Father Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish priest who died as prisoner 16770 in Auschwitz, on August 14, 1941. He volunteered to take the place of another inmate. In order to save the other inmate he said I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children.’ The German soldiers took him up on his offer. He consistently waited until the other prisoners received help before asking for any for himself. His destiny for martyrdom began many years before when as a child he remembered after he had gotten in trouble. ‘That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.’ These words would end up being a foreshadowing of his life many years later. Fr. Kolbe led his fellow prisoners in prayer to the Holy Mother Mary until his death. Some have even said the prison camp at time resembled church as the men awaited their fate. He provided a source of light in a brutally dark and cruel place. He spent two weeks in a cell of death, being starved along with nine other prisoners. He was finally given a lethal injection of carbolic acid on 14 August 1941. […]
On Tuesday March 11, 2015 Pope Francis approved the decree for martyrdom for Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero.
Romero was murdered while celebrating mass on March 24, 1980. By approving the decree this clears the path for Romero for beatification. The beatification is scheduled to be an outdoor mass on May 23, 2015.
“This will be a moment treasured not only for Salvadorians, but for Catholics worldwide. The ceremony will be in Plaza Divino Salvador del Mundo, Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the chief promoter of the archbishop’s sainthood cause, said at a news conference Wednesday in San Salvador.”
The normal process of beatification requires the presence of a verified miracle. This is not the case for those martyred for their faith. Pope Frances appears to be fast tracking Romero through this process. Romero has been considered a saint by the Salvadorian people for years.
Authoritarian, corrupt or rogue regimes, their leaders, and their beneficiaries often behave in similar ways in different countries. They fear their democratic opponents and rely on the secret police to keep themselves in power through monitoring, intimidating, jailing and sometimes killing those who may challenge their repressive rule. Although Poland of the 1980s and today’s Russia are not exactly alike, there may be enough similarities worth exploring between the 1984 murder of a Catholic priest in Poland and the assassination of Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov in Moscow last week.