Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Saint Thomas More, English Martyr, defending a great Catholic figure, film, DVD, Wolf's Hall, Henry VIII, Tudor England, Mary's Dowry Productions

Saint Thomas More, renowned for his writings throughout Christendom
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Thomas More' DVD

Saint Thomas More's love of God and those around him was reflected in every moment of his life. He was a learned man who radiated joy and a deep desire to see all come to the happiness of Heaven, knowing how quickly a person's life passes in this world. Known throughout Christendom as a kind and educated man, a man of prayer and charity, Saint Thomas More was able to share the faith with everyone he met in Tudor England and abroad. He has left us an inspiring journey to reflect upon as we travel the same path through life in England today.
Saint Thomas More with Cardinal Wolsey
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Thomas More' DVD
In 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions filmed various key moments from the lives of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher. These portrayals run silently beneath a narrative with original contemplative and uplifting music, offering a prayerful way to look through a window into the lives of these Saints and journey with them. While filled with historical information, facts and events in the context of English history, these films seek to offer a spiritual encounter with Saint Thomas More or Saint John Fisher.
We filmed scenes from various events in the life of Saint Thomas More over two days, with additional filming on various external locations for scenery and nature.
Saint Thomas More's daughter, Margaret Roper, tries to speak with
her father as he is led from Westminster back to the Tower of London
after his trial.
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Thomas More' DVD
Scenes recreated included moments with his family in Chelsea, his writings, time at court, imprisonment in the Tower of London and his last moments on Tower Hill.
The story is told from Saint Thomas More's point of view and runs for one hour. The original music was composed with Bernadette and fuses medieval and contemporary styles into a contemplative, absorbing atmosphere that accompanies Saint Thomas More.
Saint Thomas More with his family in Chelsea
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Thomas More' DVD
In 2007 Mary’s Dowry productions created a new form of film media to present the lives of the saints. Mary’s Dowry Productions recreates stunning silent visuals, informative, devotional narration, and original contemplative music that touches your spirit to draw you into a spiritual encounter with the saint. Watch with your spiritual eye, listen with your spiritual ear. Our films seek to offer a window into the lives of our saints. Using your spiritual senses we invite you to shut out the world, sit prayerfully and peacefully and go on a journey of faith, history and prayer with this inspiring Tudor Saint.

Our film is available worldwide through our online shop:
We ship worldwide in all region formats
The following is an article from the Guardian Online -  showing the fruits of 500 years of protestant thought and a secular presentation of Catholic figures in history, especially in secular entertainment:
"No matter how controversial the standing of a great statesman, the passing of almost 500 years since his death might be expected to settle opinion one way or the other. Yet the power of a popular historical account, most recently Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker prize-winner Wolf Hall shows that reputations are rarely safe.
Hilary Mantel’s 2009 story of political intrigue in the court of Henry VIII, has already persuaded hundreds of thousands of readers that Thomas Cromwell, played by Mark Rylance, was an admirably modern man and not simply a grim political fixer for a self-indulgent king. But the actor Anton Lesser appears in the role of Sir Thomas More in the BBC2 series, taking up arms in a second long-running battle for the public image of a famous man. And unlike Cromwell, Thomas More was not only a key political figure in England’s history: for many he remains a revered saint.
Saint Thomas More's concern for souls included that of
his friend and King, Henry VIII.
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Thomas More' DVD

Thomas More (1478-1535), lawyer and moral philosopher, is still regarded by many Catholics as the quintessential good man. He has been held up to schoolchildren for centuries as the most significant English defender of the true Catholic faith. Hilary Mantel’s portrait, however, is of a torturer of heretics with a penchant for self-punishment and a misogynist to boot. The Catholic writer Peter Stanford suspects that many Catholics, lapsed or otherwise, will be dismayed when Mantel’s well-researched yet passionately argued slant on the merits of Cromwell versus More reaches a wider TV audience. “As a child I was told that More was a very clever man who defended the pope against a parvenu king and who would not let him fiddle around with the eternal truths so that he could have his way with another woman,” he said. “He is still revered, often alongside John Fisher, the bishop and martyr, who was beheaded by Henry VIII in the same year as More. He is important as a defender of the faith, even though we are not persecuted any more in this country. Wolf Hall is going to be hard for some people to watch because there are lots of churches named after More and several of the old recusant stately homes have relics. They frequently have part of Mary Queen of Scots’ rosary, a bit of the stick that John Fisher used to stagger up to the gallows on and something claimed to have been written by More.”
Saint Thomas More calmly ties the blindfold over his eyes
as he kneels before the block on Tower Hill, July 1535
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Thomas More' DVD
Hilary Mantel, who received a Catholic education at a convent school, uproots More and places Cromwell, the king’s chief adviser, much closer to the moral core of her story – although he is rendered as complex and enigmatic. More, in contrast, cuts a dry and uncompromising figure. “Mantel may portray Thomas More as a callous religious obsessive, but for us growing up he was the exact opposite,” said Stanford. The biographer of Lord Longford adds that a religious education is such a powerful tool that many with a Catholic background will, like him, never have questioned More’s saintly status.

