Maximilian Kolbe's Last Letter Is Opened to Public

Sent to His Mother from Auschwitz

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ROME, OCT. 10, 2002 ( For the 20th anniversary of the canonization of Maximilian Kolbe, the Conventual Friars Minor of Poland opened the archives at Niepokalanow, the «City of the Immaculate,» built by the priest himself.

Among the saint’s manuscripts is the last letter he wrote to his mother.

The letter expresses a tenderness not manifested in other writings. Its contents indicates that his sacrifice — he voluntarily offered his life in place of a father of a family sentenced to death in Auschwitz — was something that matured over a lifetime.

«Dear Mother,» he wrote. «Toward the end of May I arrived by railway convoy at the Auschwitz concentration camp. All is well with me, dear Mother. You can be at peace about me and my health, because the good God is everywhere and he thinks with great love about everyone and everything. It would be better if you did not write me until I send you another letter, because I don’t know how long I will be here. With kind greetings and kisses, Raymond Kolbe.»

On Aug. 14, 1941, Father Kolbe was given a lethal injection in the camp’s death bunker.

For the two previous weeks, he had had nothing to eat or drink, surviving along with four of the 16 inmates condemned in reprisal for an escape. Father Kolbe was the last one to die.

One year after his election, John Paul II said in Auschwitz: «Maximilian Kolbe did as Jesus did: He did not suffer death but gave his life.»

The expression refers to words written by Father Kolbe a few weeks before the Nazis invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939: «To suffer, work and die like a knight, not with a normal death but, for example, with a bullet in the head, sealing our love for the Immaculate, like a real knight spilling our own blood to the last drop, to hasten the conquest of the whole world for Her. I cannot conceive of anything more sublime.»

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