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A Man Of Faith

A Man Of Faith
Minister for Defence and National Security Ratu Inoke Kubuabola
October 05
13:37 2014

Raymund Kolbe was born on  January 8, 1894 in Poland, his father was German, his mother Polish.
Kolbe developed a strong religious yearning from an early life and at the age of 13, he left home to enroll in a convent where he learned about the true religious values  of  Love, Compassion and Forgiveness.
In 1910, at age 26 he was given the name Maximillian and took his final vows as a monk. He went to study in Rome, Italy where he gained a doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
In 1930, Kolbe travelled to Japan, where he spent several years serving as a missionary. He sought to accept local Japanese customs. and chose the location of building for his monastery based on Japanese Shinto customs. He also entered into dialogue with local Buddhist priests and some of them became great friends.
In 1936 he returned to Poland and in 1939 at the start of the Second World War, Kolbe was arrested for suspicion of helping Jewish and Polish people alike but was released after three months.
Once he was released, he continued to help the poor and needy. Kolbe helped to hide, feed and clothe 3000 Polish and Jewish refugees. In 1941, he published an article offering strong criticism of the brutal Nazi regime.
Shortly after this publication, on the February  17, 1941, he was arrested again by the Germans for his public criticism and sent to the most feared prison, Auschwitz concentration camp and branded prisoner 16670.
He was sent to the prison work camp and made to carry blocks of heavy stone for the building of a crematorium wall. He was always singled out for particularly brutal treatment, but Kolbe accepted his mistreatment and vicious kicks and blows with surprising calm and restraint.
Despite the awful conditions of Auschwitz, Kolbe retained a deep faith and dignity in the face of appalling treatment that was given to him.
On one occasion he was made to carry the heaviest planks of wood until he collapsed; Kolbe was then beaten savagely, leaving him almost dead in the mud. Fellow prisoners secretly moved him to the camp sleeping area, where he was able to rest and recover. Even with his life threatening injuries Kolbe always shared whatever small pieces of food he had with others.
In July 1941 the Deputy Commander of Auschwitz Prison ordered 10 men to be chosen to be starved to death in an underground bunker.
When one of the selected men Franciszek Gajowniczek heard he was selected, he cried out ‘My wife! My children!” At this point Kolbe stepped forward and volunteered to take his place. He said ‘I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children.’ The Commander could not believe what he was hearing, but was very pleased to have Kolbe suffer this intolerable death and quickly agreed.
The men were led away to the underground bunker where they were to be starved  and beaten to death. regardless of this Kolbe would calmly lead the men in prayer and sing hymns.
After two long weeks, all the prisoners except Kolbe had died due to dehydration and starvation. As he was still barely alive Kolbe was to be executed with a lethal injection.
Those present say he calmly accepted death, lifting up his arm and never once retaliated or showed any anger. On the contrary he showed the three traits instilled in him from an early age, which where Love, Compassion and Forgiveness right up until he breathed his last and final breath.

– The writer is a Fiji Sun
columnist.
Feedback:  ajayamrit@hotmail.com

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