Relics of St Maximilian Kolbe

 

The Relics of the Polish Franciscan saint Maximilian Kolbe, who was canonised by St. John Paul II, are coming to the Diocese later this month.

 

The schedule is as follows:

 

Friday 20 January 2017

 

King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen University

6.00pm: Celebration in honour of St Maximilian Kolbe with His Relics followed by Mass followed by Mass and the veneration of the Relics.

 

 

Saturday 21 January 2017

 

Pluscarden Abbey

9.00am: Mass, followed by veneration of the relics.

11.00am: Celebration in honour of St Maximilian Kolbe, with an opportunity to venerate his relics.

12.40pm: Prayer during the Day.

 

St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen

4.00pm: Celebration in honour of St Maximilian Kolbe, with his Relics followed by veneration of the Relics.

7.00pm: Mass

 

 

Sunday 22 January 2017

 

St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen

8.00am: Mass, followed by veneration of the relics.

9.30am: Mass in Polish, followed by veneration of the Relics.

11.15am: Mass. Veneration of the relics until 3.00pm.

3.00pm: Mass in Polish, followed by veneration of the relics.

 

King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen University

6.30pm: Mass, followed by veneration of the relics.

 

 

St. Maximilian Kolbe was born as Raymund Kolbe on January 8 in Poland.  He was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death Camp of Auschwitz during World War II.

St. Maximilian Kolbe was very active in promoting the Immaculate Virgin Mary and is known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary.  Kolbe’s life was strongly influenced in 1906 by a childhood vision of the Virgin Mary when he was 12 years old.

“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.”

In 1907 Kolbe and his elder brother, Francis joined the Conventual Franciscans.  In 1910, Kolbe was given the religious name Maximilian, after being allowed to enter the novitiate.  He professed his first vows in 1911, and final vows in 1914

Kolbe earned a doctorate in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University at the age of 21, and a doctorate in theology by the time he was 28.

St. Maximilian Kolbe organised the Militia Immaculata (Army of the Immaculate One) after witnessing demonstrations against Pope St. Pius X and Benedict XV.

In 1918, he was ordained a priest and continued his work of promoting Mary throughout Poland.  Kolbe founded a monthly, operated a religious publishing press, and founded a new Conventual Franciscan monastery at Niepokalanow, which became a major religious publishing centre.  He also founded monasteries in Japan and India.

In 1936, Kolbe’s poor health forced him to return home to Poland.  Once the WWII invasion by Germany began, he became one of the only brothers to remain in the monastery, where he opened up a temporary hospital to aid those in need.  After a three month spell in prison, he returned to his monastery and continued his work, providing shelter for refugees, which included hiding 2,000 Jews from German persecution.  He received permission to continue his religious publishing, with the monastery acting as a publishing house, issuing a number of anti-Nazi German publications.

On February 17, 1941, the monastery was shut down.  Kolbe was arrested by the German Gestapo and taken to the Pawiak prison.  Three months later, was transferred to Auschwitz.  Kolbe was the victim of severe violence and harassment, however never abandoned his priesthood.  At the end of July 1941, three prisoners disappeared from the camp, prompting the deputy camp commander to pick 10 men to be starved to death in an underground bunker to deter further escape attempts.  When one of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek cried out, “My wife! My children!”, Kolbe volunteered to take his place.

During these last days of his life it is said that Kolbe led prayers to Our Lady with the prisoners and remained calm. After two weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe remained alive. The guards wanted the bunker emptied, so gave him a lethal injection of carbolic acid. Kolbe is said to have raised his left arm and calmly awaited death.  St. Maximilian Kolbe died on August 14 and his remains were cremated on August 15, the same day as the Assumption of Mary feast day.

Recognised as the Servant of God, Kolbe was beatified as a “Confessor of the Faith” by Pope Paul VI on October 17th 1971, and canonised by Pope John Paul II on October 10th 1982.  Pope John Paul II declared Kolbe not a confessor, but a martyr.

Kolbe is often depicted in a prison uniform and with a needle being injected into an arm. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, prisoners, families, and the pro-life movement.  His feast day is celebrated on August 14.