Franciscan Intellectual Tradition Blog

Latest News and Seasonal Reflections from CFIT

Maximilian Kolbe

76 years ago, August 14, 1941, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe OFM. Conv., was killed with a phenol injection inside a starvation cell of Block 11 of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Kolbe was born in 1894 at Zdunska Wola near Lodz, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire) to a devout but poor family. As a teenager, he determined to become a Franciscan and so illegally crossed the border into the Austro-Hungarian Empire where he studied at the Conventual minor seminary in Lvov and entered the Order in 1910. Friar Maximilian was a brilliant student who excelled in what we would call today STEM subjects; after his profession, he was sent on for studies in Rome, where he earned doctorates in both philosophy and theology.

 Kolbes RoomDuring his years in Italy, he witnessed violent anti-clerical demonstrations and became convinced of the need to mobilize Catholics to profess their faith in

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Feast of St. Clare

On August 11, the Franciscan family celebrates the feast of St. Clare of Assisi (1193/94-1253), the first woman to join Francis and his brothers in their new Gospel way of life. 

Clare was born into one of the feudal land-owning families of Assisi, spending some years in the neighboring city of Perugia due to class warfare in Assisi. Several years after her family's return to Assisi, she determined to embark on a life of penance in her family home, but, inspired by conversations she had with Francis, she decided to abandon her family and social status, and in 1211 or 1212 became part of the new movement of a "life according to the Holy Gospel" at the Portiuncula. She and several other women who soon joined her quickly settled at the church of San Damiano. Francis told them:

"Since by divine inspiration you have made yourselves daughters and servants of the

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 Benedict the African

On April 3, the Franciscan family honors the memory of St. Benedict the Black or Benedict the African (1526-1589). He was referred to in Italian as “il Moro” (dark-skinned), and this was often translated into English as “the Moor.”

Benedict was born at San Fratello, a small town near Palermo, Sicily, to an African slave couple. Due to their good service, their son was declared free at birth. Benedict became a hard- working shepherd, devoted to prayer; he never went to school due to his poverty and remained illiterate all his life. When he was 21, a nobleman witnessed his patient attitude when insulted because of his race, and invited him to come with him and form an independent group of lay Franciscan hermits; there Benedict became the cook, and eventually became head of the group.

In 1564, Pope Pius V ordered groups of lay hermits to join an established

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