The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence and 5 Things We Can Learn from It

With the intensification of Christian martyrdom across the globe in recent years, and most especially the recent martyrdom of Father Jacques Hamel, I found it very fitting today to rebrand an article that I wrote a few years ago focusing on the early Church Deacon and Martyr, St. Lawrence. He is one of the most venerated martyrs of the early Church.

In the year 257, the Roman Emperor Valerian ordered that all Christians as well as Bishops, priests, deacons, and Pope Sixtus II, were to be apprehended and put to death. One year after this decree was issued, Pope Saint Sixtus was taken into custody by Roman soldiers and martyred. Four days later, the Pope’s good friend, Saint Lawrence, would follow him into martyrdom. According to tradition and the writings of Saint Ambrose and Prudentius, Saint Lawrence said to Sixtus, “Father, where are you going without your deacon?” The Pope said in reply, “I do not leave you, my son. You shall follow me in three days.”

As tradition tells us, a Roman prefect demanded that Saint Lawrence bring the treasures of the Church to him immediately. For three days, Saint Lawrence quickly did what he was told to do. He went throughout the entire city seeking the followers of Christ. The actual gold and silver that the prefect wanted was sold and distributed throughout the Church. On the third day, he reported back to the prefect with a countless number of Christian followers. At seeing all the people gathered before him, the Roman prefect became enraged and asked Lawrence where was the “treasure” of the Church. In a confident voice, Lawrence replied, “What are you displeased at? These are the treasure of the Church.”

After hearing this reply, his anger increased even more so and he ordered that Lawrence be taken into custody. The prefect ordered that a large gridiron be built and that hot coals were placed under it in order to slowly cook the deacon to death. Lawrence was stripped of his clothes and tied to the gridiron that slowly burnt his flesh. He remained on the gridiron for a long time suffering in great pain. With a smile of pure joy, he looked at the judge and said, “Let my body be turned; one side is broiled enough.”

Once the executioner turned him over, Lawrence said, “It is cooked enough, you may eat.” After praying for the city of Rome and all the faithful of the Church one last night, Saint Lawrence gave up his spirit and died. Since the fourth century, Saint Lawrence has been celebrated as one of the most venerated martyrs of the Church.

the-martyrdom-of-st-lawrence-palma-giovane

Now that we know a little more about St. Lawrence, here are 5 things we can learn from his life and death…

1. Always speak the Truth of Jesus Christ and spread His Gospel message to those we encounter. The Gospel message is to be evangelized to all – from faithful Christians to unbelievers. As disciples of Jesus Christ and His Church, we are not to impose the views of the Church, only propose them to the world.

2. We must always strive for holiness. From the moment we are baptized, we are called to live a life of universal holiness. As the saints militant here on Earth, we must be joyful Christians. There is no room for grumpy Christians. As St. Teresa of Avila said, “A sad saint is not a saint at all.”

3. Always stand against those who seek to destroy us and persecute us for our beliefs in Jesus Christ and His Church. With great confidence and fortitude, we can overcome the challenges that stand before us. Throughout the world, many of us are being faced with a threat against our religious freedom. We must stand against such tyranny and battle for our religious freedom.

4. As Christians, we are called to be witnesses to the world. The term, martyr, comes from the Greek term meaning witness. Many of us will never endure red martyrdom (death), but we will endure white martyrdom (social persecution). As we stand against the depravity of this modern secular culture, many of us will endure social persecution.

5. All suffering leads to Jesus Christ on the cross. Whether our suffering is physical, mental, or spiritual, it can unite us closer to Our Lord who endured great suffering during his Passion. All suffering will eventually lead to glory and resurrection.

In his Apostolic Letter, Salvific Doloris, Pope St. John Paul II says, “Suffering is also an invitation to manifest the moral greatness of man, his spiritual maturity. Proof of this has been given, down through the generations, by the martyrs and confessors of Christ, faithful to the words: “And do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”

For more on the subject of martyrdom, I would suggest reading my Quick Lessons from the Catechism and what Pope Francis said about martyrdom.

