Saint Maximillian Kolbe

St. Maximillian Kolbe, 1967, sgraffito
Lobby, Chapel, St. Francis Conventual Residence, Athol Springs, NY

The figure of St. Maksymilian is shown with the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in the background. There, during the Second World War, the Nazis tried to dehumanize people. Fr. Maksymilian Kolbe courageously stood up in defense of the dignity of the maltreated prisoners when he gave his life for one of them, a man who was condemned to death through starvation in a bunker. High above his head there are two crowns, a choice offered him in his youth by the Immaculate Conception, the white one - signifying purity, and the red - martyrdom. Maksymilian already in childhood chose both crowns. It was in camp that he chose the red one. He stepped out from the ranks during a punitive roll-call, taking the place of the condemned man. The artist presents him not in the striped clothing of the camp, but in the Franciscan habit. His fellow prisoners are shown carrying out in wheelbarrows the bodies of their murdered colleagues. The guard towers and barbed wires charged with high voltage were supposed to take away all hope of rescue, and served to warn that the only escape to freedom was in the form of smoke rising from the furnaces of the crematory.