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Auschwitz martyr St. Maximilian Kolbe taught Catholics how to fight the culture of death

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

September 4, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Nearly 100 years ago, two extraordinary Catholic events happened just three days apart.

October 13, 1917, was the miracle of the sun in Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady of Fatima told three shepherd children – two of whom are now canonized – that this was coming. During this event, the "sun danced" and tens of thousands of onlookers were able to look directly at the sun

"More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason," Our Lady told the three Portuguese children. During her reoccuring apparitions, she implored them to pray the rosary every day and to make reparation for sins. She also asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart and warned that if it wasn't, the country would "spread her errors" throughout the world. (The Bolshevik Revolution began in 1917.)

And on October 16, 1917, St. Maximilian Kolbe founded the Militia of the Immaculata (MI), an organization encouraging Catholics to consecrate themselves completely to the Blessed Virgin Mary's Immaculate Heart. The organization is present around the world now. It is recognized by the Catholic Church as a universal and international public association of the faithful.

St. Maximilian Kolbe is the patron saint of the pro-life movement. As a Polish Catholic priest, he was put in a concentration camp by the Nazis. When a prisoner with a family was selected to be killed by starvation, Kolbe volunteered his own life instead. He was eventually killed by lethal injection. 

Pope St. John Paul II canonized him in 1982.

"Maximilian Kolbe never knew in his lifetime about the Fatima apparitions," Antonella Di Piazza, the MI's national coordinator in the United States, told LifeSiteNews. Yet the MI's mission was (and still is) in complete harmony with what Our Lady of Fatima called for: the conversion of sinners and consecration to her Immaculate Heart.

St. Maximilian Kolbe and several other Franciscan friars "were inspired to give life to a movement whose core spirituality is promoting consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary" for the "conversion and sanctification of the whole world," said Di Piazza. "Maximilian, by the way, never referred to himself as the founder of the MI. He always saw Our Lady as the queen and the leader of the movement."

The MI began the 100th anniversary of its founding with a pilgrimage to Fatima. In October, it will end this "special year of grace" with a pilgrimage to Rome and other holy sites in Italy. Although the deadline to register for the October 10-19 pilgrimage has passed, there are still several spots open. 

"The highlight of every day is Mass," said Di Piazza. "The three days in Rome will be marked by prayer and celebration."

Pilgrims will also visit Assisi and Siena. John Galten, the MI national president, and Jason Jones, producer of the pro-life movie Bella, will be there.

"St. Maximilian is the patron of families … but he was chosen as patron of the pro-life movement as well," explained Di Piazza. "In the broad sense, I think the message that he offers is really that of establishing the culture of love and life."

His message and teachings can help "to equip Catholics to be able to fight the battle for the culture of life and love in a time and age where the culture of death has really taken incredible strides." 

"I think the message of Maximilian goes to the heart of the battle," concluded Di Piazza. "Because Our Lady" was "called to be at the heart of the battle between good and evil." 

Total consecration to Mary is a call to join ourselves to the woman who brought our savior into the world, she said. 

Those interested in joining the pilgrimage should contact Mater Dei tours for more information.

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