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Self-sacrificing saint

St. Maximilian Kolbe Church, Pembroke Pines

PEMPROKE PINES | St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Pembroke Pines, is named for a Holocaust-era martyr whose feast day is August 14.

Kolbe was a Franciscan who founded communities in his native Poland, and in Japan as well. He returned to Germany in 1936 because of ill health. Five years later, he was arrested and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

He is revered for his sacrifice in the camp, offering his life in 1941 for a young husband and father who was scheduled for execution. Pope John Paul II canonized Kolbe in 1982, the year before the Pembroke Pines parish was founded.

"His faith gave him the dignity to live and die knowing that, despite whatever horrendous condition he experienced, God is always with us," says the parish website.

Maximilian Kolbe is also the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, and the pro-life movement. 

At the groundbreaking of the parish church that bears his name, members filled a box with symbols of Judaism as well as Christianity: a New Testament, a ram’s horn and a mezuzah. The box was then laid in the spot over which the altar was built.

A life-size statue of St. Maximilian Kolbe stands on the church grounds, facing Hiatus Road. The bonded bronze statue was created by Sister Margaret Beaudette, a sculptor and member of the Sisters of Charity of New York who lives in Mount Vernon, N.Y.

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