A Great Cloud of Witnesses

On June 10, 2009, I published a post about our first weekly saint, St. Columba.  Since then, the list has grown considerably.  Most of them get the big ST, but not all.  The principle has been the examination of the lives and teachings of those who have gone before us.  Not all Christians of interest get the big ST.

We have looked at ancient, mediaeval, and post-mediaeval (‘modern’) Christians.  We have looked at Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and one Ethiopian Orthodox.  Apostolic men stand alongside poets who shake hands with mystics and martyrs.  All of these people have lived lives for Christ, and I hope that all of them can help bring us nearer to Christ by their example and teaching.

My selection has sometimes been from the Church Calendar.  Sometimes it has started there, as with Edmund James Peck (see in the list) and then extended by association; following Peck I wrote about other missionaries to the Arctic.  Sometimes they are chosen because I am reading about them or studying their work.

Often, if you have been following these weekly saints, you will have noticed that I give a brief biography of the saint, but not always.  Sometimes I offer a meditation on some aspect of the saint’s life and teaching.  Sometimes I ponder how best we might be able to honour or learn from a particular saint.  I hope these have been a blessing and will continue to bless!  Enjoy!

There are no women.  This is too bad.  I should fix this.  I meant to St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland, when her feast rolled on by, but posted about no saint that week.  She and others shall make their way into the saints for 2011.  Here are the Weekly Saints thus far:

St. Joseph the Carpenter

Pope St. Leo the Great (here & here)

St. John of the Cross

St. Ambrose of Milan

St. Andrew the Apostle

St. Albert Lacombe

St. John the Baptist

St. Thomas the Apostle

St. Matthias the Apostle

St. Boniface

St. Augustine of Canterbury

St. Anthony of Padua

Emperor Constantine the Great

St. Athanasius

Dante Alighieri

St. George the Dragonslayer

George MacDonald

Thomas Cranmer

St. Cuthbert

St. Gregory of Nyssa

John Wesley (here & here)

St. Polycarp of Smyrna

St. Valentine

St. Antony the Great

St. Jean de Brebeuf

St. Francis of Assisi

Hans Egede

St. Juvenaly of Alaska

Edmund James Peck

St. John of Damascus

Abba Giyorgis Saglawi

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Maximilian Kolbe

CS Lewis

St. Alban the Martyr

Sts. Peter and Paul

St. Basil the Great

St. Columba

Saint of the Week: Maximilian Kolbe

I have chosen the saint for this week to be St. Maximilian Kolbe, who is one of the 20th-century martyrs honoured above the entrance to Westminster Abbey in London.  Yesterday, August 14, was his feast day (it was also my brother’s birthday, so this is also partly to honour him as well as St. Maximilian).

Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941) was a Franciscan priest who demonstrated the spirit of St. Francis in harbouring Polish Jews during the Holocaust and fighting the Nazis on the radio.  These activities got him arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz.

In July of 1941, when one of the men of Kolbe’s barracks disappeared, the guards decided to transfer a sampling of men from his barracks to be starved to death.  One of the men who was selected to go made great lamentation, speaking of his family.

Kolbe took the man’s place.

Kolbe survived over three weeks with neither food nor water.  During this time, he led his fellow prisoners in prayers and songs.  Eventually, the guards murdered Kolbe with an injection of carbolic acid.

The man whom he saved, Franciszek Gajowniczek, lived to be released from Auschwitz and be reunited with his wife.

I am reminded of the words of our Lord and Saviour, “Great love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Let us all pray that we may have the faith and self-sacrifice of St. Maximilian Kolbe this day.