On Saturday, January 8, 2022, the 128th birthday of St. Maximilian Maria KOLBE, the publishing house and friary in Niepokalanów celebrated the 100th anniversary of the publication of the first issue of the magazine Knight of the Immaculate. St. Maximilian was the magazine’s founder and first editor.
The anniversary celebrations began with a brief symposium featuring two speakers. The first speaker, Friar Tomasz SZYMCZAK, told the story of the magazine’s creation and development. “Since Providence sent me to the Friary of the Twelve Holy Apostles in Rome, it will not be entirely meaningless if I try to look at the story of the ‘Knight’ from that perspective, from the perspective of Rome, from the perspective of the General Curia.” Friar Tomasz gave an interesting presentation on the beginnings of the Knight of the Immaculate and its development over the years “The story of the ‘Knight’ is a story of faith. It is a story of fervor and folly. In 1927, the magazine was being published in Niepokalanów, in 1930 Japan, and in 1933 there was talk of publishing it in Korea. Moreover, these beginnings, as we have seen, were unusually humble. What would the story of the ‘Knight’ have been if Maximilian had survived the war? We can only guess. The documents of the Order show that working on the ‘Knight’ united the friars and that vocations and friaries sprang up around the ‘Knight,’ and because of the ‘Knight.’ The ‘Knight’ fascinated, attracted and inspired the whole Order. The Order followed its growing circulation with interest. One could always and immediately use such a ‘Knight.’”
The second speaker was Friar Marcin TKACZYK who analyzed the impact of the “Knight” on its readers. He mentioned the magazine’s original objectives: “The Knight of the Immaculate was created to achieve four goals. The first was to deepen and strengthen faith; second, to show what true asceticism was; third, to make known Christian mysticism; and fourth, to work towards the conversion of non-Catholics, in keeping with the principles of the Militia of the Immaculate.
The highpoint of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Knight of the Immaculate was a Mass at the basilica in Niepokalanów. The Most Reverend Marek JĘDRASZEWSKI, Metropolitan Archbishop of Cracow, presided.
At the beginning of the liturgy, the Guardian of Niepokalanów, Friar Mariusz SŁOWIK, addressed the archbishop, saying, “The presence of your Excellency is significant and eloquent. Cracow was the first place where the Knight of the Immaculate was published. Later it was published in Grodno, and finally in Niepokalanów. Therefore, the presence of the Archbishop of Cracow has both a historical and a symbolic dimension.”
On behalf of Pope Francis, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Pietro Cardinal PAROLIN, sent a letter addressed to the magazine’s current director and the faithful gathered in the Basilica. The letter was read aloud by the Director of the Niepokalanów Publishing House, Friar Krzysztof ONISZCZUK: “The Holy Father Francis is very grateful for the information sent on the 100th anniversary of the Catholic magazine, Knight of the Immaculate, founded by St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in January of 1922. His Holiness entrusts the current director, editorial staff, employees and readers of the Knight of the Immaculate to the Virgin Mother of God; to St. Joseph, the Guardian of the Holy Family; and to St. Maximilian; and heartily imparts his apostolic blessing to all.”
In his homily, Archbishop JĘDRASZEWSKI stated: “Father Maximilian M. KOLBE knew perfectly well that if we do not have Catholic media, our churches will one day be empty. The truth about man and the Church of Christ must be proclaimed to the world. We must show that God is in our midst.” He added: “The editing and publishing of the monthly magazine Knight of the Immaculate is part of the work of revealing God to the world today. It also reveals Christ to the world; it must reveal Him through an anthropological perspective, by showing the full truth of the Church and by showing that we are not alone, even when surrounded by evil that often shouts and overwhelms. May this mission to reveal God’s love to the world last as long and effectively as possible.”
Currently, the Knight of the Immaculate has a circulation of over 45,000 readers and is available in both print and digital format. Since February of 2021, the readers have also been able to request an audio version.
To further celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first issue of the Knight of the Immaculate, the magazine’s editorial staff has decided to attach a reprint of the original 1922 “Knight,” edited and published by St. Maximilian, to each issue of the magazine throughout 2022.
Friar Piotr SZCZEPAŃSKI