St. Maximilian Kolbe - Poland Pilgrimage, Catholic Pilgrimages & Tours - Spiritual journeys 206 Tours

St. Maximilian Kolbe Pilgrimage

The Story:

Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe, OFM was a Polish priest who was killed in Auschwitz after sacrificing his life for a stranger. At the age of twelve, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and he answered her call to live a chaste life as a martyr and dedicated his life to Mary. In 1907 he joined the Conventual Franciscans seminary, before continuing to Rome to earn doctorates in philosophy and theology. Kolbe was ordained a Priest in 1918 when he returned to Poland, preaching devotion to Mary, which was largely opposed. He contracted tuberculosis but survived. He taught in the Krakow seminary and founded a new Conventual Franciscan monastery at Niepokalanów which became a major publishing center for religious works, newspapers, and anti-Nazi publications. He also founded monasteries in Japan and India, and created a radio station upon return to Poland. When Poland was invaded by the Nazi’s, Kolbe converted the monastery into a hospital and provided shelter to over 2,000 Jews. In 1941 the Gestapo imprisoned Kolbe and moved him to Auschwitz where he continued to act as a priest, which resulted in consistent beatings and punishment. When 10 men were chosen to be starved to death, Kolbe volunteered to take the place of a man with a wife and children. After two weeks of starvation, only Kolbe was still alive – he prayed calmly throughout, until finally he accepted a lethal injection on August 14th. He was then cremated the following day, on the feast of the Assumption of Mary. He was Canonized on October 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II and is feast day is celebrated on August 14th. St. Maximilian Kolbe is the patron saint of families, Imprisoned people, Journalists, and the pro-life movement. The Basilica of the Immaculate Mediatrix of Grace is a major Shrine in his honor. Years before his death, he kept hair from haircut which are now first class relics. In Auschwitz and Krakow, Pilgrims can visit his prison cell and Martyrdom Museum.

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