“Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13
As a student, the young Raymond excelled in what we now call the STEM areas of study (science, technology, engineering, and math). He also had a passionate interest in all things military. A childhood dream of the priesthood was almost lost for this ardent patriot with a soldier’s heart, as he had hoped for a military career defending his beloved Poland. Complications caused him to abandon these plans and he entered the Franciscan noviate late in 1910 and was ordained in 1918.
His still had a soldier’s heart, but now waged a spiritual war. With several friends a new type of army was founded, the Militia Immaculatae, an army to convert sinners and bring all to love Mary Immaculate.
By the time he was in his early thirties, Fr. Kolbe founded a religious house near Warsaw, Niepokalanów – the City of the Immaculate, from which to expand his evangelization efforts. Starting with a handful of friars, within a decade it grew to house nearly 1,000! He and a handful of his brothers travelled to Japan, where they opened another house in Nagasaki.
Fr. Kolbe was a man of his times and thoroughly modern in his evangelization. The friars’ made use of the most modern printing technology and distribution strategies for their materials, their arsenal in the Militia’s spiritual war. They had started a radio station and Fr. Kolbe even had plans for a movie studio.