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The Apostle In Love With The Immaculata

by Father Stefano Manelli, O.F.M., Conv., S.T.D.


St. Maximilian Kolbe

On October 10, 1982, at St. Peter's, Blessed Maximilian Mary Kolbe, O.F.M., Conventual, was canonized for his most outstanding heroic virtues. It is just forty-five years ago that Father Maximilian Kolbe was martyred in the Nazi prison camp of Auschwitz, after Father Maximilian freely offered to die in the place of an unjustly condemned fellow prisoner whom he hardly knew. Pope John Paul II has declared him "the patron of our difficult century." We are happy to publish this article to enable more people to know St. Maximilian, whom God has raised up in our times as a model of deep faith, heroic charity and especially of immense love for Our Lady. The key to this Saint's holiness is his ever-increasing love towards Mary Our Mother. Saint Maximilian set no limits to his love for God's Mother and in practice he showed his magnificent devotion towards Her by an intense prayer life which bore fruit in a marvelous Marian apostolate during his lifetime, and he continues to guide from Heaven his Marian apostolate, which uses the mass media to bring people to a greater knowledge and love of Jesus and Mary.

St. Maximilian Kolbe was not deceived by the labels 'left' and 'right'. He knew that both Nazism and Communism are anti-God and anti-Christ. It was because St. Maximilian was a fervent Catholic priest that he was imprisoned by the Nazis, where they killed him. Our Lady predicted that anti-Christian forces of Communism with its headquarters in Russia would indeed succeed in scourging the whole world if we did not listen in time to Her Message at Fatima. We must choose today to be on the side of God. We must obey Our Lady of Fatima in our time to ensure we remain on the side of God.

"For Thee, Immaculate One"

All copies of this first number easily sold out. Saint Kolbe could think at once of printing ten thousand of the second issue. But where would he get the money? At that time inflation had hit Poland and the little money he had at his disposal would be apt to make anyone give up.

Maximilian appealed to the Father Guardian for a little help, but received only this answer, "What can I say? The friary does not have the means. It is up to you to get yourself out of this difficulty."

What could he do? He could pray. Maximilian went into the church and went over to the altar of the Immaculate Virgin. He saw an envelope on it. On the envelope were the words, "For Thee, Immaculate One." He took the envelope and opened it. It contained the exact amount needed for the second issue of the Knight of the Immaculata. And so the review stayed in business, growing in circulation from month to month.

Who wrote for the review? At the start Saint Maximilian practically did it all. His style of writing about the Madonna was simple, clear, effective. He knew very well that by far most of the readers had only moderate schooling. What he said was substantial and solid. He instructed them, exhorted them, moved them onward in the knowledge and love of the Immaculate Virgin.

In order to speed circulation, Saint Maximilian did not wait for subscriptions, but sent his review to whoever asked for it. Then donations came in automatically in sufficient measure for him to always carry on. A Providence from his heavenly Mother was taking care of him.

"Brother Machinery"

When he had started printing over fifty thousand a month, Maximilian began to think about having his own press. This may have seemed foolishness, and even a bigger foolishness than his other projects. But had Maximilian not called himself "the Immaculate Virgin's fool"?

This seemingly foolish project became a reality when, with the help of the Immaculate Virgin, the Knight of the Immaculata acquired its own printing machinery - "Brother machinery," as Kolbe called it.

In order to have a bigger and more suitable place, he considered setting everything up in Grodno, a mountain area in north Poland. And then, together with the friars assigned to work with him, Saint Maximilian moved there and continued the work without let-up.

Editing, writing, printing - these were his daily chores, in addition to the time devoted to prayer, Mass, Divine Office, the confessional, and teaching catechism in a town about two miles from Grodno. He prayed and worked, he wrote and he held class, whether he was running a fever or not, whether he felt weak or strong. It was useless to worry about it, for time was passing so swiftly, and he wanted to completely sacrifice himself for the Immaculate Virgin.

"My day is truly filled with work," he wrote to his brother, Father Alphonsus. "The number of readers is growing by great strides. The Immaculate Virgin leads Her review onward with a strong hand. I have no time to be sick, even if sometimes my face turns red with fever, even if I always feel weak. I repeat: I do not have time to be sick".

(Continued Next Issue)