Shakespeare had Mark Anthony say that the evil men do lives after them, while the good is often interred with their bones. But the reality is that the good men do lives after them too.
The story of how a Polish Franciscan priest Fr. Maximilian Kolbe gave his life in Auschwitz in place of another man who had a wife and children to consider is well known. Franciszek Gajowniczek whose life was saved, went on to tell thank God and the priest for his life, and was present at the canonisation of Fr. Maximilian.
It wasn’t just one man’s life this priest had saved however. His monastery had hidden something like 2000 Jewish people (after Pope Pius XII had asked this of all the Church – and the Holy Father himself saved around 800,000 Jewish lives).
I learned today, thanks to my knowledgable friend Shana, that St. Maximilian had built a monastery in Japan during his missionary days there. He built it on the “wrong” side of a mountain just outside Nagasaki. Even though the Japanese builders warned him that he had chosen the wrong side, he insisted on it.
When the bomb was dropped some years later the Franciscans were shielded by the mountain and survived. There was a Church and monastic house in the middle of Hiroshima as well which despite being right in the middle of the bomb site remained untouched and all the priests survived.
St. Maximilian did much work in Japan and Poland. His love of the Blessed Mother helped him shine.
The legacy of his work and love does live after him.
St Maximilian Kolbe ora pro nobis.