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St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941)

His name was Raymond, or Mundek. It is well known that, as number 16670 in the German concentration camp Auschwitz, he went to starve to death in the place of fellow inmate Franciszek Gajowniczek.

But few know that he was a titan at work, a volcano of ideas, and a talented builder throughout his entire life. Already in high school, Mundek was nicknamed “the Franciscan astronaut,” while in the Krakow monastery, he was known as “mad Max.” He was fascinated by aviation and missiles. He claimed that man will one day fly to the moon. He wanted to build a device that would recreate sounds from the past in order to hear Jesus preach the Sermon on the Mount.

In 1927, he started to build a Franciscan monastery in Niepokalanów near Warsaw from the ground up. In a short period of time, the complex consisted of dozens of buildings with its own power plant, narrow-gauge railway, and fire brigade, as well as a hospital, bakery, and creamery. In 1939, it was the largest Catholic monastery in the world.

  1. Maximilian also created a media empire.By the end of 1938, the circulation of “Knights of the Immaculata” reached a million copies.To speed up printing, the monk paired the printing press with a diesel engine. In Niepokalanów, he planned to pave a runway and distribute the written works by air. When he decided to go on missions to Japan, he learned the language while traveling by boat. When he felt the desire to do radio, he joined the Polish Amateur Radio Union. He planned to establish the world's first Catholic television.

But most importantly: he always did everything for others, never for himself. And when his time of trial in Auschwitz came – he followed the footsteps of Jesus, who gave His life for others.

When attempts were made to create a parish and build a church dedicated to Fr. Maximillian in Nowa Huta in the 1970s, despite reluctance from the Communists – everything started symbolically, from the first Masses celebrated in a wooden hut in which SS men guarding prisoners from the camp in Płaszów took cover.


The places associated with St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941):

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe), ul. Więźniów Oświęcimia 20, Oświęcim Site of the extermination of victims of the Holocaust and the Nazi system, where Saint Maximilian Kolbe also lost his life. The Fr... (read more)
St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish
St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, os. Tysiąclecia 86, Krakow The patron of the parish is Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan and martyr in the Nazi camp at Auschwitz. The first devotion to Blessed Maximilian Kolbe took place here, even before the... (read more)