Saint Maximilian Kolbe wasn't always called "Maximilian". When he was born on January 8th, 1894 in the country of Poland, his parents named and baptized him Raymond. When he was young, he was a normal kid, who was mischievous and sometimes got into trouble. One day, his mother again scolded him for getting into trouble. "Raymond, what will become of you?" she asked, and later that night he prayed to Our Heavenly Mother, Mary:
"That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both."
Rather than choosing one of the two crowns, Raymond chose both!
When Raymond grew up, he became a Franciscan priest, and he took the new name of Maximilian Mary Kolbe. While he was a priest, he started a magazine and became a missionary in Japan. Later, the Nazis took over his homeland of Poland, and then they invaded Maximilian's monastery. The Nazis put Maximilian into a concentration camp. While there, Maximilian held onto his faith.
While he was a prisoner in the consentration camp, three prisoners escaped. The Nazis did not like this, and they decided to kill ten prisoners in punishment for the three who got away.
One of the men who was chosen to die by starvation, was a young man who had a wife and children. Maximilian volunteered to take this man's place, and the guards let him.
Maximilian and the other nine men were put into one room, and they were given no food and no water. Most prisoners would cry out for food and water while they were starving, but Maximilian led this group of men in prayer. One of the guards said that it sounded more like a church than a prison. After two weeks of no food and no water, Maximilian was still alive. On August 14th, the Nazis gave Maximilian a carbolic acid injection, and he died within minutes while praying peacefully.
Just as his vision of Our Lady prophesied when he was younger, Saint Maximilian Kolbe died with both the white crown of virginity and the red crown of martyrdom.
Questions to think about:
What do you want to be when you grow up?
How can you continue to love and serve God even when you are older?