Let us pray: O Lord, you gave us the great Deacon and Martyr of the Church, St. Lawrence, who passionately served you and your Vicar, Pope St. Sixtus II. Help us to be obedient to our current Vicar in all avenues of the Church. Give us the strength and courage we need to endure martyrdom and social persecution in this modern age. Amen. 

St. Lawrence…Pray for Us. 

Fr. Jacques Hamel…Pray for Us. 

All Holy Martyrs…Pray for Us. 

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Witness of Martyrdom

Two days ago I was sitting in Mass when I noticed that in my Daily Roman Missal on the liturgical calendar, in the Latin Church, the first four saint memorials for the month of June are all martyrs. On June 1, we had St. Justin; June 2, we had Saints Marcellinus and Peter; June 3, it was Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, and now today, June 5, we have Saint Boniface of Mainz.

Out of the four memorials dedicated to these martyrs, three of them come from the early centuries of the Church, when of course we know martyrdom was a regular occurrence. The one that is not of the early centuries, but is in the late 19th century, is Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions. Although many of the early Christians faced the possibility of dying for Jesus Christ, and martyrdom has existed in the life of the Catholic Church for 2000 years, it’s a reality that many our Christian brothers and sisters around the world are still faced with today.

There are two forms of martyrdom – red martyrdom and white martyrdom. Red martyrdom is witnessing to the faith where a person endures death. The Church proclaims those who are killed for the faith are baptized by blood and are directed straight to heaven. The red martyrs are genuine examples of unmatched heroic fortitude and conviction. This is the martyrdom most recognized by the Church and the saints from above endured.

White martyrdom (dry martyrdom) is social persecution rather than death. This form of martyrdom is when a person or group of persons are attacked either verbally or in writing for having a conviction of faith or when they choose not to violate their moral conscience. This is the most common form of martyrdom for us Catholics in America today. When someone calls you a bigot, intolerant, or just hates that you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have become a white martyr.

In order to see for yourself what many Catholics are faced with today, I would encourage you to view the website, Aid to the Church in Need. I also suggest Joyce Coronel’s book, ‘A Martyr’s Crown’.

Now that we have spoken about martyrdom a bit, let’s turn to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on the subject –

CCC 2473: Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the faith: it means witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. “Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God” [This quote at the end is from the Letter to the Romans by St. Ignatius of Antioch].

CCC 2474: The Church has painstakingly collected the records of those who persevered to the end in witnessing to their faith. These are the acts of the Martyrs. They form the archives of truth written in letters of blood:

Neither the pleasures of the world nor the kingdoms of this age will be of any use to me. It is better for me to die [in order to unite myself] to Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. I seek him who died for us; I desire him who rose for us. My birth is approaching… [St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans]

I bless you for having judged me worthy from this day and this hour to be counted among your martyrs…You have kept your promise, God of faithfulness and truth. For this reason and for everything, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Through him, who is with you and the Holy Spirit, may glory be given to you, now and in the ages to come. Amen. [Martyrdom St. Polycarp]

CCC 2506: The Christian is not to “be ashamed of testifying to our Lord’ (2 Tim 1:8) in deed and word. Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith.

For more information on martyrdom, continue by reading what Pope Francis has said on the subject, 5 things we can learn about the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, and white martyrdom from the perspective of a persecuted high school student.

Always remember the words of the early Church Father, Tertullian, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Pope Francis on Martyrdom

Today we celebrate the memorial of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, young martyrs of the early church around the year 203 A.D. St. Perpetua was a woman of Carthaginian nobility and also a mother to a young child. St. Felicity was a slave girl, who had a child while in prison, but the child was taken from her. They were both thrown into the amphitheater to be eaten by wild beasts, but they were not harmed. In the end, they were both killed by having a sword thrusted into them. The martyrdom came during the persecution of Septimus Severus.

