland. In 1939, the Germans invaded the country. Arriving at the convent, they destroyed everything, took the brothers and deported them to a concentration camp. In May 1941, Maximilian arrived at the Auschwitz camp, and just after his arrival, an event occurred. One prisoner had escaped and the punishment was extremely severe: 10 prisoners were randomly taken to die in the bunker of hunger. A father was chosen and exclaimed, "My God! My poor wife, my poor children ", hearing this, Father Kolbe came forward and said" I am a Catholic priest, I am old, I want to take his place." The commander agreed, and Father Kolbe entered this cell. The Polish interpreter from the camp testifies: "the people were screaming in the bunker, as soon as Father Maximilian Kolbe entered they started together to pray, sing and recite the rosary, he encouraged his brothers distributing hope to the end". Gradually, they all died one after the other, after three weeks there were only four prisoners left, so a nurse was sent to finish them off. Maximilian died with a peaceful face on the evening of August 14, 1941, as the feast of the Assumption opened.
Maximilian Kolbe was proclaimed a Saint by John Paul II on October 10, 1982, and is celebrated on August 14. Recognized as a confessor and a martyr of the faith, he was appointed patron of journalists.
Here are two beautiful prayers of St Maximilian Kolbe including his famous prayer of consecration to the Immaculate Conception. To give your personal intentions to Saint Maximilian Kolbe, there is a beautiful novena. It can be prayed in preparation for his feast day on August 14th.
Immaculate Conception, Queen of heaven and earth, Shelter from sinners and most loving Mother, to whom God wished to entrust the whole order of mercy, here I am at your feet, you poor sinner.
I beseech you, accept my whole being as your good and property; act in me according to your will, in my soul and body, in my life and death, and my eternity.
Above all, dispose of me as you wish, so that what is said about you may finally be realized: "The Woman will crush the head of the serpent" and also "You alone will overcome heresies all over the world".
May in your pure hands, so rich in mercy, I become an instrument of your love, able to revive and fully flourish so many warm or lost souls.
Thus the reign of the divine Heart of Jesus will endlessly extend. Truly, your mere presence attracts the graces that convert and sanctify souls, since grace springs from the divine Heart of Jesus upon us all, through your maternal hands.
O immaculate virgin, chosen from among all women to give the world the Savior;
You, who were the faithful servant of the Lord, give us to respond to Jesus' call and follow him on the way of life that leads to the Father.
Virgin all given to God, snatch us from sin, transform our hearts.
Queen of the Apostles, make us artisans of the Kingdom,
May our lives bear witness to the Gospel in the midst of our world in search of light, truth and love.
Share with us the concern for your motherly heart and also your lively hope: that none of your children may be lost.
O Mother of Jesus, tenderness of the Holy Spirit, may the whole creation celebrate with you the praise of God's infinite mercy and love.
Father Maximilian Kolbe was very devoted to the Virgin Mary since his childhood. He preached a lot about the Immaculate and gives beautiful meditations for the prayer of the rosary. Here are several quotations from her words about the Virgin Mary and her Son Jesus.
“Mary offers the Son: she is the Virgin of total offering and self-giving. Because it is the perfect property of Jesus, and Jesus is God and himself the property of the Eternal Father. "
“Surrender more and more to the hands of Jesus and the Immaculate! Do not be upset by setbacks and difficulties, but abandon everything to the Immaculate. She can do anything, she will do whatever she wants. "
"I myself am afraid of suffering and humiliation, but I am reassured, thinking that even Jesus, in the Garden of Olives, did not feel any different. Graces come when we need them! ”
The Immaculate "is the Queen of Heaven and Earth, our Mediatrix: through her hands all graces are poured out! O Queen, we hope with all our soul that you will take possession of our hearts and all our hearts without exception as soon as possible and totally. ”
Maximilien Kolbe had a special attachment to Lourdes, himself having his finger healed in his childhood by a little water from Lourdes. He became the messenger of Lourdes: "In Lourdes, the Immaculate chisels the pearls of her rosary and encourages Bernadette to recite it with her. If we wish to grow in the love of Jesus, we must meditate on the mysteries of the rosary with Mary by constantly repeating and whispering the Hail Mary.”
To learn more about the story of Maximilien Kolbe, there is a biography of Philippe Maxence that traces the exceptional events that marked his life, this book is entitled: Maximilien Kolbe: priest, journalist and martyr (1894-1941). For the young, there is also a comic:“ Maximilien Kolbe: A saint in Auschwitz. ”