Religion: Pilgrim in Poland

Some came on foot from the surrounding villages, carrying crosses and banners emblazoned with the names of their parishes. Others arrived in packed buses and trains. At least 150,000 strong, they pushed shoulder to shoulder past the rusty barbed-wire fences into the Auschwitz Birkenau extermination camp, where 4,000,000 died during the Nazi hell. The pilgrims had come to honor one of those dead, a Franciscan friar named Maximilian Kolbe who had stepped forward one day in 1941 to take the place of a family man selected for execution.

Kolbe was put in a starvation cell with nine others, then finally dispatched on...

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