Maximilian was born in
1894 in Poland and became a Franciscan. He contracted tuberculosis and, though he recovered, he
remained frail all his life. Before his ordination as a priest, Maximilian founded the Immaculata
Movement devoted to Our Lady. After receiving a doctorate in theology, he spread the Movement
through a magazine entitled "The Knight of the Immaculata" and helped form a community of 800 men,
the largest in the world.
Maximilian went to Japan where he built a comparable monastery and
then on to India where he furthered the Movement. In 1936 he returned home because of ill health.
After the Nazi invasion in 1939, he was imprisoned and released for a time. But in 1941 he was
arrested again and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
On July 31, 1941, in reprisal
for one prisoner´s escape, ten men were chosen to die. Father Kolbe offered himself in place of a
young husband and father. And he was the last to die, enduring two weeks of starvation, thirst, and
neglect. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982. His feast day is August 14th.
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