Area residents will have two opportunities to learn about St. Maximilian Kolbe next month when Saint Luke Productions brings a multimedia production to Bristol and New Britain.
Saint Luke Productions, a nonprofit multimedia production company based in Washington, will be staging “Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz” at St. Paul Catholic High School and Central Connecticut State University in March.
Kolbe, a friar at the time of World War II, was captured by Nazi officers in 1941 and sent to Auschwitz. While at the concentration camp, Kolbe sacrificed his life for someone else who had been condemned to death.
“Some people escaped from the prison camp, so because of that, they picked out every tenth person to be put to death as punishment. One guy was chosen - he had a wife and a couple of children – so Father Maximilian Kolbe said ‘I’ll take his place’ and gave himself up,” Msgr. Daniel J. Plocharczyk told The Herald in January. “He just wouldn’t die. They put him in a cell, tried starving him.”
While Kolbe did eventually die at Auschwitz, he was made a saint 41 years after that heroic act by St. John Paul II.
Leonardo Defilippis stars in the production, playing both Kolbe and a German soldier. The performance includes a musical score as well as projected images and newsreel footage from Nazi Germany.
“Saint Maximilian Kolbe has a powerful, yet cautionary, message for all of us - not to take the freedoms we cherish for granted, but rather to defend them with our lives,” Defilippis said.
According to the Saint Luke Productions website, the production debuted in 1993 and has been seen in many venues in countries across the world, including the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels and Martyrs in Rome.
Kolbe is an important figure to religious Poles. During Sacred Heart Church’s upcoming pilgrimage in May, the group will visit Kolbe’s cell at Auschwitz. Plocharczyk explained that visiting historical and meaningful sites like Kolbe’s cell is a powerful moment for many people.
“These are things that you can’t just talk about … you just have this reverential silence and respect for everything going on at these historic places.” Plocharczyk said.
The presentation at St. Paul Catholic High School will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7. The school is at 1001 Stafford Ave., Bristol.
CCSU’s presentation will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, in Torp Theatre, in Davidson Hall, 1615 Stanley St., New Britain.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.