Father Maximilian Kolbe, who died today in 1941, was a Polish priest who died in Auschwitz. A theologian and teacher noted for his devotion to Mary, he undertook missionary work in China and Japan before returning to Poland because of ill-health before the war.
When war broke out he refused to take advantage of his mixed German-Polish parentage to claim German citizenship. His monastery at Niepokalanów hid up to to 2,000 Jews from the Nazis and produced anti-Nazi publications and radio broadcasts.
Kolbe was arrested on February 17, 1941, and transferred to Auschwitz on May 28. He was subjected to beating and other ill-treatment. When three prisoners escaped, 10 others were selected to be starved to death in an underground bunker. When one of them cried out "My wife! My children!", Kolbe volunteered to take his place. He was the last left alive after two weeks of starvation and dehydration and was eventually killed by an injecton of carbolic acid. He is said to have raised his arm and waited calmly for the needle.
Kolbe was canonized as saint by Pope John Paul II in 1982. Below are ten of his quotes.
1. No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hetacombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?
2. [Jesus] remains among us until the end of the world. He dwells on so many altars, though so often offended and profaned.
3. The most deadly poison of our time is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise him to the greatest extent of our powers.
4. A single act of love makes the soul return to life.
5. The Cross is the school of love.
6. Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving...Without sacrifice there is no love.
7. For a book from which to learn how to grow in the love of God, there is no better book than Jesus Christ crucified.
8. If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.
9. Courage, my sons. Don't you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible. [Said when he was first arrested.]
10. For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more.
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