On Friday January 8, 2021, the 127th anniversary of the birth of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, a Mass was celebrated at the Basilica in Niepokalanów, Poland, in preparation for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Knight of the Immaculata magazine (Rycerz Niepokalanej).
The Mass was presided over by the Vicar Provincial of the Province of the Immaculate Mother of God in Poland (Warsaw) Friar Mirosław BARTOS. During the liturgy, the friars prayed for all of the readers of the Knight of the Immaculata, living and deceased, and that the Conventual Franciscan publishing house in Niepokalanów might be further developed.
On the 99th anniversary of the founding of the Knight of the Immaculata, we recall with admiration the magazine’s beautiful and sometimes difficult history. According to what St. Maximilian intended, it was to be an “organ of the Militia of the Immaculata”, which he founded in Rome in 1917, in response to the aggression of Masonic circles against the Church. In January of 1922, at the friary in Cracow, Kolbe published the first issue of the magazine. It started with a circulation of five thousand. From month to month, interest in the Knight grew and so did its circulation. The operation soon had to be moved to the friary in Grodno, which offered better conditions for developing a publishing house. After five years, even this place became too cramped for printing forty-thousand copies each month. Thus, Friar Maximilian had to found a new friary and publishing house, which he called Niepokalanów (the City of the Immaculate). It would take only eleven years for the circulation to reach an unimaginable number. In December of 1938, one million copies of the monthly magazine were printed.
During World War II, the Knight of the Immaculata appeared only once, but soon after hostilities ended, its publication was resumed. Unfortunately, in 1952, the communist authorities banned further printing of the Knight. It remained banned until the fall of 1981.
In St. Maximilian’s day, the Knight of the Immaculata for Young People (Rycerzyk Niepokalanej) began publication in Niepokalanów in 1933. It was followed by the Little Knight of the Immaculata for Children (Mały Rycerzyk Niepokalanej) in 1938, and the Missionary Bulletin (Biuletyn Misyjny) in 1939. In 1935, the publication of the daily Small Newspaper (Mały Dziennik) was launched. The newspaper had a weekday circulation of 160,000 and a Sunday circulation of 250,000.
At present, the publishing house in Niepokalanów prints the Knight of the Immaculata, the Little Knight of the Immaculata and the Knight of Youth magazines, as well as books on Mariology, Franciscanism and the biographies of saints.
Friar Piotr SZCZEPAŃSKI