On this feast day, we celebrate the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan priest who volunteered to die in place of a fellow prisoner at Auschwitz. His act of self-sacrifice is a reminder of the power of love and forgiveness.
Kolbe was born in Poland in 1894. He entered the Franciscan order at the age of 16 and was ordained a priest in 1918. He founded the Militia Immaculatae, a lay movement dedicated to spreading devotion to the Virgin Mary.
In 1939, Kolbe was arrested by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. He was put in a block with 999 other prisoners who were chosen to be killed in an experiment. Kolbe volunteered to take the place of one of the prisoners, a father of a family.
Kolbe died in the gas chamber on August 14, 1941. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.