St. Maximilian offered ultimate act of charity

To the editor:

August 14 marked the 75th anniversary of the death of St. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv., Polish Roman Catholic priest killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz. He was born Rajmund Kolbe in 1894 at Zdunska Wola and was ordained a priest in Rome on April 28, 1918. Father Kolbe fostered devotion to Jesus and Mary via printing.

A nobleman donated some land west of Warsaw where, on Dec. 8, 1927, Father Kolbe established Niepokalanow or the City of the Immaculate. Nearly 800 friars served there. He also founded a community and worked in Japan but returned to Poland because of health issues.

On Sept. 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. In February 1941, Father Kolbe was arrested a second time and on May 28, 1941, he was sent to Auschwitz. In July 1941, some prisoners escaped and 10 other prisoners were going to be executed, including a married man with a family named Franciszek Gajowniczek who loudly asked what would become of his family?

Father Maximilian Kolbe offered his life in exchange and the commandant approved. He was starved and then given a shot of carbolic acid, and he died on Aug. 14, 1941, in service to others. He is a martyr of charity and was canonized a saint on Oct. 10, 1982.

Joseph G. V. Maciora, Pittsfield



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