Maximilian Saint of Auschwitz Performance

“This very day begin to serve God…. Live it as if it were, indeed, the last day.” – Maximilian Kolbe

‘Our companion this Lent will be a saint less than a century removed from our times: Maximilian Kolbe, Polish patriot, Franciscan priest, founder, friend, ecumenist, publisher, missionary, and martyr. In the end, his body was reduced to ashes, becoming little more than the smudged cross on our forehead on Ash Wednesday. Kolbe’s beginnings were unremarkable, the middle son of devout Catholic parents who were weavers by trade. In his retreat before priestly ordination, Maximilian jotted down a long series of terse notes to himself, many about remaining in the moment using it well, honoring the woman of faith he treasured most: Mary. Write a word or sentence now about your intention this Lent, not so much a resolution as a desire to journey this Lent with a hero who can encourage and inspire you. What is that choice?’

Praying with St. Maximilian

‘Saint of our times, guide us to recognize and embrace opportunities to increase our spiritual stamina. You relied on the Blessed Mother. We take her for our own.’ (Lent with Maximilian Kolbe, Daily Reflections by Carol Ann Morrow)

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The Production

(A summary by St. Luke Productions)

Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz is a dramatic one-man Catholic theater performance by Leonardo Defilippis. The play opens when the young Raymond Kolbe expresses his desire to be a priest. In spite of the trials he encounters as a seminarian, the Blessed Mother sustains him in his journey. In a vision, she offers him the choice between two crowns – one of purity or one of martyrdom. He boldly chooses both. This now sets the stage for the unfolding of the intense plot. In this tour-de-force performance, Defilippis switches effortlessly from Maximilian Kolbe to Nazi, alternating dramatically between good and evil. The audience is drawn into the compelling events of this courageous life and into Kolbe’s message of trust. Maximilian is completed by a breath-taking musical score. Our updated version of the play also includes projected images and newsreels of Nazi Germany. This historical footage makes the story come alive in a visceral manner. Now, perhaps more than ever, Maximilian has a special relevance for our time. The play offers an engaging reflection on the dangers we face in the current attack on religious freedom. This story is one of sacrificial love and of martyrdom for the Catholic Church. Defilippis says, “Saint Maximilian Kolbe has a powerful, yet cautionary, message for all of us – not to take the freedoms we cherish for granted, but rather to defend them with our lives.” Maximilian premiered at the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver before an audience of 2500. In honor of the opening, Leonardo Defilippis received a special plaque of Saint Maximilian. It was signed by Francis Gajowniczek – the very man for whom Fr. Maximilian offered his life in Auschwitz! Defilippis also performed at World Youth Day 2000. There, several thousand young people witnessed the production at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels and Martyrs in Rome. Countless people of many faiths and walks of life have seen this production. Audience members have included survivors of Auschwitz, former Nazi soldiers, and several who were in the very same lineup with Fr. Kolbe that fateful day. Brother Jerome, the personal secretary to Saint Maximilian, saw the play at age 83. Several seminarians who worked directly with Fr. Kolbe have also witnessed this live drama. Over the years, Leonardo Defilippis has had the privilege of performing in many different venues. He was especially honored to perform for Mother Angelica and her Poor Clare Sisters in a private performance. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta gave her personal blessing upon this show and wanted her sisters to experience it.


“I had a beautiful and wonderful re-encounter with our Mother, the Immaculate Conception, whom I had abandoned. I am very blessed and thankful for such a wonderful gift of faith and love.” ~ A.M., Huber Heights, OH
“I watched Maximilian at the Martyr of St. George nuns at Alton, IL about 25 years ago, and I can still hear you singing ‘Who are you, O Immaculate Conception? Who are you, and what would you have me do?’ Is that grace or what?” ~ Fr. H., IL
“I saw Maximilian as a young person in the 1980’s and can still remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach as he willingly accepted death so he could receive both his white & red crowns. It was at that moment I realized that Catholicism is not for wimps.” ~ S. B., Milton, WA

We need able bodied volunteers willing to sell tickets for the St. Luke Production of St. Maximilian Kolbe before the event arrives.  Anyone interested, please contact Cynthia Saar, Fr. Barr, or leave a message with Emily at the church office.  We gladly welcome your involvement in making your church parish events successful.

Please spread the word as much as you can! We hope to have a successful turn out.