Saint Thomas More and Erasmus, two great thinkers of the 16th Century
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Thomas More' DVD

“Once someone has been elevated to the canon of saints, that is it really. They are beyond question for many Catholics. It tends to stop the conversation,” he said. More’s moral quality was underlined for a modern public in 1966 with the release of the hit film version of Robert Bolt’s play A Man for All Seasons. This gave cinemagoers of all faiths, and of none, a reason to look up to More as a bastion of wider humanist values. With its tight and witty screenplay, drawing convincingly on the original words of More, the film established Henry VIII’s disobedient lord chancellor as brave and full of integrity. A man who, out of a sense of personal honour as much as religious conviction, was prepared to stand in opposition to the king’s plan to go against the tenets of Rome to divorce and marry for a second time. It did no harm to More’s historical profile that he was played on screen by the late Paul Scofield in a softly spoken performance that has gone down as one of his finest. Crossing swords with a villainous Cromwell in one scene, More’s is the voice of stylish, unpretentious reason.

More: “You threaten like a dockside bully.
Cromwell: “How should I threaten?”
More: “Like a minister of state. With justice.”
Cromwell: “Oh, justice is what you’re threatened with.”
More: “Then I am not threatened.”
The other piece of influential writing that has helped emphasise More’s superior character is his own book, Utopia. A philosophical argument couched in the tale of a traveller who returns from an unknown land, it has furnished English literature with many enduring ideas – not least that of a Utopia itself; a perfect, unattainable society. Published in Latin in 1516, Utopia still intrigues and amuses readers despite having been around for half a millennium. In More’s imagined Utopia, property, goods and food are all shared among the households in each city and there is a heavy emphasis on agriculture, although some weight is given to academic learning as well. When it comes to government: “Anyone who campaigns for public office becomes disqualified for holding any office at all,” he suggests. Religious tolerance is advocated, as is legal divorce, euthanasia and the adorning of male and female married priests. On the other hand, and less palatable to current taste, atheists are regarded as despicable, and most households keep slaves drawn from a ready supply of foreigners and criminals. The book, though widely studied, has always puzzled readers because many of the notions it toys with appear to run directly against More’s own Catholic convictions, not least about divorce. It also seems odd that the role of lawyers in Utopia should be held up for contempt by the man who was at one point, as lord chancellor, the leading legal authority in the land.

Saint Thomas More reads his epithalamium to King Henry VIII
and Queen Catherine of Aragon on the occasion on their wedding
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Thomas More' DVD

For Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of church history at Oxford University and a great fan of Cromwell over More, there is no denying the appeal of More’s mind. “I have seen some of the new series and More comes across as a desiccated fanatic. Well, that would be one take. It is true he has always been a controversial character partly because he became such a plaster saint, seen as unassailable in the Catholic church,” said MacCulloch. “But like Cromwell he was a complicated humanist, as well as a great stylist and the author of the wonderful Utopia. For More, I think, the whole of the late 1520s became resolved into a life and death struggle for his world. We all have our priorities and for him a united Christendom overrode his concern with mercy or with pity.”
MacCulloch admits he takes much of his understanding of the relationship between More and Cromwell from the late eminent Tudor scholar Sir Geoffrey Elton, once his doctoral supervisor at Cambridge. Elton, who wrote about Cromwell had a low opinion of More. “Elton was a little partisan perhaps, but I do find Hilary’s version compelling.” The professor, who is working on his own biography of Cromwell, is happy for popular historical fiction to engage with Tudor history. “It is not a battle between fiction and history. It is a conversation. I regard Hilary as an ally, not a threat. She has created a powerful parallel universe and historians and novelists each bring their own perspective.”
Saint Thomas More in the Tower of London
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Thomas More' DVD
The screen image of More as played by Scofield has “ruled the roost for 30 or 40 years now,” MacCulloch adds, and it is time for a different view. “The problem is that anyone looks quite good when they are compared with the monstrous Henry VIII, and More did show great nobility in squaring up to him. There was also a lot of fancy footwork though, which does distract you from the fact that, in the end, More died for something he believed in.”
More, first called “a man for all seasons” by his contemporary Robert Whittington, always had a good argument to hand, and would probably have pointed out that men who are prepared to put their head on the block for an idea are not likely to be self-interested. As More once said: “If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable.” Today, however, proofs of strong conviction and acts of religious martyrdom are no longer recognised as a fair way to win.
Saint Thomas More calmly offers his life for the Catholic Faith
which had been the Faith of England for over a thousand years
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Thomas More' DVD
Our own film about Saint Thomas More is a prayerful journey with a holy man, Saint and great historical figure that offers a spiritual encounter with the Man for all Seasons, certainly relevant for our own troubled days in England.

For films on the lives of the Saints and Martyrs:

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A film about Saint Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Carmelite, Philosopher, Mary's Dowry Productions, DVD

A new film about Saint Edith SteinA prayerful and mystical journey with Saint Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) in a new film that especially captures the thought and spirit of her Carmelite soul.  Pausing for reflection upon her writings, including her letter to Pope Pius XI and her many works, Saint Edith Stein shows how she brought hope and comfort to the people and children around her during the troubled times of the Nazi occupation.  With an original atmospheric, choral and contemplative music score "St. Edith Stein" offers a prayerful journey into her life.

