What could the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, the radio call sign SP3RN, and the prisoner number 16670 have in common?
Among the twenty stone statues of Christian Martyrs that stand above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London, is one of a Roman Catholic Franciscan Priest from Poland. He holds in his hands an open book on whose pages are carved two crowns, representing purity and martyrdom. His statue, with the others, stands as a silent witness to love and faithfulness.
Maximilian Maria Kolbe was a man ahead of his time. He believed that all the various forms of the media of his day could be used to spread the Gospel in a marvelous way, and he proved it’s effectiveness. Using the most modern techniques, printing presses in his monasteries put out all manner of devotional tracts, catechetical books and magazines, even a newspaper.
Besides all of that, Saint Maximilian built and operated a radio station – the beginnings of Catholic radio! He is the only canonized saint to have ever held an amateur radio license! His call sign was SP3RN, and he put it to good use. He was the first to use radio to spread the light of faith amidst the ever growing darkness that was beginning to envelop Europe through the rise of Nazism. As Hitler’s ideology gained momentum, he was not afraid to speak out against the terrible evil that it was.
As is the case with all regimes, truth is feared. Maximilian Kolbe, who was a voice in the darkness, could not be tolerated, he had to be silenced. He was arrested by the Gestapo and eventually transported to Auschwitz. As he entered the gates of that terrible place of darkness and hopelessness, he was assigned a new number, prisoner 16670.
In that hellish death camp, he brought the light of love and truth his enemies had so desperately tried to extinguish, he gave his life for another, dying as a martyr of charity.
If Saint Maximilian were alive today there is no question he would be using television and radio to evangelize. He would be broadcasting, podcasting, tweeting and texting with the zeal of a Saint Paul!
Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe, through the intercession of the Immaculate, pray for those who work in Catholic Media. Pray for us all!