On June 4, 2018 motorcyclists on an endurance rally – or rather a pilgrimage – left Poland to commemorate the 100th anniversary of St. Maximilian Maria KOLBE’s ordination to the priesthood.
The participants departed from the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz, where St. Maximilian’s priesthood came to fruition as a gift of life for a fellow prisoner who had been sentenced to death by starvation.
The pilgrims’ route led them through Kahlenberg (Vienna, Austria). It was there, during the seventeenth century, that Polish knights – the “progenitors” of the Knights of the Immaculate – resisted the Turkish hordes in Europe.
The pilgrimage continued to Assisi and then to Padua, to the Basilica of the Saint, where the precious relics of St. Anthony lie alongside an altar dedicated to St. Maximilian. The altar has an unusually expressive painting by Pietro Annigoni.
From there, the pilgrims’ road led them through the Apennines to Rome. On the way, they stopped at the cemetery of Polish soldiers at Monte Cassino to honor the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence.
On Sunday morning, June 10, the motorcyclists visited Rome’s Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle, where one hundred years ago, St. Maximilian was ordained a priest. Next, they went to St. Peter’s Square to recite the Angelus with the Pope.
Afterwards, they had dinner at the friary of the Twelve Holy Apostles where the hospitality was truly fraternal and made a lasting impression in the hearts and memories of the participants.
The pilgrims also went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, where St. Maximilian celebrated his first Mass and they visited the friary of St. Maximilian KOLBE on Via San Teodoro (better known as Casa Kolbe), where Maximilian became a priest and where the Militia of the Immaculata was founded.
Once they got back to Poland, they stopped at three important Kolbean sites: Zduńska Wola (his birthplace), Pabianice (the city he grew up in) and Niepokalanów (the City of the Immaculate). In this way, Rajmund KOLBE’s childhood and his life’s work, became the unifying theme of the whole pilgrimage.
During the trip, there were visits to other places of spiritual note: Mariazell, Lanciano, Manoppello, Rivotorto, San Damiano, Porziuncola, Loreto, Łagiewniki, etc. There were many unforgettable moments that could only be had by motorcycle – experiencing the curves of alpine and Apennine roads, the scent of meadows, the beauty of nature, etc. Praised be You, my Lord!
Everyone came back home – so they say – safe, sound and hopeful that they will improve.
Friar Marek KIEDROWICZ, OFM Conv., Chaplain of the group