ROMAN FOOTPRINTS OF FATHER KOLBE
He arrived at the capital of Italy in 1911. At the Gregorian University he received PhD in philosophy in 1916, and in 1919 – in theology in the Seraphic College. On 28 April 1918 – exactly 100 years ago – he was ordained a priest in a church under vocation of Sant’ Andrea della Valle, an dnext day he celebrated his first Holy Mass in the basilica under vocation of Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte.
In order to celebrate this important anniversary, in churches related to those two events solemn Eucharists were celebrated. Both Holy Masses were celebrated by Fr. Raffaele Di Muro, a professor at the Papal Theological Faculty ‘Teresianum’ and the Papal Theological Faculty ‘San Bonawentura’, and the Holy Masses were concelebrated by co-brothers the Franciscans. Fr. Di Muro is a great expert of the Polish Saint – he is a director of the University department named Kolbe (‘Cattedra Kkolbiana’) at the Papal Theological Department ‘San Bonawentura’, a curator of letters of St. Maksymilian Kolbe, a director of the editorial office of the magazine ‘Miles Immaculatae’ and the international chairperson of the Militia of Immaculate Mary.
On 28 April this year, in the church in which 100 year ago cardinal Basilio Pompilij laid his hands on the head of the young Pole to ordain him a priest, a big group of brothers the Franciscans of Immaculate Mary gathered, as well as the authorities of the Italian centre of the Militia of Immaculate Mary and worshippers of St. Maksymilian. In his homily Fr. Di Muro reminded about spiritual retreat of Maksymilian experienced within his preparations for priestly ordination. During his retreat the future saint was taking notes in which there were ‘a lot of very beautiful reflections and tiny commandments which he gave to himself, thanking Immaculate Mary’. He wanted to form his priesthood as a gift from himself and place Eucharist in the centre of his priestly life. The priest reminded that Fr. Kolbe had used to celebrate the Holy Masses in every circumstance, also on a ship by which he was travelling to Japan and even in the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Whereas on Sunday 29 April the Eucharist to the memory of the first Holy Mass of Fr. Maksymilian was celebrated in the basilica under vocation of Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte, in the place of the only apparition of Our Lady in Rome, which was officially acknowledged by Church. On 20 January 1842 in the side chapel of the basilica Madonna appeared to a Jew Alfons Ratisbonne – it was Immaculate Mary from the Miraculous Medal known from the apparitions in Paris in 1830. After the apparition an atheist Ratisbonne got converted to Catholicism and immediately he asked for baptism and then he became a priest.
By the chapel there is a bust of Fr. Maksymilian and a memory table informing about the first Holy Mass of the Polish Franciscan. The anniversary Holy Mass at the altar of the apparitions with the image of Immaculate Mary was celebrated by the brothers the Franciscans from Paoli, custodians of the sanctuary, and by Fr. Di Muro, who also gave a homily. Fr. Rafaele, referring to the Sunday Gospel and words of Jesus: ‘Live in Me’, noted that this ‘living in Jesus’ was the heart of priesthood of Fr. Kolbe, but it also teaches us that we have to ‘live in Mary’. Hence, for this reason, the newly ordained Franciscan wanted to celebrate his first Holy Mass in the place of the apparitions of Our Lady and always returned here whenever he could. For him ‘Mary is God’s mercy’. At the end, the preacher emphasized that ‘belonging to Mary, a complete trustfulness in Mary’ remain the main features of holiness of Fr. Maksymilian Kolbe.
Celebrations of the 100th anniversary of priestly ordination of Fr. Kolbe took place in many places in the world connected with ‘The crazy man of Immaculate Mary’, and, mainly in Niepokalanów, where there was the current General Father of the Franciscan Order – Fr. Marco Tasca.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 19/2018 (13 V 2018)