The Japanese Legacy of St. Maximilian Kolbe

Most people recognize St. Maximilian Kolbe as the priest who offered his life in the Auschwitz death camp to save a man who had a family. However, Maximilian Kolbe also left behind a legacy in Japan that would later make a huge difference during the end of WWII.

During the 1930s, Maximilian Kolbe went on a mission trip to Nagasaki, Japan. Even though he didn’t know any Japanese, he was able to create a Japanese version of his magazine Knight of the Immaculate. It grew to a circulation of 65,000 in 1936. He also founded a monastery in Nagasaki and decided to build it on what the locals believed was the “inauspicious” side of the mountain. When the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, that monastery miraculously survived because the other side of the mountain took the majority of the blast. Today, it serves as a center for Franciscan work.

I also feel like Maximilian’s legacy remains in Nagasaki in other ways. My brother got to visit the city as part of his college’s study abroad program. While he didn’t get to visit the monastery, he did see a lot of monuments dedicated to peace, not to mention a couple of Catholic churches, which are pretty hard to find in Japan. The Japanese’s hope for peace is something I think St. Maximilian Kolbe would be very proud of.

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