In 1939 the Nazis took control of Poland. Maximilian Mary Kolbe and his friars were arrested. Later, they were released in less than three months, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
In 1941 Maximilian Kolbe was arrested again. The Nazis wanted to kill the leaders.
While in a concentration camp, a prisoner escaped.
The commandant announced that ten men would die for any one man who escaped.
The commandant chose ten men at random. As they were being marched away to the starvation bunkers, Number 16670 dared to step from the line. “I would like to take that man’s place. He has a wife and children.”
“Who are you?”
The commandant agreed and ordered Father Kolbe to go with the nine.
In the “block of death” they were ordered to strip naked, and their slow starvation began.
However, Maximilian Kolbe kept the prisoners cheerful. As they were dying, the guards and prisoners could hear singing and praying coming from the starvation bunkers. By the eve of the Assumption there were still four prisoners left alive and they needed the starvation bunkers for more prisoners.
The jailer came to finish Kolbe off as he sat in a corner praying.
Fr. Kolbe lifted his arm willingly to receive injection of carbolic acid.
They burned his body with all the others.
He was beatified in 1971 and canonized in 1982. The man, whose life he saved, was a witness at his canonization.
FAITH ACTION: People may treat us cruelly, with utter disdain. However, we must return all with the love of God. Pray for the grace that guided the martyrs this day.