A Story of Heroic Faith in the Life of Saint Maximilian Kolbe
[Mary's Knight, Foster, Page 655]
In Pawiak Prison, Fr. Max was confined to a cell with 20 other prisoners. Several days after his arrival, an SS officer entered the crowded cell where Maximilian was confined. The SS officer was in a rage at the sight of Father’s Franciscan habit. Grasping the crucifix and the rosary suspended from the cincture of Fr. Maximilian’s habit, the SS officer, holding the crucifix and rosary before Fr. Maximilian’s face, demanded, “Do you believe in this?”
“Yes, I believe,” Fr. Maximilian answered.
The SS jailer struck Fr. Maximilian full in the face with the crucifix. Blood streamed from his nostrils.
“Do you still believe, priest?” the predator screamed.
“Yes, I believe,” Fr. Maximilian replied calmly.
Another brutal blow with the crucifix full in the face. Blood from the nostrils and lacerated skin flowed down Maximilian’s cheeks and over his lips. With each affirmation the SS guard became angrier & more violent. And at the final affirmation gave Fr. Maximilian such a blow that he was knocked off his feet & fell into the corner of the cell.
The actions of the guard provoked the other inmates to react with violence, to which Fr. Maximilian responded “No brothers, we must not return injury for injury. Let us offer our suffering to the Immaculata.”
In the face of such ridicule and cruelty, Fr. Maximilian heroically showed how willing he was to suffer for his beliefs, offering every suffering to our Blessed Mother. More so, the very act of being pummeled by the crucifix, the ultimate expression of our Lord’s love for us, almost foreshadows how, in a similar act of love, he would sacrifice his life, not on a cross, but in a starvation cell, to save another man’s life in Auschwitz.