On October 14, 2013, Pope Francis beatified 522 martyrs who lost their lives in the anti-Christian persecution during the 1930’s in Spain. In his radio address he said,

“Who are the martyrs? They are Christians who have been “earned” by Christ, disciples who have learnt well the sense of that “love to the extreme limit” which led Jesus to the Cross. There is no such thing as love in installments, no such thing as portions of love. Total love: and when we love, we love till the end. On the Cross, Jesus felt the weight of death, the weight of sin, but he gave himself over to the Father entirely, and he forgave. He barely spoke, but he gave the gift of life. Christ “beats” us in love; the martyrs imitated him in love until the very end.

The Sainted Fathers say: “Let’s imitate the martyrs!” We must always die a little in order to come out of ourselves, of our selfishness, of our well-being, of our laziness, of our sadnesses, and open up to God, to others, especially those who need it most.

We implore the intercession of the martyrs, that we may be concrete Christians, Christians in deeds and not just in words, that we may not be mediocre Christians, Christians painted in a superficial coating of Christianity without substance – they weren’t painted, they were Christians until the end. We ask them for help in keeping our faith firm, that even throughout our difficulties we may nourish hope and foster brotherhood and solidarity.”

Although we celebrate the martyrdom of the many early Christians who died for Jesus Christ, we must realize that martyrdom occurred in great numbers in the 20th century and continues to this day. Pray for all Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Uganda and other countries that display great hostility towards Christianity.

All Holy Martyrs…Pray For Us!

10 Quotes from Pope Benedict XVI on Christian Love

In light of the martyrdom of St. Valentine, who was beaten with clubs, beheaded, buried under the cover of darkness, and was disinterred by his followers; I feel it necessary to write about Christian love. St. Valentine, along with all the other great martyrs of the Church, gave up their lives because they were in love with Jesus Christ. Martyrdom is not just about being a witness to Jesus Christ, but it’s about being in love with Him as well. Their love is so great that they willingly sacrificed their lives for Our Lord and Savior.

In 2005, not long after he was elected to the Papacy, Pope Benedict XVI wrote his first encyclical. Many thought it would focus on the Sacred Scriptures or the Divine Liturgy, since those are two of Benedict’s premier subjects, but instead it focused on Christian Love. The title of his first encyclical was – Deus Caritas Est (God is Love).

As we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Valentine and his witness and love for Jesus Christ, I give you 10 quotes from Pope Benedict XVI on Christian love. There is no doubt there are more than 10 great quotes from this letter, but these are the ones chosen for today. I hope enjoy them and share them with others.

1. We have come to believe in God’s love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction (#1).

2. God’s love for us is fundamental for our lives, and it raises important questions about who God is and who we are. In considering this, we immediately find ourselves hampered by a problem of language. Today, the term “love” has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings (#2).

3. The one God in whom Israel believes, on the other hand, loves with a personal love. His love, moreover, is an elective love: among all the nations he chooses Israel and loves her—but he does so precisely with a view to healing the whole human race. God loves, and his love may certainly be called eros, yet it is also totally agape (#9).

4. When Jesus speaks in his parables of the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, of the woman who looks for the lost coin, of the father who goes to meet and embrace his prodigal son, these are no mere words: they constitute an explanation of his very being and activity. His death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form (#12).

5. The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of man: it seeks his evangelization through Word and Sacrament, an undertaking that is often heroic in the way it is acted out in history; and it seeks to promote man in the various arenas of life and human activity. Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to man’s sufferings and his needs, including material needs (#19).

6. Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable (#28).

7. Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends…those who practise charity in the Church’s name will never seek to impose the Church’s faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak. He knows that God is love…(#31).

8. “The consciousness that, in Christ, God has given himself for us, even unto death, must inspire us to live no longer for ourselves but for him, and, with him, for others. Whoever loves Christ loves the Church, and desires the Church to be increasingly the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ (#33).

9. Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed. People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone…Blessed Teresa [of Calcutta] wrote to her lay co-workers: “We need this deep connection with God in our daily life. How can we obtain it? By prayer” (#36).

