The Immaculate Conception & The Co-Redemptrix




On February 17, 1941, the “Property” of the Immaculata, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, was arrested by the Nazi Gestapo, eventually leading to his martyrdom in Auschwitz. During the few hours before his arrest, Fr. Maximilian was inspired to write the heart of his unparalleled mariological ponderings regarding the “Immaculate Conception.”

The following are excerpts from this last written testimony:

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: These words fell from the lips of the Immaculata herself. Hence, they must tell us in the most precise and essential manner who she really is.

Since human words are incapable of expressing divine realities, it follows that these words: “Immaculate,” and “Conception” must be understood in a much more beautiful and sublime meaning than usual: a meaning beyond that which human reason at its most penetrating, commonly gives to them . . . Who then are you, O Immaculate Conception?

Not God, of course, because he has no beginning. Not an angel, created directly out of nothing. Not Adam, formed out of the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7). Not Eve, molded from Adam’s rib (Gen. 2:21). Not the Incarnate Word, who exists before all ages, and of whom we should use the word “conceived” rather than “conception.” Humans do not exist before their conception, so we might call them created “conception.” But you, O Mary, are different from all other children of Eve. They are conceptions stained by original sin; whereas you are the unique Immaculate Conception.

. . . Creatures, by following the natural law implanted in them by God, reach their perfection, become like him, and go back to him. Intelligent creatures love him in a conscious manner; through this love they unite themselves more and more closely with him, and so find their way back to him. The creature most completely filled with this love, with God himself, was the Immaculata, who never contracted the slightest stain of sin, who never departed in the least from God’s will. United to the Holy Spirit as his spouse, she is one with God in an incomparably more perfect way than can be predicated of any other creature.

What sort of union is this? It is above all an interior union, a union of her essence with the “essence” of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in her, lives in her. This was true from the first instance of her existence. It is always true; it will always be true.

In what does this life of the Spirit in Mary consist? He himself is uncreated Love in her; the Love of the Father and of the Son, the Love by which God loves himself, the very love of the Most Holy Trinity. He is a fruitful Love, a “Conception.” Among creatures made in God’s image the union brought about by married love is the most intimate of all (cf. Mt. 19:6). In a much more precise, more interior, more essential manner, the Holy Spirit lives in the soul of the Immaculata, in the depths of her very being. He makes her fruitful, from the very instance of her existence, all during her life, and for all eternity.

This eternal “Immaculate Conception” (which is the Holy Spirit) produces in an immaculate manner divine life itself in the womb (or depths) of Mary’s soul, making her the Immaculate Conception, the human Immaculate Conception. And the virginal womb of Mary’s body is kept sacred for him; there he conceives in time—because everything that is material occurs in time—the human life of the Man-God. (1)

In a 1933 Letter from Nagasaki, St. Maximilian explains further that in the name, “Immaculate Conception,” the Mother also gives us the secret of her very nature:

In her apparition at Lourdes she does not say: “I was conceived immaculately,” but “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This points out not only the fact that she was conceived without original sin, but also the manner in which this privilege belongs to her. It is not something accidental; it is something that belongs to her very nature. For she is Immaculate Conception in (her very) person. (2)

The uncreated Immaculate Conception and the created Immaculate Conception. The Divine Spirit and the human spouse perfected in His grace are united by an interior, essential union. Uncreated love conceives and dwells within the depths of her soul, and she becomes His quasi-incarnation. (3) For this reason, as St. Maximilian tells us, Mary is also the Mediatrix of all graces and gifts of the Spirit:

The union between the Immaculata and the Holy Spirit is so inexpressible, yet so perfect, that the Holy Spirit acts only by the Most Blessed Virgin, his Spouse. This is why she is Mediatrix of all grace given by the Holy Spirit. And since every grace is a gift of God the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit, it follows that there is no grace which Mary cannot dispose of as her own, which is not given to her for this purpose. (4)

Does St. Maximilian go too far in speaking in this manner of the wonders of the Immaculate Conception? Or does he say too little? The Mariology disclosed by the saint of the Immaculata, generous and profound as it is, in no way exhausts the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. His unrivaled pneumatological discoveries prepare the way for a new comprehension of the inseparability of the Uncreated Immaculate Conception