Saint Maximillian Kolbe was born in Zdunska Wola in Poland on January 8, 1894. He joined the Coventual Franciscans in 1907 with his brother Francis. He professed his first vows in 1911 and his final vows in 1914. He took the name Maximilian and the middle name Maria to show his veneration to Mary.
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When he arrived at Auschwitz he was subjected to violent harassment for being a priest. At the end of July 1941, one prisoner escaped from the camp. The deputy camp commander picked 10 men to be starved to death in an underground bunker to scare away prisoners from making any escape attempts.
One of the men that was chosen, Franciszek Gajowniczek cried out because he had a family, and Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take his place. After three weeks, only he and three others were still alive. Unfortunately, the guards wanted to empty the block, and he was murdered by a lethal injection. He was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1971 and canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982.
Maximilian Kolbe served as an example of holiness by laying down his life for his fellow man. Instead of standing by, Maximilian happily and extraordinarily chose to give the ultimate sacrifice to God.