St Maximilian Kolbe Centre in Harmęże
The St Maximilian Kolbe Centre in Harmęże is situated near Oświęcim, in the shadow of the former Nazi death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. It was in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp that the martyr saint gave up his life for another inmate.
St Maximilian Kolbe Centre in Harmęże consists of the Parish Church of the Immaculate Virgin Mary with the Franciscan Monastery and the Convent of the Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata. It is used primarily as a place of prayer, reflection and spiritual renewal during the days of retreat. It is also a place that commemorates the martyrdom of St Maximilian. The history of the Franciscan monastery in Harmęże began in 1986, with the other buildings, including the church and the pilgrims’ centre, erected in the following years. The Centre is the location where important ceremonies related to the life of St Maximilian are held: on the 8th of January – the anniversary of the Saint’s birth, on the 28th of May – the anniversary of St Maximilian’s arrival at Auschwitz Death Camp, on the 14th of August – the anniversary of his death, and on the second Sunday in October, the anniversary of his canonisation. Other important local festivals include the Feast of St Francis, the founder of the Order (on the 4th of October), and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the 8th of December.