In July 1941, three prisoners escaped from Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi concentration camp. As retribution and to discourage future escape attempts, the Nazis sentenced ten random men to be starved to death. One man reacted by crying out with concern for his wife and children.
There was another prisoner, Father Maximillian Kolbe, who had used his friary to shelter many of his fellow Poles – including over two thousand Jews. Father Kolbe volunteered to take the man’s place.
While they awaited death, he prayed with and encouraged his fellow prisoners. After two weeks, only Father Kolbe remained alive.
The Nazis got tired of waiting, so on August 14, 1941, they injected carbolic acid into Father Kolbe’s arm, killing him.
In 1982, he was canonized – recognized as a saint – by Pope John Paul II and August 14 was designated as his feast day. The man whose place he had taken had survived and was present at the ceremony.
St. Maximillian Kolbe is the patron saint of drug addicts (because of the fatal injection), families, the imprisoned – especially political prisoners, and groups promoting the sanctity of life.
He is also the patron saint of Amateur Radio, having been a licensed ham – SP3RN.
As a tribute, he and his call sign are listed along with current licensed hams, with the following comment; “Reported to be a silent key.”
When a ham radio operator is done transmitting, he sends the Morse Code that combines the letters S and K. This is also used to refer to a ham who has died and is permanently silent.
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