Wednesday, August 14, 2013


cc photo by Michael 1952 on flickr

Name: Raymond Kolbe
Birthday: January 8, 1894
Birthplace: Zdunska, Wola, Poland
Parents: Julius Kolbe and Maria Dabrowska
Siblings: Francis, Joseph, Walenty and Andrew
Feast day: August 14 

- Kolbe was baptized Raymond on the day of his birth at the church of The Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Later, his family moved to Pabianice, Poland. He was the second child of five children two of whom died at an early age.

- Raymond was a mischievous child. At the age of ten, his mother who was irked by one of his pranks, asked him "Little Raymond, whatever is going to become of you?" That question left a mark on young Raymond's mind. Later on, Raymond prayed in front of the image (a painting) of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St. Matthew's church at Pabianice. The Virgin Mary emerged from her painting holding two crowns, one was white, the crown of purity and the other one was red, the crown of martyrdom and presented to them to the boy. Little Raymond accepted both crowns.

- At the age of sixteen, Raymond and his elder brother Francis entered the Conventual Franciscan Order in Lwow, Poland. In September 1910, Kolbe became a novice and took the name Maximilian.

- In September 1911, he made his first vows, and in November 1914, he professed his final vows in Rome. And also in Rome, from 1912 to 1915, he studied philosophy, theology, mathematics and physics.

- He earned a doctorate in Philosophy in 1915 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and four years later in 1919, he earned a doctorate in Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure.

- In 1917, along with six companions, he founded the Militia Imaculatae (Army of the Immaculate), a worldwide evangelization movement that encourages total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a means of spiritual renewal for individual and society. (Source:

- In 1918, Kolbe was ordained priest, and returned to Poland in 1919.

- In 1922, he founded the publication of a religious magazine the "Knight of the Immaculata." Because of the growing popularity of the magazine, in 1927, he built an evangelization center near Warsaw, Poland called Niepokolanow (city of the Immaculata) where he organized the growing number of priests and brothers to write and publish the magazine. The center was also a house of prayer, work, study and refuge for Jews during World War II.

- Together with four brothers, he left Poland for Japan in March 1930. They arrived in Nagasaki in April 24. One month later, he published the first edition of "Seibo No Kishi", the Japanese version of the "Knight of the Immaculata." He also built a friary "Mugenzai No Sono", which is Japan's equivalent to Poland's Niepokolanow. After six years in Japan, they returned to Poland.

- In February 1941, he was arrested by the German Secret State Police or the Gestapo and put in Pawiak Prison in Warsaw, Poland. This is because of the articles that criticized the Nazis that he published in his magazine.

- After three months in Pawiak Prison, he was transferred to Auschwitz death camp in Southern Poland where millions of prisoners suffered and died, majority of which were Jews.

- In August 1941, at the death camp, after the evening roll call, it was found out that a prisoner had escaped. By way of reprisal, ten prisoners were picked at random to be starved to death at an underground cell. But one of the ten prisoners Francis Gajowniczek cried because he had a wife and two children. Father Kolbe approached the commander and asked to take the place of Francis. The commander then exchanged the two prisoners. Francis Gajowniczek was saved, while Father Kolbe was brought at the underground cell.

- On August 14, 1941, eve of the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, after two weeks of starvation and dehydration, Father Kolbe was still alive, but the SS guards killed him by injecting him with carbolic acid. The following day, his body was cremated.

- Father Kolbe was beatified by Pope Paul VI on October 17, 1971, and canonized on October 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II. In attendance at Father Kolbe's canonization was Francis Gajowniczek.

It must be noted that devotion to the mother of God was the center of Kolbe's spirituality. He believed that the shortest, surest way to conversion and personal sanctification was consecrating oneself to God through the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"One deed of mercy is actually a perpetual act no matter how small or insignificant."
- St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.

- Ocean of Mercy DVD