Saint Edith Stein conversing with a Nazi Guard
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Edith Stein'

In 2007 Mary’s Dowry productions created a new form of film media to present the lives of the saints. Mary’s Dowry Productions recreates stunning silent visuals, informative, devotional narration, and original contemplative music that touches your spirit to draw you into a spiritual encounter with the saint. Watch with your spiritual eye, listen with your spiritual ear. Our films seek to offer a window into the lives of our saints. Using your spiritual senses we invite you to shut out the world, sit prayerfully and peacefully and go on a journey of faith, history and prayer with this inspiring Carmelite Saint.

Length and Format:

Saint Edith Stein runs for 40 minutes and is available worldwide on Region Free DVD:

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Saint Francis of Assisi and the Christmas Nativity Scene

Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 (a "living" one) intending to cultivate the worship of Christ, having been inspired by his recent visit to the Holy Land where he had been shown Jesus's traditional birthplace. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 at Greccio, Italy, in an attempt to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than upon secular materialism and gift giving. The nativity scene created by St. Francis is described by St Bonaventure in his Life of Saint Francis of Assisi written around 1260. Staged in a cave near Greccio, St. Francis' nativity scene was a living one with humans and animals cast in the Biblical roles. Pope Honorius III gave his blessing to the exhibit. Such pantomimes became hugely popular and spread throughout Christendom. Within a hundred years every church in Italy was expected to have a nativity scene at Christmastime. Eventually, statues replaced human and animal participants, and static scenes grew to elaborate affairs with richly robed figurines placed in intricate landscape settings. Charles III, King of the Two Sicilies, collected such elaborate scenes, and his enthusiasm encouraged others to do the same.

Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian: San Francesco d'Assisi); born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco; 1181/1182 – 3 October 1226) was an Italian Roman Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. Saint Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. Pope Gregory IX canonised Francis on 16 July 1228. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena, he was designated Patron saint of Italy. He later became associated with patronage of animals and natural environment, which became customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of October 4.

Francis is also known for his love of the Eucharist, while also bearing the wounds of stigmata, the apparition of Seraphic angels during his religious ecstasy and for the creation of the live Christmas Nativity Scene.
Our DVD gives you a glimpse into the mystical aspect of Saint Francis of Assisi's life.  As a young man he had a life changing encounter with Jesus that set him upon a path of wondrous spiritual insights.  He was so united to the Crucified One that he is called the Seraphic saint. 

In 2007 Mary’s Dowry productions created a new form of film media to present the lives of the saints. Mary’s Dowry Productions recreates stunning silent visuals, informative, devotional narration, and original contemplative music that touches your spirit to draw you into a spiritual encounter with the saint. Watch with your spiritual eye, listen with your spiritual ear. Our films seek to offer a window into the lives of our saints. Using your spiritual senses we invite you to shut out the world, sit prayerfully and peacefully and go on a journey of faith, history and prayer with this Holy Saint and Founder.Length and Format:

The film runs for 45 minutes and is available on Region Free DVD worldwide.
Available worldwide, all region formats:

A prayerful journey with Saint Francis of Assisi
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Francis of Assisi' DVD

Saturday, 21 November 2015

How to view Mary's Dowry Productions

In 2008 we created a new form of media in which to present the lives of the Saints using creative art, music and visual representation combined into a spiritual sensory encounter on 'film'.
The films of Mary's Dowry Productions are not like the standard, secular presentation of film. Our films offer a way in which the spiritual senses look as though through a window into the life of a Saint. We do not use 'actors', dialogue or the expected film style. We use music, creative visuals and narrative for the viewer to watch with their spiritual eye and listen with their spiritual ear in an environment of peace and prayerfulness.
Many people who have encountered this new way of watching and listening have various reactions.
Certainly a lot of people are not used to absorbing film using their spiritual senses.
Some are confused since they are used to watching secular media.
Others are absorbed and have a moving encounter with the Saint whom we present.
Mary's Dowry Productions is an apostolate that creates a window for the spiritual senses to peer silently through and see and hear a unique presentation of a Saint.
It is a new form of media that was especially created to bring truth, history and faith through the windows of the spiritual senses.
Our films should be watched in an atmosphere of prayer without secular distractions in order to fully appreciate the message we intend to present.
Roger Line, husband of Saint Anne Line, absorbs himself in
prayer while in prison for his Catholic Faith
© 2010 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Anne Line' DVD
Mary's Dowry Productions works with parishioners, friends and family to recreate silent visuals that combine with beautiful sacred art, scenery, contemplative music and specific narrative to bring a host of the lives of the Saints and Catechetical resources to DVD.
These films are available worldwide through our online shop:
All monies from the sales of DVDs goes into Mary's Dowry Productions to produce more films.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, new film on DVD, available now through Mary's Dowry Productions, NEWS

Our new film about Saint Maximilian Kolbe is now available worldwide on DVD in all region formats through Mary's Dowry Productions.
The film runs for 30 minutes and is a prayerful, informative and inspiring way to encounter Saint Maximilian Kolbe.

