Feast of St Maximillian Kolbe Reflection:
Maximilian Kolbe was born in 1894 in Poland. He joined the Franciscans and was ordained a priest. He had great devotion to the Immaculate heart of Mary and spread the devotion throughout Europe, Japan and India.
At the outbreak of World War II he was in Poland when Germany invaded. He was arrested in 1939 but later released.
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. He was the last to die, enduring two weeks of starvation, thirst, and neglect. In 1982, Maximilian was canonized by Pope John Paul II.
The man who Fr Maximilian replaced in the death camp that day was called Franciszek Gajowniczek. He survived the war and lived to 1995 and was one of the principle guests at the ceremony to canonize Fr Maximilian.
At our parish Mass this morning our local priest told of a friend of his, also a priest, who had met Franciszek Gajowniczek when he came to Ireland. The priest said that he was a very humble man who had great faith.
When we get this close to people who are affected by saints we begin to grasp something of the beautiful teaching of the ‘communion of saints’ and how close we are all interconnected. I know the priest that out PP referred too. Thinking that I know a man who met Franciszek Gajowniczek who was saved by Fr Maximilian brings the reality of the saints very close to home.