No Greater Love

CP&S re-blog from 2010:

I could never have anticipated the powerful mix of emotion and awe that gripped me as I stood in the doorway of the Auschwitz cell – that hallowed place of martyrdom in which Saint Maximilian Kolbe gave his life for another and, according to records, the place of death by starvation of my paternal grandfather some six months later.

The journey to Oswiecim/Auschwitz was for me in part a pilgrimage to the shrine of the holy Franciscan priest who, having embraced the two crowns of virginity and martyrdom his beloved heavenly Mother offered him, went on to live out fully the demands of such a gift. As priest and missionary both in his native Poland and abroad, he used all the means available to him to proclaim God’s kingdom on earth. He lived and died for his Master, for his Church and, in a most literal way in the sacrifice of his life, for his neighbour.

As the children of a man scarred by the terror and sorrow of his own father’s brutal deportation, internment and death in the concentration camp, we were often told the story of Maximilian Kolbe. We also heard anecdotes about our grandfather, whose weeks in the starvation bunker were said to have been blessed by a fellow prisoner, a dying priest, weak and sick with hunger yet spiritually strong enough to drag himself from one victim to another hearing confessions, blessing and absolving, preparing souls for their journey to eternity. Gazing into the cell, I remembered and I thanked God for shining His light so brightly into the darkness of Auschwitz, and for the redemptive power of the cross.

(Maximilian Maria Kolbe – b. 8 January 1894; d. 14 August 1941)

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12 Responses to No Greater Love

  1. The Raven says:

    A very beautiful and humbling post.


  2. Brother Burrito says:

    This priest’s story is surely worthy of a movie. Does anyone know if there is one in the pipeline, or already done?


  3. teresa says:

    I heard he is also a Saint for the Anglicans. The Benedictine Pater who gave me instructions on matters of faith is a great fan of Maximilian Kolbe.


  4. johnhenrycn says:

    I don’t know of a movie based on the life of Saint Maximilian Kolbe; but an excellent movie, The Ninth Day (German with subtitles) has been made about the hundreds (well over 2000, actually) of Catholic priests who were interned at the Dachau concentration camp:

    I would also recommend the book Priestblock 25487, an autobiography by Fr Jean Bernard about his imprisonment at Dachau, upon which The Ninth Day was based:


  5. mmvc says:

    Here is a film (German with English subtitles) about Maximilian Kolbe’s life entitled “Leben für Leben” – see this link:


  6. toadspittle says:

    “This priest’s story is surely worthy of a movie” opines Burro.

    May I suggest Mel Gibson?
    No? Thought not…


  7. Brother Burrito says:

    Actually, Mel Gibson might be a good choice. I thought his Passion of the Christ was a masterpiece.

    He has been a favourite of mine since his Mad Max days, and refreshingly countercultural among Hollywood’s plastic elite.

    Sure, of late he appears to be falling apart, but I doubt that many would fare better, in the vale of temptation.


  8. toadspittle says:

    “refreshingly countercultural” Love it! Love it!

    Wait ’til his defence lawyer hears that one! Not guilty!


  9. toadspittle says:

    And, Burro,

    Just supposing Hitchens or Dawkins had been overheard (unlikely, to be sure) making similar bigoted and racist remarks little Mel was…

    Would we all unite in dismissing them as, “refreshingly countercultural?” Of course!


  10. toadspittle says:

    Whoops, ‘all unite ‘ is tautological, I fear.
    Oxymoronic, even. Bad, bad, Toad!


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  12. Nicholas Hinde says:

    The link takes us to a dubious biography that confuses Martin Luther with Martin Luther King. This sort of uncritical hagiography does no good service.


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