In 2007 Mary’s Dowry productions created a new form of film media to present the lives of the saints. Mary’s Dowry Productions recreates stunning silent visuals, informative, devotional narration, and original contemplative music that touches your spirit to draw you into a spiritual encounter with the saint. Watch with your spiritual eye, listen with your spiritual ear. Our films seek to offer a window into the lives of our saints. Using your spiritual senses we invite you to shut out the world, sit prayerfully and peacefully and go on a journey of faith, history and prayer with this young and inspiring Saint.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe shows us that love of Mary is very important
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
Saint Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan priest who loved God and the Blessed Virgin Mary so much that he wished to share that love with everyone. He radiated such joy and peace even during the troubled time of Nazi occupied Poland. Saint Maximilian has left us an inspiring example with his beautiful life of prayer, advice and kindness.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe loved people so much he did not hesitate to
try to alleviate their pain
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
Our DVD about Saint Maximilian Kolbe is available worldwide, all region formats
Mary's Dowry Productions online shop:

About Saint Maximilian Kolbe:

His name wasn't always Maximilian. He was born the second son of a poor weaver on 8 January 1894 at Zdunska Wola near Lodz in Poland, and was given the baptismal name of Raymond. Both parents were devout Christians with a particular devotion to Mary. In his infancy Raymond seems to have been normally mischievous but we are told that one day, after his mother had scolded him for some mischief or other, her words took effect and brought about a radical change in the child's behaviour. Later he explained this change. 'That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.'
The Nazis persecuted the Jews and Catholics in Poland.
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
Thus early did the child believe and accept that he was destined for martyrdom. His belief in his dream coloured all his future actions.
In 1907 Raymond and his elder brother entered a junior Franciscan seminary in Lwow. Here he excelled in mathematics and physics and his teachers predicted a brilliant future for him in science. Others, seeing his passionate interest in all things military, saw in him a future strategist. For a time indeed his interest in military affairs together with his fiery patriotism made him lose interest in the idea of becoming a priest, The fulfilment of his dream would lie in saving Poland from her oppressors as a soldier. But before he could tell anyone about his decision his mother announced that, as all their children were now in seminaries, she and her husband intended to enter religious life. Raymond hadn't the heart to upset his parents' plans and so he abandoned his plans for joining the army. He was received as a novice in September 1910 and with the habit he took the new name of Maximilian. From 1912 to 1915 he was in Rome studying philosophy at the Gregorian College, and from 1915 to 1919 theology at the Collegio Serafico.
Nazi soldier
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
Saint Maximilian Kolbe was ordained in Rome on 28 April 1918.
The love of fighting didn't leave him, but while he was in Rome he stopped seeing the struggle as a military one. He didn't like what he saw of the world, in fact he saw it as downright evil. The fight, he decided, was a spiritual one. The world was bigger than Poland and there were worse slaveries than earthly ones. The fight was still on, but he would not be waging it with the sword. At that time many Catholics in Europe regarded freemasonry as their chief enemy; and it was against the freemasons that Maximilian Kolbe began to wage war. On 16 October 1917, with six companions, he founded the Crusade of Mary Immaculate (), with the aim of 'converting sinners, heretics and schismatics, particularly freemasons, and bringing all men to love Mary Immaculate'.
As he entered what was to be the most creative period of his life, Fr Maximilian's health had already begun to deteriorate. He was by now in an advanced state of tuberculosis, and he felt himself overshadowed by death. His love for Mary Immaculate now became the devouring characteristic of his life. He regarded himself as no more than an instrument of her will, and the only time he was known to lose his temper was in defence of her honour. It was for her that he strove to develop all the good that was in him, and he wanted to encourage others to do the same.
Saint Maximilian forgot himself in service of others
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
When Maximilian returned to Poland in 1919 he rejoiced to see his country free once again, a liberation which he typically attributed to Mary Immaculate. Pius XI in response to a request from the Polish bishops had just promulgated the Feast of Our Lady Queen of Poland, and Fr Maximilian wrote: 'She must be the Queen of Poland and of every Polish heart. We must labour to win each and every heart for her.' He set himself to extend the influence of his Crusade, and formed cells and circles all over Poland. The doctors had by now pronounced him incurable; one lung had collapsed and the other was damaged. Yet it was now that he flung himself into a whirlwind of activity. In January 1922 he began to publish a monthly review, the , in Cracow. Its aim was 'to illuminate the truth and show the true way to happiness'. As funds were low, only 5,000 copies of the first issue were printed. In 1922 he removed to another friary in Grodno and acquired a small printing establishment; and from now on the review began to grow. In 1927 70,000 copies were being printed. The Grodno Friary became too small to house such a mammoth operation, so Fr Maximilian began to look for a site nearer to Warsaw. Prince Jan Drucko-Lubecki offered him some land at Teresin, west of Warsaw, Fr Maximilian promptly erected a statue of Mary Immaculate there, and the monks began the arduous work of construction.
On 21 November 1927 the Franciscans moved from Grodno to Teresin and on 8 December the friary was consecrated and was given the name of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate. 'Niepokalanow', said Fr Maximilian, 'is a place chosen by Mary Immaculate and is exclusively dedicated to spreading her cult. All that is and will be at Niepokalanow will belong to her. The monastic spirit will flourish here; we shall practise obedience and we shall be poor, in the spirit of St Francis.'
