By Lida João
This week is very auspicious. It starts with remembering Fr Maxmilian Kolbe the patron saint of our difficult century on August 14 quickly followed by the feast of the Assumption of Mary, on August 15 which is a day of obligation and on this day coincidentally the remains of Fr Maxmilian were cremated.
Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan friar famous for volunteering to die in the place of a stranger at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Kolbe was born as Rajmund Kolbe on January 8, 1894. His parents were Julius Kolbe an ethnic German and Maria Dabrowska, a lady of polish origin. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners and the pro-life movement. He earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1915 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and a doctorate in theology in 1919 at the Pontifical University of St Bonaventure. The monastery he founded remains prominent in the Roman Catholic Church in Japan. Kolbe decided to build the monastery on a mountain side which according to Shinto beliefs, was not the side best suited to be in tune with nature. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Kolbe’s monastery was saved because the blast of the bomb hit the other side of the mountain, which took the main force of the blast. Had Kolbe built the monastery on the preferred side of the mountain as he was advised, his work and all of his fellow monks would have been destroyed. Maxmilian was active as a radio amateur vilifying Nazi activities through his reports. On February 17, 1941 he was arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison, and on May 25 was transferred to Auschwitz I as prisoner #16670. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe and three others were still alive. Finally he was murdered with an injection of carbolic acid. Upon his death on August 14, 1941 he was declared a martyr of charity.
He was canonised on October 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II. Due to his efforts to promote Consecration and entrustment to Mary, he is known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary he inspires us to bring all souls to the Sacred Heart of Christ through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Feast of the Assumption is celebrated annually on August 15 by many countries, particularly in parts of Europe and South America. In Italy, colourful processions through the streets and firework displays are held whereas in São Paulo and other parts of Southern Brazil, the feast is known as Nosa Senhora dos Navegantes -Our Lady of the Navigators. The idea of prosperity is also evident as in some cultures coins are thrown from windows down to the street. Symbolic images of the Virgin Mary and her assumption into heaven have been associated with the day. Blue is colour most often associated with the Virgin Mary. It symbolises truth and clarity, and it is the colour of the sky, which symbolises heaven. The lily, which is a symbol of purity, chastity, and simplicity, is also associated with the Virgin Mary.
"No one in the world can change truth.
What we can do and should do is seek it and serve it when it is found."
This holiday, celebrated since the fourth century, is a Christianization of an earlier harvest festival and, in many parts of Europe, is known as the Feast of Our Lady of the Harvest.
In India too we have the feast of the Assumption coinciding with our Independence Day which is also a national holiday. In many a parishes in Goa this feast is celebrated as the “Konsanchem fest”, where the first sheaves of paddy, Konsa are cut, commemorating a rich harvest, and the blessed sheaves are taken by the religious and placed in their respective altars at their houses for endowing new hope, peace and blessings from above. This feast signifies our oneness with nature, to preserve the surrounding bounty and our environment in particular. One of the well known churches celebrates this feast with great fervour, it is Nossa Senhora de Assumpta, a neo – Roman style church of Velsão founded in 1635 and, situated in Mormugão taluka.