Saint Maximilian Kolbe and St. John Paul II ready to frame print.
This icon was painted for a priest with a special devotion to both St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. John Paul II. The two men had many things in common. Both saints were Polish priests, both experienced the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War Two, and both worked to resist the Nazi occupation and genocide.
Kolbe was born in 1894, at a time when Poland was divided between the Russian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the age of twelve, he had a vision of the Virgin Mary which had a profound effect on him. He said: “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.”
While still in his teens, Kolbe began formation with the Franciscans, and at the age of 20 he made his final vows, taking the religious name Maximilian. Four years later he was ordained a priest. During the 1930s, Maximilian participated in several missionary trips to Japan, where he helped to found a Franciscan monastery outside Nagasaki. He also worked as a missionary in India.
Shortly before the outbreak of World War Two he returned to his native Poland. Shortly after the Nazi invasion of Poland, he was arrested by the German authorities. In 1941 he was sent to Auschwitz. In July of that year, the SS rounded up ten men to be starved to death in an underground bunker in retaliation for an escape from the camp. One of the men, a Polish army sergeant named Franciszek Gajowniczek cried out for his wife and children. Fr. Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take his place and was killed. Grajowniczek survived the war and lived on until 1995.
In 1982 Maximilian Kolbe was canonized a saint by John Paul II, who recognized him as both a saint and a martyr. His feast day is August 14th.
John Paul II, who canonized St. Maximilian Kolbe, was himself a Polish priest and survivor of Nazi occupation. John Paul had helped to shelter Jewish refugees from the Nazis during the war, and he was ordained in 1946. His ministry in Poland as a priest and bishop was while the Church was struggling under communist oppression. As pope, he inspired his fellow countrymen and the world, and was seen as a key figure in Poland’s eventual liberation.
In this icon, St. Maximilian Kolbe is shown with the two crowns from his childhood vision. He is also wearing both his habit as a Franciscan and the Auschwitz uniform of his martyrdom. Between the two saints is the image of the Miraculous Medal, to which both were devoted.
Ready to frame print. Professionally printed and ready to frame for your church or home.
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