Before the Nazis, Saint Maximilian shoed peace and love even to those
who bore hatred
© Mary's Dowry Productions 2015
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
At first Niepokalanow consisted of no more than a few shacks with tar-paper roofs, but it soon flourished. To cope with the flood of vocations all over Poland, a junior seminary was built at Niepokalanow 'to prepare priests for the missions capable of every task in the name of the Immaculate and with her help'. A few years later there were more than a hundred seminarians and the numbers were still growing. Before long Niepokalanow had become one of the largest (some say largest) friaries in the world. In 1939 it housed 762 inhabitants: 13 priests, 18 novices, 527 brothers, 122 boys in the junior seminary and 82 candidates for the priesthood. No matter how many labourers were in the vineyard there was always work for more. Among the inhabitants of Niepokalanow there were doctors, dentists, farmers, mechanics, tailors, builders, printers, gardeners, shoemakers, cooks. The place was entirely self-supporting.
Not only the friary but the printing house had been expanding. More modern machinery had been installed, including three machines which could produce 16,000 copies of the review in an hour. New techniques of type, photogravure and binding were adopted. The new machinery and techniques made it possible to meet the growing demand for —which had now reached the incredible circulation figure of 750,000 per month—and to produce other publications as well. In 1935 they began to produce a daily Catholic newspaper,< The Little Daily>, of which 137,000 copies were printed on weekdays and 225,000 on Sundays and holydays.
Maximilian did not rest content with mere journalistic activity. His sights were set even further. On 8 December 1938 a radio station was installed at Niepokalanow with the signature tune (played by the brothers' own orchestra) of the Lourdes hymn. And now that there was so much valuable equipment around, Niepokalanow acquired its own fire brigade to protect it against its enemies. Some of the brothers were now trained as firemen.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe's example of peace
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
There was no doubt that Niepokalanow was going from strength to strength, a unique institution within Poland. The results of the work done there were becoming apparent. Priests in parishes all over the country reported a tremendous upsurge of faith, which they attributed to the literature emerging from Niepokalanow. A campaign against abortion in the columns of the< Knight> (1938) seemed to awaken the conscience of the nation: more than a million people of all classes and professions ranged themselves behind the standard of Mary Immaculate. Years later, after the war, the Polish bishops sent an official letter to the Holy See claiming that Fr Kolbe's magazine had prepared the Polish nation to endure and survive the horrors of the war that was soon to follow.
Fr Maximilian was a restless spirit, and his activities could not be confined to Poland. His junior seminary had been started in 1929 but he didn't intend to wait for its first priest to be trained before he himself set out for the mission lands. To those who pointed out that Niepokalanow wasn't yet up to undertaking foreign apostolic work, he quoted the example of St Francis, who had risked himself on the mission fields when the other Orders had remained uninvolved. With the blessing of his Father General, Maximilian prepared his expedition. Asked whether he had money to finance it, he replied: 'Money? It will turn up somehow or other. Mary will see to it. It's her business and her Son's.'
On 26 February 1930 Fr Maximilian left Poland with four brothers from Niepokalanow on a journey to the Far East. They travelled by way of Port Said, Saigon and Shanghai, and on 24 April they landed at Nagasaki in Japan. Here they were given episcopal permission to stay. In fact Archbishop Hayasaka received them very warmly when he learned that Fr Maximilian had two doctorates and would be able to take the vacant chair of philosophy in the diocesan seminary in exchange for a licence to print his review.
The going was hard. The Poles' only shelter was a wretched hut whose walls and roof were caving in. They slept on what straw they could find and their tables were planks of wood. But despite such hardships, and the fact that they knew no word of the Japanese language, and had no money, on 24 April 1930, exactly a month after their arrival, a telegram was despatched to Niepokalanow: 'Today distributing Japanese . Have printing press. Praise to Mary Immaculate.' After that, it was scarcely surprising that a year later the Japanese Niepokalanow was inaugurated, Mugenzai no Sono (the Garden of the Immaculate), built on the slopes of Mount Hikosan. The choice of this site in the suburbs had been dictated by poverty, but it proved a lucky one. People thought Fr Maximilian was crazy to be building on steep ground sloping away from the town; but in 1945, when the atomic bomb all but levelled Nagasaki, Mugenzai no Sono sustained no more damage than a few broken panes of stained glass. Today it forms the centre of a Franciscan province.
Despite his passionate zeal in the cause of Mary, Fr Maximilian proved to be a wise missionary. He did not attempt to impose Western ideas on the Japanese. He respected their national customs and looked for what was good in Buddhism and Shintoism. He entered into dialogue with Buddhist priests and some of them became his friends. In 1931 he founded a noviciate and in 1936 a junior seminary. And of course he continued to publish his beloved magazine. , the Japanese , had a circulation six times that of its nearest Japanese Catholic rival. This was because it was aimed at the whole community, not just Catholics. The first 10,000 copies had swollen to 65,000 by 1936.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe - man of prayer
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