10. Mary is the woman of hope…Mary is a woman of faith… Mary is a woman who loves… Mary has truly become the Mother of all believers. Men and women of every time and place have recourse to her motherly kindness and her virginal purity and grace, in all their needs and aspirations, their joys and sorrows, their moments of loneliness and their common endeavours. They constantly experience the gift of her goodness and the unfailing love which she pours out from the depths of her heart (#40, #41).

If you have never read Pope Benedict XVI, I would encourage you to do so. In my humble opinion, he is one of the greatest theologians the Catholic Church has seen in the past 500 years. Yes, you read that correctly…500 years.

The Great Saint of Auschwitz

BVM, Kolbe, and Two CrownsToday we commemorate the great saint of Auschwitz – Saint Maximilian Kolbe. St. Maximilian Kolbe was born, Raymond, to Julius Kolbe and Mary Dabrowska on January 17, 1894. At the age of ten years old, he had a vision of the Blessed Mother. She presented him with two crowns and asked him to choose between them. The first crown was white representing purity and the second crown was red representing martyrdom – young Maximilian chose both!

Like many saints before him, he knew as a child that he had a vocation to religious life. At the age of 13 years old, he joined The Conventual Franciscans and made his first set of vows in 1911. After years of study in his home country of Poland, Maximilian was sent to study in Rome. He was ordained a priest on April 28, 1918.

St. Maximilian Kolbe had a great love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. His love was so great he organized the group – “Militia of Mary Immaculata.” Although this group began with humble beginnings, at the time of his ordination, it has grown to be a worldwide organization within the boundaries of the Catholic Church and has received blessings from many Popes over the years. He promoted his Marian mission through the press via the bulletin, The Knight of the Immaculate. He also founded houses of Friars dedicated to the Blessed Mother. The first was in Poland, and another in Japan, where he traveled for some time.

Saint Maximilian founded the Militia Immaculata (M.I. as they call it) in response to the growing threat of Free Masonry (Freemasons). While still a student in Rome, he was walking home to the college and witnessed in Saint Peter’s Square an unauthorized demonstration of Free Masonry. They were denouncing the Church, the Pope, and had a picture of Satan crushing the head of St. Michael the Archangel.

Where Socialism and others forms of tyranny stand face-to-face with the Catholic Church, the Freemasons sneak around the back of the Church and pick pocket her from behind. The Militia Immaculata has a two-fold purpose. First, they seek to re-conquer the universe and return it to Jesus Christ through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and second, they spiritually battle the evils of Free Masonry. The Freemasons have always been a great threat to the Catholic Church and still are today.

Years later, as war broke out in Poland, he was arrested once, but released. His brother Franciscans pleaded to go with him the second time, but he said to them, “I have a mission – the Immaculata has a mission to fulfill.” After being taken captive again by German soldiers, he was sent to the concentration camp of Auschwitz and placed in Block 14. While a prisoner at the camp, a group of men escaped. As a sign of persuasion not to try this again, the Germans chose 10 men to execute. One of men pleaded for his life for he had a family. St. Maximilian gave up his life by standing in for the man. Francis Gajowniczek, the man St. Maximilian stood in for, survived World War II. He spent the rest of his life speaking around the world on the Great Saint of Auschwitz.

Kolbe in Camp

After spending two weeks of surviving with other prisoners in a starvation hut, his German captives became impatient and injected Father Kolbe with carbolic acid. He was the last man to die and entered heavenly glory on August 14, 1941. It has been said by some sources that other prisoners were sneaking bread to them, but instead of eating just bread, St. Maximilian was consecrated the bread into the Body of Jesus Christ.  He is considered by the Church to be one of the great saints and martyrs of the 20th century.

Blessed John Paul II canonized Saint Maximilian Kolbe on October 10, 1982. At the Canonization Mass, Blessed John Paul II said,

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” These are the words we have repeated in today’s responsorial psalm. It is truly precious and inestimable! Through the death, which Christ underwent on the Cross, the redemption of the world was achieved, for this death has the value of supreme love. Through the death of Father Maximilian Kolbe, a shining sign of this love was renewed in our century which is do seriously and in so many ways threatened by sin and death… The inspiration of his whole life was the Immaculata. To her he entrusted his love for Christ and his desire for martyrdom. In the mystery of the Immaculate Conception there revealed itself before the eyes of his soul that marvelous and supernatural world of God’s grace offered to man… And so, in virtue of my apostolic authority, I have decreed that Maximilian Maria Kolbe-who after his Beatification was venerated as a Confessor-shall henceforward be venerated also as a Martyr!”

