SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE was canonized on Oct 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and declared a martyr of charity. The pope called him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century".
Maximilian Kolbe was born in
January 1894 in Zdunska Wola, the second of four sons of Julius Kolbe and Maria Dabrowska.
In 1907 Kolbe and his elder brother Francis joined the Conventual Franciscans.
In 1912 he was sent to Kraków, and then to Rome where he earned doctorates in philosophy and theology. During his time as a student, he witnessed vehement demonstrations against Popes St. Pius X and Benedict XV in Rome and was inspired to organize the Militia Immaculata, or Army of Mary, to work for conversion of sinners and the enemies of the Catholic Church through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The Immaculata friars utilized the most modern printing and administrative techniques in publishing catechetical and devotional tracts, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000 and a monthly magazine with a circulation of over one million.
In 1918 Kolbe was ordained a priest. The next year he returned to Poland, where he was very active in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. He founded the monastery of Niepokalanów near Warsaw, a seminary, a radio station and several other organizations and publications. Between 1930 and 1936 he took a series of missions to Japan, where he founded a monastery at the outskirts of Nagasaki, a Japanese paper and a seminary. The monastery he founded remains prominent in the Roman Catholic Church in Japan. Kolbe decided to build the monastery on a mountain side that, according to Shinto beliefs, was not the side best suited to be in tune with nature. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Kolbe’s monastery was saved because the blast of the bomb hit the other side of the mountain.
On one of the trips to Japan, he stopped by Singapore and celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. (See letter.)
During the Second World War he provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary in Niepokalanów.
He was arrested by the German Gestapo, imprisoned in the Pawiak prison, and then transferred
to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670.
In July 1941, a man from Kolbe’s barracks vanished, prompting the deputy camp commander to pick 10 men from the same barracks to be starved to death in Block 13, in order to deter further escape attempts. One
of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, asked to be spared as he had a family, and Kolbe volunteered to take his place.
During the time in the cell Kolbe led the men in songs and prayer and encouraged them with the belief that they would soon be with Mary in heaven. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, Kolbe was killed with an injection of carbolic acid. -Wikipedia