Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Saturday, August 27, 2016

“This is a story of divine irony. A story of tragedy so enormous as to be incomprehensible. It leaves you standing silent, weeping with an aching sadness for the not to be forgotten millions, who suffered so much. It is a story. Nevertheless, that leaves us somewhat shocked at the workings of Divine Mercy, but perhaps this truth should awaken in our hearts that small, infinitely powerful, bright, white-winged virtue called Hope that flutters out of the maelstrom of soul destroying dark memories.”

It is said that Psalm 1 in the Bible is a summary of the whole of Sacred Scripture. It outlines the way of virtue and the way of vice. You will not like what you read here because the focus is on the mainly on the way that leads to doom. You might ask, “What is such a horrible story doing on the webpages of the Secular Franciscan Order?” My answer is that it is all about the possibility of Divine Mercy.

John Cooper OFM Cap


Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Order of Friars Minor – Conventual (1894-1941)

Rudolph Höss/Hoess

Commandant Auschwitz Extermination Camp (1901 – 1947)


AUSCHWITZ – puts these two men before our eyes, two born leaders, both died a violent death.

St Maximilian KolbeSt Maximilian Kolbe, the Franciscan, who sought “to love everyone; to do good for everyone,” and consecrated his life to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, even as far as dying in Starvation Bunker, Number 13., Auschwitz Concentration Camp 14th August 1941, prisoner 16670.

Rudolph Höss,(This is not Rudolph Hess – Nazi Party Leader and Adolph Hitler’s Deputy, who flew to Scotland) this is the SS-Commander in charge of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, who sought to do his duty, with ruthless competence and efficiency. He died on the gallows overlooking the extermination camp, the place of his atrocities in 1947.

There were many - remarkable parallels between Höss and Kolbe from childhood onwards. Their fate was connected very much with one another although their way of life was certainly very different.

Both of them grew up in very religious Catholic families, both of them served with zeal as altar boys at Holy Mass, and both of them had the childhood wish to become a priest and a missionary. Above average intelligence and very sensitive, both of them were brought up to be obedient, to carry responsibility, to be brave and to be determined.

However, they made very opposite decisions in life. Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, a Conventual Franciscan Friar, in the end, became a radiant Saint, with a deep Marian spirituality. Rudolph Höss became a Nazi and one of the most hated criminals in history. Both were very gifted in strategy and organizing, and both brilliantly developed their talents in their particular way.




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