Today we celebrate the feast day of one of my favorite saints, someone I feel very close to spiritually – the great Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar who gave his entire life to the service of Our Lady, whom led him to her divine Son Jesus. Kolbe was a fascinating soul, possessing that rare (but beautiful) combination of a great intellect juxtaposed with a simple, passionate faith – on fire with love for the Mother of God.
He earned two doctorates by age 21, started a popular Marian magazine, established a radio station to serve Our Lady, became a journalist and religious media pioneer, founded the spiritual movement the Knights of the Immaculata, and was a missionary to the East where he dedicated cities named after Our Lady. He died a martyr in Auschwitz, giving his life for another Polish prisoner. He was a mystic who experienced an apparition of Our Lady as a10-year old child, an apparition that porphesied his martyrdom.
Here is a beautiful painting that I was able to find of Kolbe online — here’s a link to the artist’s web site. I appreciate especially the fine detail. Notice not only how the Miraculous Medal — whose devotion Fr. Kolbe helped spread throughout the world – is accentuated by his rosary but also the Marian symbol just above his right shoulder.
It is said that he grew a long beard when traveling to Japan for missionary work since in the East a long beard conveyed the image of a wisdom figure, gaining acceptance and respectability in order to better promote the Gospel.
Here’s a nice meditation from Fr. Kolbe:
“To arouse that love for the Immaculata, therefore, by enkindeling it in one’s own heart, to communicate this fire to those who live close to us, to set on fire with this love all souls and each one in particular—those who live now and those who will live in the future, to make this flame burst forth ever more intensely and without restrictions in ourselves and all over the earth: such is our purpose. Everything else is just a means.”
The French writer Andre Frossard wrote of the intense interior freedom that Kolbe received from his deep devotion and love of the Virgin Mary, a defiant serenity came from this devotion that no evil — not even that horrific evil of Auschwitz — could break. “It fortified him; it ordered his thought; it liberated him. And his view of the world was gently noble, the view of those whom nothing troubles, nothing frightens, who know where they have come from and where they are going. At Auschwitz, he lived only for her.”
Thank you Jesus and Mary for this great Polish saint!! What an example for our time.
(also, please see my story of Fr. Maximilian Kolbe’s Marian apparition on MinistryValues.com)