Canonized by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 10, 1982, St. Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan priest and missionary who died at Auschwitz. He was born in 1894 joining the Franciscans in 1907. He took his vows in 1914 and earned a doctorate in philosophy.

Maximilian edited “The Knight of the Immaculata,” an influential theological magazine. He went to Japan as missionary and built a monastery along with Japanese Catholic media. The monastery still serves today as a center of Franciscan work in Japan. Returning to Poland due to poor health, the Nazi arrested him in 1939 when they invaded Poland, released him, and arrested him again in 1940.

Known for leading Auschwitz prisoners in prayer, he offered himself to the Nazi’s in lieu of a young man about to be executed in reprisal for a prisoner escape. He was killed by injection of carbolic acid and his body cremated on the feast of the Assumption. His feast day is Aug. 14. He is the patron saint against drug addiction, for families, the imprisoned, journalists and polictical prisoners.

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