St. Maximilian M. Kolbe | Saint of the Day | August 14


St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, most faithful son of St. Francis, the beggar of Assisi, inflamed with love for God you journeyed through life practicing heroic virtues and performing true apostolic deeds. Turn your gaze on us who honor you and have recourse to you. Radiating with the light of the Immaculate Virgin, you brought countless souls to holiness and introduced them to various apostolic endeavors for the victory of good over evil and to thereby extend the Kingdom of God throughout the whole world. Obtain for us the light and the strength we need to do good and to bring many souls to Christ. Perfectly conformed and united with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, you achieved such a high degree of love of neighbor that you were able to freely offer your life in exchange for a fellow prisoner in witness of true evangelical charity. Beg the Lord on our behalf that, filled with the same fire of love, our faith and good example might also bring others to Christ and secure for us the reward of everlasting life, where we shall praise Him together with you in eternal glory. Amen.


St. Maximilian, amidst the hate and lonely misery of Auschwitz, you brought love into the lives of fellow captives, and sowed the seeds of hope amidst despair.  You bore witness to the world, by word and deed, that only “Love alone creates.” Help me to become more like yourself.  With you and Mary and the Church, may I proclaim that only “Love alone creates.”  To the hungry and oppressed, the naked and homeless, the scorned and hated, the lonely and despairing, may I proclaim the power of Christ’s love, which endures forever and ever.  Amen.


St. Maximilian Kolbe, faithful follower of St. Francis of Assisi, inflamed by the love of God you dedicated your life to the practice of virtue and to works of the apostolate.  Look down with favor upon us who devoutly confide in your intercession. Having consecrated yourself to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, you inspired countless souls to holy life and to various forms of the apostolate in order to do good to others and to spread the kingdom of God.  Obtain for us the grace by our lives and labors to draw many souls to Christ. In your close conformity to our Divine Savior, you reached such an intense degree of love that you offered your life to save a fellow prisoner.  Implore God that we, inflamed by such ardent charity, may through our living faith and our apostolic works witness Christ to our fellowman, and thus merit to join you in the blessed vision of God.  Amen.


St. Maximilian Kolbe, you gave your life so that a family might not be deprived of a husband and father. By your heroic martyrdom of charity, teach us that the value of family life is worth our sacrifices also. Just as you found in Mary the channel of those graces that strengthened you to be faithful to her Son, help us to rejoice also in her who was given to us as a mother by Jesus from the cross. Be with us, St. Maximilian, as we pray for the special needs of our family (Say petitions here). Amen.


St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, your life of love and labor for souls was sacrificed amid the horrors of a concentration camp and hastened to its end by an injection of a deadly drug. Look with compassion upon ___________________ who is now entrapped in addiction to drugs and whom we now recommend to your powerful intercession. Having offered your own life to preserve that of a family man, we turn to you with trust, confident that you will understand and help. Obtain for us the grace never to withhold our love and understanding, nor to fail in persevering prayer that the enslaving bonds of addiction may be broken and that full health and freedom may be restored to him / her whom we love. We will never cease to be grateful to God who has helped us and heard your prayer for us. Amen.


O Prisoner-Saint of Auschwitz, help me in my plight. Introduce me to Mary, the Immaculata, Mother of God. She prayed for Jesus in a Jerusalem jail. She prayed for you in a Nazi prison camp. Ask her to comfort me in my confinement. May she teach me always to be good. If I am lonely, may she say, “God is here.” If I feel hate, may she say, “God is love.” If I am tempted, may she say, “God is pure.” If I sin, may she say, “God is mercy.” If I am in darkness, may she say, “God is light.” If I am unjustly condemned, may she say, “God is truth.” If I have pain in soul or body, may she say, “God is peace.” If I lose hope, may she say: “God is with you all days, and so am I.” Amen.


St. Maximilian Kolbe, patron of the pro-life movement, hear this prayer of supplication that I address to you with confidence. St. Maximilian, I honor your life that was guided by the unshakable faith in the mystery of the Incarnation.  I admire your public witness for the sanctity of life and your ultimate sacrifice for the life of another when you offered yourself to save a fellow prisoner. I pray, please move the consciences of those contemplating abortion.  Please move to repentance, and healing, for the women and men who have chosen abortion over the gift of life. Please intercede for all the unborn children. Pray that their mothers will see, hear and know that what they carry in their womb is a person, a special and unique gift from God our Creator. Please comfort the women who suffer from the post-abortion trauma and inspire them to seek spiritual and psychological help. Please sustain the courage and wisdom of the pro-life movement, so that they may be peaceful witnesses to the sanctity of life.  Intercede for our young people who march and witness for life today that God may bless and protect them. Please move the hearts of our lawmakers, judges and fellow citizens so the scourge of abortion will no longer be the law of the land. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.


