Tomorrows Saint is the remarkable St Maximiliam Maria Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan who famously gave up his life in place of another in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. Before his arrest Kolbe was famous in Europe for his ministry in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. He had founded the monastery of Niepokalanów near Warsaw, a seminary, a radio station, and several other organizations and publications.
His arrest by the Gestapo was partly due to his heroic effort in sheltering Jews, with over 2000 being hidden in his monastery. It was after three prisoners successfully escaped from the camp, that he deputy camp commander, picked 10 men to be starved to death in an underground bunker in order to deter further escape attempts. One of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, “My wife! My children!”, so Kolbe volunteered to take his place. After two weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe remained alive. The guards wanted the bunker emptied and they gave Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid.
Something that brought this amazing story vividly alive to me was listening to an interview on the internet. Saint Cast is an excellent website run by a marathon running brain surgeon from America, Paul Camarata. A few years ago he posted a fascinating audio file – of an interview and translation of an eye-witness to this event. One of the saint cast listeners – found that a member of his parish in Uppsala, Sweden, a guy called Tadeusz Raznikiewicz, was an eyewitness to the last days of St. Maximilian Kolbe.
This amazing interview can be listened to by visiting the saint cast website here > Eyewitness acount to Kolbe’s last days