CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has marked the 70th anniversary of the death of a Polish Franciscan friar hailed as a martyr for volunteering to die in the place of another man at Auschwitz.
Benedict said Maximilian Kolbe's heroic act set an example "amid the human drama of hatred, suffering and death." The pope was greeting Polish pilgrims after his Angelus prayer delivered Sunday from his summer residence near Rome.
The German-born Benedict, who was forced to join the Hitler Youth, visited the Auschwitz concentration camp during a trip to Poland in 2006.
Kolbe was sent to Auschwitz in 1941 after Nazi officials discovered he had been hiding Jews. He was canonized by Polish-born Pope John Paul II in 1982.