Mary, Mother of the Church, I come before you in the spirit of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who consecrated his Franciscan life and work to you without reserve. You accepted Maximilian’s self-offering; accept me. You led Maximilian to Christ; lead me. You formed Maximilian into a mirror of Christ; form me. Your union with Maximilian provided the backdrop for his works of evangelization and heroic acts of charity. Please grant, through the intercession of St. Maximilian, that I might fully collaborate with you and the Holy Spirit as an instrument for the upbuilding of Christ’s Church.  Amen.


Almighty and Eternal God, you gave us in the person of St. Maximilian an example of true devotion to the Immaculate Mother of our Savior and of unselfish love for our neighbor. Grant we beseech you through his intercession, that we may grow in our understanding of love of the Immaculata; that we may recognize her presence, her voice, her love and her power with us and be filled with an ardent desire and will to fulfill her will in every detail, and thus become sharers and true instruments of her most perfect response to you, in the Holy Spirit through Christ our Lord. Amen. This Polish Conventual Franciscan, whose feast day is August 14, was a missionary in Japan before returning to a Poland ravaged by war. Imprisoned at Auschwitz in 1941, he offered to take the place of a fellow prisoner condemned to death. John Paul II canonized him as a “martyr of charity.” 

The two crowns

Born in 1894 in ZduƄska Wola, in what is now Poland, Raimund Kolbe was an easygoing, ordinary boy. As any boy, he occasionally earned scoldings from his mother. “Son, what will become of you?”, she exclaimed when he was twelve. His mother noted that after that particular scolding, her son’s behavior changed. Worried that he might be sick, she asked what was wrong. Trembling, he told her, “I prayed very hard to Our Lady to tell me what would become of me…. Then the Virgin Mother appeared to me holding in her hands two crowns, one white and one red. She looked at me with love and asked me if I would like to have them. The white meant that I would remain pure and the red that I would be a martyr.” Not long afterward, the 13-year-old Raimund entered the Conventual Franciscans’ minor seminary. In 1910, he entered the novitiate as Brother Maximilian and was soon sent to study in Rome. While there, he and some friends founded the Militia Immaculatae [the Army of the Immaculate] to promote total consecration to the Mother who had looked at him with love.

Two “cities of Mary”

Ordained in 1918, the new priest returned to Poland, founding a monthly magazine and a printing press to further devotion to the Mother of God. He contracted tuberculosis, which compelled him to rest for a time, but it did not stop his zeal. By 1927, his publishing apostolate had grown so much that Father Maximilian founded a new friary, Niepokalanow, the “city of Mary,” outside Warsaw. The “city” wasn’t his but hers, he insisted, and to make that point clear, he soon asked his astonished superior if he could leave it in her hands and go on mission. Where? Japan. How will you live? “The Blessed Mother has her plan ready.” That was the beginning of a new “city of Mary,” Mugenzai no Sono, founded in 1931 on a hillside near Nagasaki. People told Father Maximilian that the spot was not good for building, that it had a bad view, but he insisted. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki 14 years later, destroying the city, the friary, protected by the hills that gave it a bad view, remained standing and was able to help hundreds of the injured.


Re-elected superior of Niepokalanow, Father Maximilian returned to Poland in 1936. He took up his old work with the publications, as Germany began its plans for the conquest of Europe. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The friary took in refugees, including many Jews, but by 1941 the invaders could no longer stand such a beacon of faith and humanity. Father Maximilian and four other friars were arrested. In May, he became prisoner 16670 at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Other prisoners remembered him, frail but full of peace, hearing confessions and comforting others under the cover of night. “Hate is not creative,” he whispered to those who came to him in despair, “only love is creative.”

Martyr of charity

Hate destroys. So when a prisoner escaped in late July 1941, the German commandant decided that, as punishment, ten of the escapee’s fellow prisoners would be chosen for the privilege of death by starvation. He walked up and down the lines of prisoners, choosing. “You!”, he said, pointing to Franciszek Gajowniczek, who burst into tears and cried out, “My wife and children!” And love is creative. So out of the ranks of prisoners, a man stepped forth. The other prisoners gaped in astonishment. “Take me instead. I have no wife or children.” “Who are you?” “A Catholic priest.” The commandant was so taken aback that he agreed. For two weeks, Father Maximilian consoled the men sealed with him into the starvation bunker. Cells like that, prisoners noted, were usually places of horrible, screaming delirium. But from there they heard men singing, praying, until finally, that priest was the only one still alive. The guards came in with a syringe filled with carbolic acid. The priest, weak but lucid, held out his arm, and on August 14, 1941, Maximilian Kolbe received his two crowns.