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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Brian Fraga | author
Aug 01, 2017
Filed under Saints
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St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894 – 1941)

Feast Day: August 14
Canonization: 1982

St. Maximilian Kolbe was born on Jan. 8, 1894, in what was then the Kingdom of Poland. The Conventual Franciscan friar is best known for his martyrdom in the German death camp of Auschwitz during World War II.

When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, St. Maximilian Kolbe became one of the few friars to remain in their monastery at Niepokalanów. There, he opened up a temporary hospital and was imprisoned for three months when his town was captured.

On Feb. 17, 1941, the German Gestapo arrested Kolbe and shut down the monastery. At Auschwitz, Kolbe voluntarily took the place of a family man whom the Nazis had chosen to face death by starvation. During his last days, Kolbe remained calm as he led prayers with the prisoners. After two weeks of being starved and deprived of water, the guards hastened his death through a lethal injection of carbolic acid.

He died on Aug. 14 and his remains were cremated the next day on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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