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Maximilian Kolbe (1894 - 1941)

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Maximilian Kolbe died in Auschwitz Concentration Camp on 14 August 1941. He died horribly after volunteering to take the place of another prisoner selected for death by dehydration and starvation. You can read a brief version of that story in 'Man in Striped Pajamas'.
During World War II as a Polish Franciscan Friar, Maximilian Kolbe sheltered refugees from Greater Poland, including 2000 Jewish people in his friary at Niepokalanów. Using amateur radio he also actively spoke against Nazi activities. Such actions led to his arrest, imprisonment and death.
He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1983 as a 'martyr of charity'. At the ceremony in Rome, perhaps the most significant person present was Franciszek Gajowniczek. He was the prisoner whose place Maximilian took in offering his own life in exchange. That man survived Auschwitz and lived until 1995, aged 93.
You can read an interesting biography of Maximilian Kolbe in the Jewish Virtual Library. From that I learnt a l…

Clare of Assisi, Founder of the Minoresses (Poor Clares)

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Who was Clare of Assisi?
Was St Clare a teenage rebel who ran away from her wealthy home in Assisi?
If that's what St Clare did in the early 13th century, why is she still remembered today, the day of her death, 11 August?
Why is Clare of Assisi also known as St Clare?
And what is her connection with St Francis of Assisi?

Are you like me, you don't know much about St Clare?Would you like to know more? And you don't want to get bogged down in too much theological or academic writing?

Is so, you will find a simple starting point on the 'Our Roots' page of 'The Poor Clare Monastery, Hereford. This tells you a little about St Francis as well.

It is hard to understand Clare of Assisi without knowing something of the inspiration for simple Christian living that Clare found through the preaching of Francis of Assisi. The way of Francis, following in the way of Christ, inspired St Clare to found an order of contemplative nuns, known in her lifetime as 'the poor ladies of …

Mary Sumner, Founder of the Mothers' Union

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Who was Mary Sumner (1828 - 1921)?

She is best known as the founder of the Mothers' Union.

If you were to go to her grave at Winchester Cathedral, England on 9 August you might find flowers placed there that day by Mothers' Union members. That is because this is the day when she is commemorated in the Church of England calendar, although she actually died on the 11th not the 9th August 1921.

Born Mary Elizabeth Heywood in 1828 in Manchester, she married George Sumner in 1848. He was a Church of England clergyman. For many years she supported her husband's work in the parish of Old Alresford near Winchester, Hampshire, England.


Mary Sumner saw the need for a supportive group of mothers.She wanted to bring together women who could support and learn from one another about how to be a good example to children and keep prayer central to family life.

In the summer of 1876 she convened the first group meeting in the Rectory of Old Alresford, inviting 40 local women from all social cla…