Saint Maximilian Kolbe


Saint Maximilian Kolbe, 1894-1941

August 14

Raymund Kolbe was born in a small town in Poland in 1894. As a young boy, he had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary who offered him a choice of two crowns, one white, which represented purity, and one red, which represented martyrdom. Young Raymund said that he would take them both.

Raymund became a Franciscan priest and changed his name to Maximilian Maria in honor of Mary. He worked very hard to defend the Catholic Church against enemies and to teach people to love Mary. He helped found a monastery in Japan, a seminary, numerous magazines and newspapers, as well as a radio station. He is the only canonized Saint to have an amateur radio license.

During World War II, he provided shelter for those fleeing the Nazis, including 2,000 Jews. In February 1941, Father Kolbe was arrested by the Gestapo, the Nazi police, and eventually taken to the death camp of Auschwitz. While he was there, the Nazis decided to starve some prisoners to death as a punishment. He offered to take the place of man who had a wife and children. 

Saint Maximilian prayed, sang hymns, and helped the other prisoners. After two weeks, he was the only one left alive, so the guards gave him a fatal shot of carbolic acid. He was canonized by Saint Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982. The man whose life he saved by taking his place was present at the ceremony. 

Discuss: Saint Maximilian Kolbe used magazines, newspapers, and a radio station to spread the Good News. What message about the Good News would you like to share with others?

Radio Show

Explain to the group that they are going to put together a radio show about the life of Saint Maximilian Kolbe.

  • Divide the group into pairs or trios.
  • Have the pairs or trios each choose a part of the Saint’s life that they would like to research and share with the rest of the group. For example, his growing up years, his use of media, or his life in Auschwitz.
  • Have the pairs or trios share what they have learned in a radio show format.