Father Maximilian's health was rapidly deteriorating, but he didn't allow this fact to diminish his zeal or his restless energy. Although he often complained of the lack of manpower and machines needed to serve the people of Japan, in 1932 he was already seeking fresh pastures. On 31 May he left Japan and sailed to Malabar where, after a few initial difficulties, he founded a third Niepokalanow. But his superiors requested him to return to Japan, and as no priests could be spared for Malabar that idea had to be given up. On another of his journeys he travelled through Siberia and spent some time in Moscow. Even here he dreamed of publishing his magazine-in Russian. He had studied the language and had a fair acquaintance with Marxist literature. Like Pope John XXIII he looked for the good elements even in systems which he believed to be evil; and he tried to teach his friars to do likewise.
In 1936 he was recalled to Poland, and left Japan for the last time. He had thought that he would find martyrdom there; and indeed he had found martyrdom of a kind. He was racked by violent headaches and covered with abscesses brought on by the food to which he could not grow accustomed. But these things were only pinpricks: the real martyrdom awaited him elsewhere.
Just before the Second World War broke out Fr Maximilian spoke to his friars about suffering. They must not be afraid, he said, for suffering accepted with love would bring them closer to Mary. All his life he had dreamed of a martyr's crown, and the time was nearly at hand.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe - Martyr of Charity
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
By 13 September 1939 Niepokalanow had been occupied by the invading Germans and most of its inhabitants had been deported to Germany. Among them was Fr Maximilian. But that exile did not last long and on 8 December the prisoners were set free. From the moment that he returned to Niepokalanow Fr Maximilian was galvanized into a new kind of activity. He began to organize a shelter for 3,000 Polish refugees, among whom were 2,000 Jews. 'We must do everything in our power to help these unfortunate people who have been driven from their homes and deprived of even the most basic necessities. Our mission is among them in the days that lie ahead.' The friars shared everything they had with the refugees. They housed, fed and clothed them, and brought all their machinery into use in their service.
Inevitably the community came under suspicion and was closely watched. Early in 1941, in the only edition of which he was allowed to publish, Fr Maximilian set pen to paper and thus provoked his own arrest. 'No one in the world can change Truth', he wrote. 'What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is an inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?'
He would never know that kind of defeat; but a more obvious defeat was near. On 17 February 1941 he was arrested and sent to the infamous Pawiak prison in Warsaw. Here he was singled out for special ill-treatment. A witness tells us that in March of that year an S. S. guard, seeing this man in his habit girdled with a rosary, asked if he believed in Christ. When the priest calmly replied 'I do', the guard struck him. The S. S. man repeated his question several times and receiving always the same answer went on beating him mercilessly. Shortly afterwards the Franciscan habit was taken away and a prisoner's garment was substituted.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, always aware of peoples afflictions
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
On 28 May Fr Maximilian was with over 300 others who were deported from Pawiak to Auschwitz. There he received his striped convict's garments and was branded with the number 16670. He was put to work immediately carrying blocks of stone for the construction of a crematorium wall. On the last day of May he was assigned with other priests to the Babice section which was under the direction of 'Bloody' Krott, an ex-criminal. 'These men are lay-abouts and parasites', said the Commandant to Krott, 'get them working.' Krott forced the priests to cut and carry huge tree-trunks. The work went on all day without a stop and had to be done running—with the aid of vicious blows from the guards. Despite his one lung, Father Maximilian accepted the work and the blows with surprising calm. Krott conceived a relentless hatred against the Franciscan and gave him heavier tasks than the others. Sometimes his colleagues would try to come to his aid but he would not expose them to danger. Always he replied, 'Mary gives me strength. All will be well.' At this time he wrote to his mother, 'Do not worry about me or my health, for the good Lord is everywhere and holds every one of us in his great love.'
Kapo 'Bloody' Krott with Saint Maximilian Kolbe
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
One day Krott found some of the heaviest planks he could lay hold of and personally loaded them on the Franciscan's back, ordering him to run. When he collapsed, Krott kicked him in the stomach and face and had his men give him fifty lashes. When the priest lost consciousness Krott threw him in the mud and left him for dead. But his companions managed to smuggle him to the Revier, the camp hospital. Although he was suffering greatly, he secretly heard confessions in the hospital and spoke to the other inmates of the love of God. In Auschwitz, where hunger and hatred reigned and faith evaporated, this man opened his heart to others and spoke of God's infinite love. He seemed never to think of himself. When food was brought in and everyone struggled to get his place in the queue so as to be sure of a share, Fr Maximilian stood aside, so that frequently there was none left for him. At other times he shared his meagre ration of soup or bread with others. He was once asked whether such self-abnegation made sense in a place where every man was engaged in a struggle for survival, and he answered: 'Every man has an aim in life. For most men it is to return home to their wives and families, or to their mothers. For my part, I give my life for the good of all men.'
Men gathered in secret to hear his words of love and encouragement, but it was his example which counted for most. Fr Zygmunt Rusczak remembers: 'Each time I saw Father Kolbe in the courtyard I felt within myself an extraordinary effusion of his goodness. Although he wore the same ragged clothes as the rest of us, with the same tin can hanging from his belt, one forgot this wretched exterior and was conscious only of the charm of his inspired countenance and of his radiant holiness.'
There remained only the last act in the drama. The events are recorded in the sworn testimonials of former inmates of the camp, collected as part of the beatification proceedings. They are as follows:
