Saturday, July 15, 2006

I will take his place (Maximillian Kolbe)

On February 17, 1941, Gestapo agents seized Franciscan Fr. Maximillian Kolbe and four other Brothers and first took them to Pawiak prison in Warsaw. The night before his arrest, Fr. Kolbe said, “What indescribable happiness! What a great grace it is to seal one’s ideal with one’s life.” For many times, the Gestapo have been asking Fr. Kolbe to take German citizenship, since Kolbe is a German surnamce. But Fr. Kolbe refused to do so both on religious and patriotic reasons. Also, his work in the Catholic press was not pleasing to the Nazis.

While in prison, Father was violently beaten for being a religious and a priest. He wrote to his children remaining at Niepokalanow, “The Immaculata, most loving Mother, has always surrounded us with tenderness and will watch over us always Let us be led by her, more and more perfectly where she wishes and according to her pleasure, so that, fulfilling our duties to the end, we may, through love, save all souls.” Many times in prison, Fr. Kolbe spoke of martyrdom. One of his brothers told him that what they are suffering for is for the country. But Father Kolbe told him, “Son, I tell you that if it is thus, the Martyrdom is certainly for the faith.” There, he was beaten many times for wearing a crucifix.

Several days later Father Kolbe was transferred to the camp at Auschwitz. The priest, who was too ill to walk, have been pushed, kicked and beaten. He tried to do what was commanded to him, like hauling wheel barrels full of gravel to build crematorium walls. But no matter what violence they used on the priest, Fr. Kolbe never ceased loving them.

Fr. Kolbe infuriated the Nazis because of his priesthood. To punish him, the guards would save the most demeaning work for him. At one time, they even set their vicious dogs on him. Many times, he said, “For Jesus, I am prepared to suffer.” The Nazis also used Fr. Kolbe for carrying corpses to the crematorium. He blessed each dead people he carried.

Soon hospitalized following severe beatings, he spent his nights hearing confessions, despite it being forbidden and the threat of reprisals. He knew how to turn evil itself into good, and one day said to a sick person, “Hate is not a creative force. Only love is creative. These sufferings will not make us bend, but they should help us to be even stronger. They are necessary, with other sacrifices, so that those who come after us may be happy.” He shared among his companions the experience of the Paschal Mystery, in which suffering lived in Faith is transformed into joy. He was so happy being hopspitalized because so many people there needed a priest. He shared with them food which he really saved for them after going out from the hospital.

One day, he sneaked in some hosts. If Fr. Kolbe was caught saying Mass, it would mean immediate execution. He distributed among his fellown prisoners the Eucharist, but he never accepted any rations from them. When he left the hospital, he was sent to a cell called Blocked 14.

In the end of July, a prisoner from the block where Fr. Kolbe was kept escaped. It was a policy in the camp that for each prisoner who escaped, 10 would be killed brutally for his place. The men in Block 14 lived in fear and torment.

The next day, the prisoners were lined up under the scorching sun. They were not given anything to eat or drink. Many of them collapsed. As the night approached, other prisoners were sent to watch the helpless men from block 14. Commander Fritsch announced that ten of them would be chosen to die since the escapee was not found.

When the ten were chosen, one of the men, Francis Gajowniczek, cried out, “My poor wife! My poor children! Goodbye!” Hearing this, Fr. Kolbe walked up to the front of the commandant, a bold act which is punishable by shooting on the spot. He told the commandant, “I would like to die in the place of one of these men.” Fritsch asked, “Why?” Kolbe said, “I am sick and the weak must be liquidated. I am an old man sir, and good for nothing. My life is no longer of use to anyone.” He was asked whose place would he want to take. “The one with the wife and children.” “And who are you?” “A Catholic priest.” Gajowniczek was crossed out from the list, and Fr. Kolbe was sent with the nine other men to the starvation bunker.

The starvation bunker was an underground cell where the rays of the sun cold not manage to reach. It was a virtual grave itself. The men were left there to die. A witness said that Fr. Kolbe would lead his fellow prisoners in prayers anmd singing that passing by the cell was like “descending into the crypt of a church.” Sometimes, the prisoners would be so absorbed in prayer that they wouldn’t notice that the guards would come in and check them. Only when the guards would shout at them would they stop. The prisoners died one by one. On August 14, 1941, two weeks later, only four men remained alive in the starvation bunker. Among them was Fr. Kolbe. The four men were killed with lethal injection. Fr. Kolbe, with a prayer on his lips gave his arm to his executioner. Maximilian Kolbe was 47 years old when he was executed. Francis Gajowniczek to live to a very old age to the point that he managed to attend Fr. Kolbe’s canonization in 1980.
e camp that for each prisoner who escaped, 10 would be killed brutally for his pace. walls. is for the cou
When he was young, he reportedly saw a vision of Mary, offering two crowns. One of the crowns was white, which symbolized purity, and the other was red, symbolizing martyrdom. Our Lady asked him which of the crowns would he like to take. Young Maximillian chose both.

2 Comments:

Blogger Willing Catholic Martyr said...

What a bunch of rubbish.

There was no gassing of Jews or anyone else during WWII. It's a lie, just like 9/11, just like the 'Swine Flu', and it serves the same agenda, NWO.

If Kolbe actually said "save ALL souls," and believed it, then he was a heretic on that point alone, let alone being subject to the heretic Antipope Pius XII.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Ann said...

This is a very true, very wonderful account of pure love being lived out in the midst of the most horrible circumstances. Thank you for sharing these wonderful life stories with us.

BTW, for "willing catholic martyr", I visited Dachau as a young child and saw the photos, the bunkers, the ovens and other horrible devices there. (Have you visited any former camps?)

Even if you still believe such things are lies, look for the beautiful and glorious things which happened...such as the firemen who helped the injured and dying during 9/11 (no matter what the cause)...the many nurses, etc. who care for those with ANY kind of miserable flu...there are always wonderful stories behind tragedies of any sort. Most lead back to the living love of Jesus Christ the Lord.

9:08 PM  

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