St. Maximilian Kolbe

For more information on Saint Maximilian Kolbe here in the United States, please visit the website of Marytown – The National Shrine of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. Please also visit the website Militia Immaculata and Consecration.

Let us pray: O Lord, you gave your saint, Maximilian Kolbe, the passion and love for the Immaculate Virgin and gave him the grace to love and save souls. We ask that you give us the same grace to love your Holy Mother, so that we may bring her to others,  and she may bring them to you. Amen.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe…Pray For Us!   

5 Things We Can Learn from the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence

In the year 257, the Roman Emperor Valerian ordered that all Christians as well as Bishops, priests, deacons, and Pope Sixtus II, were to be apprehended and put to death. One year after this decree was issued, Pope Saint Sixtus was taken into custody by Roman soldiers and martyred. Four days later, the Pope’s good friend, Saint Lawrence, would follow him into martyrdom. According to tradition and the writings of Saint Ambrose and Prudentius, Saint Lawrence said to Sixtus, “Father, where are you going without your deacon? The Pope said in reply, “I do not leave you, my son. You shall follow me in three days.”

As tradition tells us, a Roman prefect demanded that Saint Lawrence bring the treasures of the Church to him immediately. For three days, Saint Lawrence quickly did what he was told to do. He went throughout the entire city seeking the followers of Christ. The actual gold and silver that the prefect wanted was sold and distributed throughout the Church. On the third day, he reported back to the prefect with a countless number of Christian followers. At seeing all the people gathered before him, the Roman prefect became enraged and asked Lawrence where was the “treasure” of the Church. In a confident voice, Lawrence replied, “What are you displeased at? These are the treasure of the Church.”

After hearing this reply, his anger increased even more so and he ordered that Lawrence be taken into custody. The prefect ordered that a large gridiron be built and that hot coals were placed under it in order to slowly cook the deacon to death. Lawrence was stripped of his clothes and tied to the gridiron that slowly burnt his flesh. He remained on the gridiron for a long time suffering in great pain. With a smile of pure joy, he looked at the judge and said, “Let my body be turned; one side is broiled enough.” Once the executioner turned him over, Lawrence said, “It is cooked enough, you may eat.” After praying for the city of Rome and all the faithful of the Church one last night, Saint Lawrence gave up his spirit and died. Since the fourth century, Saint Lawrence has been celebrated as one of the most venerated martyrs of the Church.

the-martyrdom-of-st-lawrence-palma-giovane

After reading through the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, here are 5 things we can learn from his life and death…

  1. Always speak the Truth of Jesus Christ and spread His Gospel message to those we encounter. The Gospel message is to be evangelized to all – from faithful Christians to unbelievers. As the missionaries, we are not to impose the views of the Church, only propose them to the world.
  2. We must always strive for holiness. From the moment we are baptized, we are called to live a life of universal holiness. As saints militant here on Earth, we must be joyful Christians. There is no room for grumpy Christians. As St. Teresa of Avila said, “A sad saint is not a saint at all.”
  3. Always stand against those who seek to destroy us and persecute us for our beliefs in Jesus Christ and His Church. With great confidence and fortitude, we can overcome the challenges that stand before us. Throughout the world, many of us are being faced with a threat against our religious freedom. We must stand against such tyranny and battle for our freedoms.
  4. As Christians, we are called to be witnesses to the world. The term, martyr, comes from the Greek term meaning witness. Many of us will never endure red martyrdom (death), but we will, and have already begun to endure white martyrdom (social persecution). As we stand against the depravity of this modern culture, many of us will endure social persecution.
  5. All suffering leads to Jesus Christ on the cross. Whether our suffering is physical, mental, or spiritual, it can unite us closer to Our Lord who endured great suffering during his Passion. All suffering will eventually lead to glory and resurrection. In his Apostolic Letter, Salvific Doloris, Blessed John Paul II says, “Suffering is also an invitation to manifest the moral greatness of man, his spiritual maturity. Proof of this has been given, down through the generations, by the martyrs and confessors of Christ, faithful to the words: “And do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”

