Maximilian Kolbe, whom the Catholic Church celebrates today as a saint, is well-known for his willingness to take the place of another man in a death camp during World War II. Maximilian, a Franciscan friar, stepped forward to save the life of a married man with children and consequently died of starvation and – in the end – a lethal injection of poison. This ultimate sacrifice for the good of another is, of course, worthy of sainthood but the entirety of this saint’s life is worthy and prepared him with the courage needed to give his life in martyrdom.
Here are a few of the facts about this saint who was dedicated to God and Mary Immaculate throughout his life. In 1927 he founded and led a monastery that grew to house 700 men – the largest monastery in the world. He supervised the publication of religious magazines, including The Knight of the Immaculata, that had a press run of 750,000 copies a month, part of an endeavor that ran to about 60 million copies annually. In addition to his devotion to Mary Immaculate, he has become known as the patron of families, those recovering from drug addiction, prisoners, amateur radio operators, journalists, political prisoners and the pro-life movement. He died at the age of 47 years.