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One-man play brings St. Maximilian Kolbe to life

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“Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz” brings to stage the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the priest with a lifelong devotion to Mary who volunteered to take the place of another prisoner selected for execution at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. 

“Personally, I’m always teaching (my) kids how sainthood is not just something that happened 500 years ago,” said Miguel De Ángel, director of youth and young adult ministries at Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria. “Saints are being made now in our schools and our gyms.” De Ángel helped to organize the show’s performance at Good Shepherd, one of five churches and schools within the diocese to host the play this month. “The reason we bring (the play) to parishes is we want to bring it close to the people,” De Ángel said.

The one-man play, performed by Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions, uses music, projected images and historic footage of Nazi Germany to augment Defilippis’ portrayal as he shifts into different roles including the imprisoned Maximilian Kolbe and a Nazi. 

St. Maximilian Kolbe was born Raymund Kolbe in Zduńska-Wola, Poland, in 1894. He joined the Conventual Franciscans in 1907, and was given the name Maximilian when he entered the novitiate. He was later sent to Rome where he earned doctorates in philosophy and theology. While a student, he also organized the Militia Immaculatae, or Army of the Immaculate, to promote the veneration of Mary. He was ordained a priest in 1918. 

Kolbe returned to Poland to teach before traveling to Asia as a missionary. Due to poor health, he returned to the monastery in Niepokalanów, Poland, in 1936. In 1941, he was arrested by the German gestapo and imprisoned before being transferred to Auschwitz. When a prisoner escaped the camp, Nazi officials selected 10 prisoners to be executed by starvation as punishment. Though not initially selected, Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take the place of another prisoner who had a family. He died Aug. 14, 1941, and his body was cremated the next day, the feast of the Assumption of Mary. He was canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II in 1982. 

Find out more

“Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz” will be performed at the following dates and locations:

Sept. 23 — Christendom College in Front Royal, school gym, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 25 — Church of the Nativity in Burke, Fr. Martin Center, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 — All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, parish activity center, 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 — Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Garwood Whaley Auditorium, 7:30 p.m., co-sponsored by the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria.

Sept. 29 — Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, Creedon Hall, 4 p.m.

For more info, go to stlukeproductions.com/dramas/maximilian/production.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019