St. Maximilian Kolbe is best known for his example of self-sacrifice in Auschwitz, where he convinced the Nazi soldiers to kill him instead of another prisoner who had a family. Yet, in addition to his remarkable humility and dedication to God and the Virgin Mary, he also had a fascination with technology and space travel.
One of his classmates from seminary would later explain how Kolbe was fascinated with the Wright Brothers and the aerodynamics of flying. He was often seen by his fellow seminarians sketching drawings of theoretical spacecraft.
In the biography A Man for Others: Maximilian Kolbe, Bronislaus Strycznys said, “Already, he anticipated the possibility of reaching the moon with a rocket and he thought of many other unusual inventions.”
While it might seem like Kolbe’s fascination with space travel was reserved to simple doodles in his notebook, they were in fact backed-up by scientific specifications!
He went so far as to submit his idea to a scientific journal in 1918. He was only 24 years old at the time, but had a creative mind, matched with a remarkable intellect. One of his professors even suggested that he should file a patent for his spaceship.
His specifications, as well as his original drawings, can be found in the book, The Writings of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, Volume II.
Aleteia does not have permission from the publisher to share his sketches online, but the closest thing to it is, oddly enough, the Apollo spacecraft. When looking at his sketches and the Apollo spacecraft, he did a pretty good job anticipating what an actual spaceship would look like … 51 years before Apollo 1!
The sketch can be viewed at the website Catholic Creatives, which also points out that St. Maximilian Kolbe’s love of technology also extended to the radio waves. In 2021, Aleteia explained that his station, Radio Niepokalanow, became the first Catholic radio station in Poland in 1938. The Polish priest even had plans to evangelize through television and film, but unfortunately, these plans were dashed when Germany invaded Poland and World War II began.