Tadeusz Joachimowski, clerk of Block 14A: 'In the summer of 1941, most probably on the last day of July, the camp siren announced that there had been an escape. At the evening roll-call of the same day we, i.e. Block 14A, were formed up in the street between the buildings of Blocks 14 and 17. After some delay we were joined by a group of the Landwirtschafts-Kommando. During the count it was found that three prisoners from this Kommando had escaped: one from our Block and the two others from other Blocks. Lagerfuhrer Fritzsch announced that on account of the escape of the three prisoners, ten prisoners would be picked in reprisal from the blocks in which the fugitives had lived and would be assigned to the Bunker (the underground starvation cell).' Jan Jakub Szegidewicz takes up the story from there: 'After the group of doomed men had already been selected, a prisoner stepped out from the ranks of one of the Blocks. I recognized Father Kolbe. Owing to my poor knowledge of German I did not understand what they talked about, nor do I remember whether Fr Kolbe spoke directly to Fritzsch. When making his request, Fr Kolbe stood at attention and pointed at a former non-commissioned officer known to me from the camp. It could be inferred from the expression on Fritzsch's face that he was surprised at Fr Kolbe's action. As the sign was given, Fr Kolbe joined the ranks of the doomed and the non-commissioned officer left the ranks of the doomed and resumed his place in his Block; which meant that Fritzsch had consented to the exchange. A little later the doomed men were marched off in the direction of Block 13, the death Block.'
The non-commissioned officer was Franciszek Gajowniczek. When the sentence of doom had been pronounced, Gajowniczek had cried out in despair, 'O my poor wife, my poor children. I shall never see them again.' It was then that the unexpected had happened, and that from among the ranks of those temporarily reprieved, prisoner 16670 had stepped forward and offered himself in the other man's place. Then the ten condemned men were led off to the dreaded Bunker, to the airless underground cells where men died slowly without food or water.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe offers his arm to his executioner
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
Bruno Borgowiec was an eye-witness of those last terrible days, for he was an assistant to the janitor and an interpreter in the underground Bunkers. He tells us what happened: 'In the cell of the poor wretches there were daily loud prayers, the rosary and singing, in which prisoners from neighbouring cells also joined. When no S. S. men were in the Block I went to the Bunker to talk to the men and comfort them. Fervent prayers and songs to the Holy Mother resounded in all the corridors of the Bunker. I had the impression I was in a church. Fr Kolbe was leading and the prisoners responded in unison. They were often so deep in prayer that they did not even hear that inspecting S. S. men had descended to the Bunker; and the voices fell silent only at the loud yelling of their visitors. When the cells were opened the poor wretches cried loudly and begged for a piece of bread and for water, which they did not receive, however. If any of the stronger ones approached the door he was immediately kicked in the stomach by the S. S. men, so that falling backwards on the cement floor he was instantly killed; or he was shot to death ... Fr Kolbe bore up bravely, he did not beg and did not complain but raised the spirits of the others.... Since they had grown very weak, prayers were now only whispered. At every inspection, when almost all the others were now lying on the floor, Fr Kolbe was seen kneeling or standing in the centre as he looked cheerfully in the face of the S. S. men. Two weeks passed in this way. Meanwhile one after another they died, until only Fr Kolbe was left. This the authorities felt was too long; the cell was needed for new victims. So one day they brought in the head of the sick-quarters, a German, a common criminal named Bock, who gave Fr Kolbe an injection of carbolic acid in the vein of his left arm. Fr Kolbe, with a prayer on his lips, himself gave his arm to the executioner. Unable to watch this I left under the pretext of work to be done. Immediately after the S. S. men with the executioner had left I returned to the cell, where I found Fr Kolbe leaning in a sitting position against the back wall with his eyes open and his head drooping sideways. His face was calm and radiant.'
The heroism of Father Kolbe went echoing through Auschwitz. In that desert of hatred he had sown love. Mr Jozef Stemler, former director of an important cultural institute in Poland, comments: 'In those conditions ... in the midst of a brutalization of thought and feeling and words such as had never before been known, man indeed became a ravening wolf in his relations with other men. And into this state of affairs came the heroic self-sacrifice of Fr Maximilian. The atmosphere grew lighter, as this thunderbolt provoked its profound and salutary shock.' Jerzy Bielecki declared that Fr Kolbe's death was 'a shock filled with hope, bringing new life and strength.... It was like a powerful shaft of light in the darkness of the camp.'
Saint Maximilian Kolbe
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe' DVD
His reputation spread far and wide, through the Nazi camps and beyond. After the war newspapers all over the world were deluged with articles about this 'saint for our times', 'saint of progress', 'giant of holiness'. Biographies were written, and everywhere there were claims of cures being brought about through his intercession. 'The life and death of this one man alone', wrote the Polish bishops, 'can be proof and witness of the fact that the love of God can overcome the greatest hatred, the greatest injustice, even death itself.' The demands for his beatification became insistent, and at last on 12 August 1947 proceedings started. Seventy-five witnesses were questioned. His cause was introduced on 16 March 1960. When all the usual objections had been overcome, the promoter spoke of 'the charm of this magnificent fool'. On 17 October 1971 Maximilian Kolbe was beatified. Like his master Jesus Christ he had loved his fellow-men to the point of sacrificing his life for them. 'Greater love hath no man than this ... and these were the opening words of the papal decree introducing the process of beatification.

