August 14 is the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe.
From an early age, Maximilian Kolbe (St. Max) cultivated a strong devotion to Mary. In fact, when he was just 12 years old, he had a vision of Our Lady:
“That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.”
After being ordained in 1918, Maximilian worked to inspire more devotion to Mary across Poland and prayed for the conversion of sinners and enemies of the Church through the intercession of our heavenly Mother.
In 1936, the World War II invasion by Germany began. Refusing to become a German citizen, Maximilian sought to save his brothers and sisters affected by the war. In fact, he is believed to have hidden around 2,000 Jews from Nazi soldiers.
About five years later, though, Maximilian was arrested by the Germans and eventually taken to Auschwitz.
There, he continued to follow his vocation, tending to the spiritual needs of his fellow prisoners. He even volunteered to take the place of a husband and father who was chosen for death by starvation.
During nearly two weeks of dehydration and starvation, Maximilian was not afraid. Instead, he led the group in prayers to Mary. The group lived much longer than the soldiers expected.
Eventually, German soldiers gave him a lethal injection. Maximilian died on August 14 and was cremated a day later on the feast day of the Assumption of Mary.
Maximilian Kolbe was canonized by Pope John Paul II and also declared a martyr. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, prisoners, families, and the pro-life movement.
Get to know St. Maximilian through this Spotify playlist inspired by his life — featuring artists Harriet Curtis-Lowe and Josh Garrels, and themes of courage and trust.