In 1930, Franciscan Father Maksymilian Maria Kolbe left Poland for Japan, China and India where he organised monasteries. When in Japan, Father Kolbe got acquainted with a network of small broadcasting radio stations. To supplement a large number of religious periodicals that he was publishing in Poland and abroad at that time, he decided to start a radio station as a new medium. In 1930, he applied for a radio broadcasting licence in Poland. However, only the Polish Radio Warsaw (1925) and a military radio station held exclusive radio licences at that time. Radio receivers were allowed to be owned by permission early in 1924.
In 1936, Father Maksymilian Maria Kolbe was called back from Japan to Poland to manage Niepokalanów, the then largest Catholic Monastery in the world. Father Maksymilian spoke on the national Polish Radio twice: on 08.12.1937 and 02.02.1938. After his first sermon, Father Maksymilian sent Brother Manswet Marczewski to a radio course organised by the Warsaw Amateur Radio Club. Owing to constant pressure exerted on the government and military authorities, a radio licence for test broadcasting was issued on 28.10.1938. Immediately, the works commenced on the radio facilities (a building and an antenna) in Niepokalanów, and a transmitter was built by the "Walter" Company in Warsaw and upgraded in Niepokalanów.
Early in December 1938, a test broadcast was heard from the station whose call-sign was spelt Stacja Polska 3 Radio Niepokalanów (SP3RN). Obviously, an amateur licence had been issued, although it remains unknown to whom exactly. Father Maksymilian made the first announcement speech on his radio. The next transmission was broadcast on Sunday 11.12.1938. However, a full broadcasting licence was not issued before the outbreak of World War II.
Father Maksymilian Maria Kolbe (SP3RN), German Nazi Auschwitz Concentration Camp Inmate No. 16670, was murdered in Auschwitz after he had volunteered, on 29.07.1941, his life replacing another inmate selected for death, Franciszek Gajowniczek, and taken for death in a starvation bunker. It was a sole act of sacrifice of that kind recorded in Auschwitz. Died on 14.08.1941, murdered by a lethal injection of phenol. His corpse was burned in a crematorium the day after. Mr. Gajowniczek died in Poland in 1995, aged 94.
Beatified by Pope Paul VI on 17.10.1971.
Canonised as St. Maksymilian Apostle of Consecration to Mary and declared Martyr of Charity by Pope John Paul II on 10.10.1982. Considered a patron of journalists, families, prisoners, the pro-life movement and the chemically addicted.
Patron Saint of Amateur Radio Operators.
© Henryk Zwolski SP9JPA
Based on an article by © Mariusz Pieśniewski, with kind permission from the Author
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