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A Life of Heroic Love View Comments
By Brian Jordan, OFM

Pope John Paul II canonized Conventual Franciscan Father Maximilian Kolbe in Rome on October 10, 1982. Millions of Catholics around the world and people of other faiths are aware of this saint’s selfless sacrifice.

In late July 1941, at the Auschwitz concentration camp, Maximilian, in a great act of love, offered his life for the life of a Polish Jew, Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek, who was married, with a family. He died on August 14.

It wouldn’t be the first time Maximilian showed bravery and love in the face of danger.


Brian Jordan, OFM, is the chaplain for labor unions in Washington, DC. This Silver Spring, Maryland, resident is also a labor priest and an immigrant advocate.

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Columban: Columban was the greatest of the Irish missionaries who worked on the European continent. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh, he sought the advice of a religious woman who had lived a hermit’s life for years. He saw in her answer a call to leave the world. He went first to a monk on an island in Lough Erne, then to the great monastic seat of learning at Bangor. 
<p>After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul (modern-day France) with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for the rigor of their discipline, their preaching, and their commitment to charity and religious life in a time characterized by clerical laxity and civil strife. Columban established several monasteries in Europe which became centers of religion and culture. </p><p>Like all saints, he met opposition. Ultimately he had to appeal to the pope against complaints of Frankish bishops, for vindication of his orthodoxy and approval of Irish customs. He reproved the king for his licentious life, insisting that he marry. Since this threatened the power of the queen mother, Columban was deported to Ireland. His ship ran aground in a storm, and he continued his work in Europe, ultimately arriving in Italy, where he found favor with the king of the Lombards. In his last years he established the famous monastery of Bobbio, where he died. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry and his monastic rule.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus was never a careerist or a glory-monger; he did not demand to be hailed as a king or lauded as a hero. He came to live among us, to suffer with us, and to serve us from the heart. He came to teach us how to love.

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