Blessed Maximilian Kolbe, Priest hero of a death camp. By Mary Craig. Published by The Catholic Truth Society-London.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe DVD by Mary's Dowry Productions
available worldwide from:

Monday, 26 October 2015

Editing for our new film about Saint Maximilian Kolbe begins.

We have started editing our new film about Saint Maximilian Kolbe this week, October 25th 2015. The film will run for half an hour and present Saint Maximilian’s life and martyrdom in a detailed, spiritual format. The visuals that we acquired on our filming day on October 10th provide careful originality and footage. This is combined with historical photographs, imagery and sacred art. Mary’s Dowry Productions was founded in 2007. Our aim was to present the lives of the English Martyrs through biographical and devotional film format on DVD to our parish and Diocese. We make the DVDs available worldwide through Amazon and our online shop for others who have expressed interest. Many of our films have been broadcast on EWTN, BBC and SKY. We are looking forward to completing this new film about Saint Maximilian Kolbe. Coming soon!
Update: Our film is now available on DVD worldwide through our online shop:

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Blessed Titus Brandsma, behind the scenes photograph, Dutch priest and Martyr

Behind the scenes photograph of a scene filmed on Saturday October 10th 2015 for Blessed Titus Brandsma, a Dutch priest who was martyred in the Dachau Concentration Camp in 1942.
This scene shows Blessed Titus with his superior as he is arrested.
The set was built to give a simple backdrop for several scenes throughout the day and was constructed in the barn attached to English Martyrs Catholic Church in Goring-by-Sea, home of Mary's Dowry Productions and the Sistine Chapel Reproduction.
Our film about Blessed Titus Brandsma is due for release within the next few months.
Since 2007 Mary's Dowry Productions, named after a one thousand year old title for England which was dedicated to Our Lady as her Dowry by many English kings, has been producing DVDs on the Saints and Martyrs for our parish and Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. These DVDs are also made available worldwide through AMAZON and our online shop and many have been broadcast on EWTN, SKY and the BBC.
Our films are informative and spiritual and give an original presentation of the life of a Saint, Blessed or Martyr.
For a full listing of films:

Filming for Saint Edith Stein, production photograph, behind-the-scenes

Saturday October 10th, in the barn, English Martyrs Church, Goring, home of Mary's Dowry Productions (and the Sistine Chapel Ceiling Reproduction).
A behind the scenes photograph during production on our upcoming DVD.
In this new film we will present the life of Saint Edith Stein.
We hope to release the film within the next few months.
The above scene shows Saint Edith Stein and her sister Rosa with the Gestapo in the convent in Echt.
Since 2007 Mary's Dowry Productions has been making DVDs on the lives of the Saints for our parish and Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. These films are also made available on DVD worldwide and have been broadcast on EWTN, SKY and BBC1.
Visit our website for other DVDs about the Saints and Martyrs:

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Filming day photograph for Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Mary's Dowry Productions, behind-the-scenes

A behind-the-scenes photograph from our filming day on October 10th 2015.
This photographs shows two sets constructed for various backdrops and in the left set a scene is being filmed for Saint Maximilian Kolbe.
Our film will be released on DVD within the next few months.
For other DVDs on the Saints and Martyrs of the Catholic Church visit:

Filming day for Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Saint Edith Stein and Blessed Titus Brandsma.

Mary's Dowry Productions had a busy but successful day on Saturday October 10th filming for three future DVDs about Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Saint Edith Stein and Blessed Titus Brandsma. Filming took place in 'the barn' at English Martyrs Church near Worthing, West Sussex where we built three simple backdrops. We also used the courtyard and locations around the barn and our usual style of costumed visuals to represent the Saints and various historical people. The films will continue to be produced over the next few months. Many thanks to everyone who was able to take part.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Saint Robert Southwell, DVD available now, NEW FILM.

Our NEW film presenting the life, mission and martyrdom of Jesuit priest and poet Saint Robert Southwell is now available on DVD worldwide through Mary's Dowry Productions.

In 2007 Mary’s Dowry productions created a new form of film media to present the lives of the saints. Mary’s Dowry Productions recreates stunning silent visuals, informative, devotional narration, and original contemplative music that touches your spirit to draw you into a spiritual encounter with the saint. Watch with your spiritual eye, listen with your spiritual ear. Our films seek to offer a window into the lives of our saints. Using your spiritual senses we invite you to shut out the world, sit prayerfully and peacefully and go on a journey of faith, history and prayer with this inspiring Elizabethan Saint.

Saint Robert Southwell and Saint Henry Garnet
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Robert Southwell'
Saint Robert Southwell was a young Elizabethan man whose love of God and those around him was reflected brightly in his joy, zeal and poetry. Longing to share the love of God with everyone, Saint Robert Southwell travelled abroad to train for the priesthood during a troubled time in England's history. He returned to England and travelled the country offering Mass and spiritual treasures from his deeply loving heart.
A gypsy tried to steal Saint Robert Southwell when he was a child
© Mary's Dowry Productions 2015
Screenshot from 'Saint Robert Southwell'
His writings came to the attention of Queen Elizabeth I who admired his poetry even though she feared his pen and missionary spirit. Saint Robert brought joy, peace and comfort to all around him, taking that love even to those who persecuted him. He has left us an inspiring story of hope especially for troubled times in history and society.

Even in the face of his persecutors Saint Robert Southwell
remained calm and prayed for his enemies
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'St. Robert Southwell' DVD
In 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions filmed several key moments from Saint Robert Southwell's life for a prayerful and spiritual film. While filled with facts, information and details, our DVD about Saint Robert Southwell is a journey with the Saint that offers a prayerful encounter.
It is available worldwide on DVD through Mary's Dowry Productions