Saint of Drug Addiction
Maximilian Kolbe’s life was an example of unselfish love of all mankind, complete devotion to God, dedication to Our Lady and the pursuit of spreading and living the word of God. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
Raymond Kolbe (Maximilian was his friar’s name) was born in 1894 near Lodz in Poland under Russian rule. His parents were weavers who worked from home. When he became a Franciscan in 1910 his parents also undertook the monastic life. His mother became a Benedictine, his father became a Franciscan. His father left the order to run a religious bookstore, after which he enlisted with Pilsudski’s army to fight the Russians, where he was captured and hanged as a traitor in 1914.
Maximilian studied at Rome and was ordained in 1919. He returned to Poland and taught Church history in a seminary.
He left the seminary and founded the Immaculata Movement devoted to Our Lady and dedicated to spreading the Roman Catholic faith. After receiving a doctorate in theology, he spread the Movement through a magazine entitled "The Knight of the Immaculata" and helped form a community of 800 men, the largest in the world. He established a printing press and published the periodical for the members of his association.
Maximilian built a friary west of Warsaw which eventually housed 762 Franciscans and printed eleven periodicals (one with a circulation of over a million), including a daily newspaper.
He went to Asia in 1930 where he built a monastery and founded friaries in Nagasaki and India. In 1936 he returned home because of ill health and was then sent to supervise the original friary near Warsaw.
When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, he knew that the friary would be seized, and sent most of the friars home. He was imprisoned briefly and then released, and returned to the friary, where he and the other friars sheltered 3000 Poles and 1500 Jews, and continued to publish a newspaper encouraging its readers.
In May 1941 the friary was closed down and Maximilian and four companions were taken to Auschwitz, where they worked with the other prisoners. Maximilian carried on his priestly work hearing confessions and celebrating the Lord's Supper with bread and wine smuggled in for that purpose.
In order to discourage escapes, the camp had a rule that if a man escaped, 10 men would be killed in retaliation. In July 1941 a man from Kolbe's group escaped so the remaining men were led out and 10 were selected, including a Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek. Maximilian stepped forward and said, "I am a Catholic priest. Let me take his place. I am old. He has a wife and children." The officer had more use for a young worker than for an old one, and was happy to make the exchange.
The 10 prisoners were placed in a large cell and left to endure two weeks of starvation and thirst. Maximilian encouraged the others to pray, sing psalms, and meditate on the Passion of Christ. After those two weeks, only four were alive, and only Maximilian was fully conscious. The officer then ordered the four to be killed with injections of carbolic acid on August 14, 1941.
Blessed Saint Maximilian
with your unselfish love of
mankind and your
pure belief in the
word of God,
let your light show
me how I can
live a better life.
This prayer pack is designed
for those who need the
Power of Prayer to help
them in their fight against
This is a Novena to St Maximilian Kolbe
who, while in the service of Our Lord,
showed a remarkable love of mankind
by giving his life for another.
The Novena can be prayed
over nine hours (one per hour)
or over nine days (one per day).