Maximilian Kolbe was born January 8, 1894, in Poland. His father was a weaver and his mother was a midwife. He had four brothers. When he was 12, he had a vision of the Virgin Mary. In his vision, she came to him carrying two crowns. One was white representing purity. The other crown was red, representing martyrdom. She asked which he was willing to accept. He said both. When he was 13, in 1907, he and his older brother joined a Franciscan seminary. He earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1915 and earned a doctorate in theology by the time he was 28.
Maximilian organized the Army of the Immaculate One after he saw people demonstrating against Pope Pius X and Benedict XV. He tried to convert Freemasons, sinners. and enemies of the Church with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In 1918, he was ordained a priest. He continued promoting Mary throughout Poland. He went on to teach in at a seminary, created many publications, and found many monasteries in Japan and India.
In 1936, Maximilian’s poor health caused him to return to Poland. He was one of the only brother’s who stayed at the monastery when Germany invaded Poland to begin World War II. He opened an aid station to help those in need from the invasion. He was sent to prison but released three months later.
Maximilian refused to sign papers which would make him a German citizen. He helped hide 2,000 Jews from the Germans. He issued many anti-Nazi writings. On February 17, 1941, the monastery was shut down and he was arrested. He ended up at the concentration camp Auschwitz. He continued to be a priest even though it made him a victim of harassment and violence. Men were chosen to be starved, as a warning to others. Maximilian wasn’t chosen but volunteered to take the place of another man who had a family.
Maximilian continued to pray with Mary for others. He was the last of the group to remain alive after two weeks of dehydration and starving. The guards gave him a lethal injection.
Maximilian Kolbe died on August 14, 1941. He was made a saint by Pope John Paul II in 1982. He is the patron saint of prisoners, families and the pro-life movement.
Saint Dominic was born in Caleruega, Spain, in 1170. His parents, Felix and Juana, were members of the Spanish nobility. They were related to the King and Queen of Spain. His father was the leader of the village and his mother was Blessed Joan of Aza.
After Dominic’s much older brothers were grown, his mother prayed for another son. Legend says before Dominic’s birth, his mother dreamed a dog leaped from her womb carrying a torch in its mouth. The dog set the world on fire. She had another dream where St. Dominic of Silos told her she would have a son who would be a shining light to the Church. She decided to name the child Dominic. His mother saw a moon on his forehead. At his baptism, Dominic’s godmother saw a star on his forehead.
Dominic was raised by his parents, and his mother’s uncle, an archpriest. Dominic studied the arts for six years and theology for four years. Studying the arts meant he studied arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music theory, grammar, logic, public speaking, and Latin. He was a great student.
In 1191, a famine left many people homeless and starving throughout Spain. Dominic sold everything he had to buy food for the poor. He even sold his books to help pay for food. When he was asked about it, he said how could he study when people were starving. In 1194, at age 25, Dominic joined the Canons Regular. They followed the teachings of Saint Augustine. In 1204, he and a bishop began a program to convert the Cathars, who were a Christian group, with different beliefs. They did not follow the teachings of the Church.
In 1215 Dominic and six followers saw the need for a new type of spiritual organization. They would help the spiritual and educational needs in the growing cities. The followed monastery rules of prayer and penance. The bishop also gave them permission to preach. Dominic went to Rome to gain the approval of the Pope for his new order. It took a year, and the order was named “The Order of Preachers”, O.P., and is known as the Dominican order.
In his later years, he traveled to check on the members of his growing order. He made his headquarters in Rome. Dominic lived an ascetic life. Ascetic means to practice self-discipline from luxury for religious reasons. He didn’t eat meat. He observed fasts and periods of silence. He never allowed himself the luxury of a bed.
Dominic died in 1221 at the age of 51. Saint Dominic is the patron saint of astronomers, astronomy, and falsely accused people.