Let us pray: O Lord, you gave us the great Deacon and Martyr of the Church, St. Lawrence, who passionately served you and your Vicar, St. Sixtus II. Help us to be obedient to Pope Francis in all avenues of the Church. Give us the strength and courage me need to endure social persecution in this modern age. Amen.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe – The Saint of Auschwitz

Today we commemorate the great saint of Auschwitz, Saint Maximilian Kolbe. St. Maximilian was born, Raymond, to Julius Kolbe and Mary Dabrowska on January 17, 1894. At the age of ten years old, he had a vision of the Blessed Mother. She presented him with two crowns and asked him to choose between them. The first crown was white representing purity and the second was red representing martyrdom. Young Maximilian chose both! Like many saints before him, he knew as a child that he had a vocation to religious life. At the age of 13 years old, he joined The Conventual Franciscans and made his first set of vows in 1911. After years of study in his home country of Poland, Maximilian was sent to study in Rome. He was ordained a priest on April 28, 1918.

Many people know how this great saint gave up his life in the concentration camp of Auschwitz, standing in for a man who had a family. After days of surviving with other prisoners in a starvation hut, his German captives injected Father Maximilian Kolbe with carbolic acid. He died and entered heavenly glory on August 14, 1941. The man, who St. Maximilian Kolbe stood in for, Seargeant Francis Gajowniczek, survived World War II. He spent the rest of his life speaking on the Saint of Auschwitz around the world.

What many people don’t know about this great modern saint is that he had an intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He had such a love for the Blessed Mother that he founded the group – “Militia of Mary Immaculate.” This group began with humble beginnings at the time of his ordination in 1918. It has grown to be a worldwide organization within the boundaries of the Catholic Church. It has received the blessings of many popes over the years.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe founded the Militia Immaculate in response to the growing threat of Free Masonry (Freemasons). While still a student in Rome; he was walking home to the college and witnessed in St. Peter’s Square an unauthorized demonstration of Free Masonry. They were denouncing the Church, the Pope, and had a picture of Satan crushing the head of St. Michael the Archangel. The Freemasons were and still are a great danger to the Catholic Church. Where Communism and Socialism would stand face-to-face with the Church, the Freemasons would sneak around the back of the Church and pick pocket her from behind. The Militia Immaculate has a two-fold purpose – 1. Re-conquer the universe and return it to Jesus Christ through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and 2. Spiritually battle the evils of Free Masonry. [I will soon do a blog post on the dangers of the Freemasons.]

Blessed John Paul II, a fellow Pole, canonized Saint Maximilian Kolbe on October 10, 1982. Blessed John Paul said at his canonization Mass, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” These are the words we have repeated in today’s responsorial psalm. It is truly precious and inestimable! Through the death, which Christ underwent on the Cross, the redemption of the world was achieved, for this death has the value of supreme love. Through the death of Father Maximilian Kolbe, a shining sign of this love was renewed in our century which is do seriously and in so many ways threatened by sin and death… The inspiration of his whole life was the Immaculata. To her he entrusted his love for Christ and his desire for martyrdom. In the mystery of the Immaculate Conception there revealed itself before the eyes of his soul that marvelous and supernatural world of God’s grace offered to man… And so, in virtue of my apostolic authority, I have decreed that Maximilian Maria Kolbe-who after his Beatification was venerated as a Confessor-shall henceforward be venerated also as a Martyr!”

For more information on Saint Maximilian Kolbe here in the United States, please visit the website of Marytown – The National Shrine of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. For more information on the Militia Immaculata and Consecration, please visit their website.