Wednesday, July 20, 2016

WYD Trek: TNG -- Day 2

Visiting the Sanctuary of St. Kolbe (and how St. John Paul II inspired Poland)

A statue of Pope John Paul II stands outside the sanctuary of St. Maximilian
Kolbe in Teresin, Poland. (Credit: Josh Tng.)

A visit from St. John Paul II allegedly inspired Poland to overthrow communism.

Today we visited the place where Pope John Paul II spoke to the people of Warsaw. When he spoke he inspired so much power in the people, they apparently chanted, "We want God! We want God!"

Father Richard Au, the spiritual director for our WYD group, and impromptu fun fact guy, shared this and several other fun stories throughout the day as we visited the Sanctuary of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

St. Kolbe died in the Second World War. Learning about his history taught us a lesson in purity and martyrdom. St. Kolbe was imprisoned in Auschwitz, where he was killed.

His death came about because of his selflessness. After three prisoners escaped, 10 prisoners were chosen to be killed through starvation, as the Nazi jailors wanted to send a message to the other prisoners. When the last man, Franciszek Gajowniczek, fell down to the ground, he cried, "My wife! My children!" He begged the guards for mercy and St. Kolbe volunteered to take his place.

St. Kolbe's suffering inspired several prisoners. After two weeks, only St. Kolbe was alive. The guards decided to murder him by injecting him with carbolic acid.

Gajowniczek was present for St. Kolbe's canonization in 1982.

Franciszek Gajowniczek, 1941, Auschwitz prisoner 26273.
(Nov. 15, 1901 March 13, 1995)
Looking through St. Kolbe's room and viewing some of his relics revealed to us who the saint was: a peaceful, prayerful man who lived for his faith. Hopefully, many will continue to be inspired by the saint's acts of kindness, love, and self-sacrifice.

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