Sometime ago I expressed interest in obtaining a Ham (amateur) Radio license.

Did you know that St. Maximilian Kolbe is the only saint to have held an amateur radio license?

His call: SP3RN

Okay… he is a martyr saint.  But think of what he might have done as a ham had he had WDTPRS mugs of …




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    Thanks for mentioning this topic again, Father. I would urge you to take your Technician Class exam NOW while the information is still fresh in your mind. No need to wait until you finish your General Class studies. I took both of my exams on different dates.

    I’d be interested in Bryan Boyle’s opinion.

  2. AnAmericanMother says:

    It’s a little unclear — a test broadcasting license was issued to the monastery in 1938, but it’s not known who the license holder was. The call sign seems to be for a broadcast station rather than an individual – the letters SP are assigned to Poland, 3 was the region, and RN stands for “Radio Niepokalanów”. But the radio regs in Poland were no doubt different then. Anyway, no full broadcast license was ever issued because of the invasion of Poland. Details here.
    Whoever held the license, though, the Saint was in charge of the station and broadcast regularly condemning the Nazis’ atrocities in Poland. Fearless.

  3. Bryan Boyle says:

    I have vacation coming up…maybe if we can convince the good Father to come out to PHL..I know I can put a VE team together in a couple minutes…wow…imagine sitting across from Father Z and giving HIM a test? Yikes.

    I am in full agreement. I have an HF rig here that I’ll contribute to the cause of getting him on the air if he passes his General.

    FWIW, Roger Cardinal Mahony is also licensed: W6QYI, but I’m sure Fr. Z already knows that. [I did not!] You’d be surprised who else is. My good friend, Gerry (N2GJ), is one of the two OMs who maintain the ‘Famous Hams List’ at http://users.tellurian.com/gjurrens/famous_hams.html.

    Just do it, Father! You’ll be famous (oops….already are), well-liked (ditto), and make new friends (at the bottom of the WDTPRS pileup the first time you’re on…;))

    73 WB0YLE

  4. iPadre says:

    If St. Maximilian were alive today, he would be at the forefront of the new media revolution. He did great things, even as a seminarian. May he inspire us all in our work for the New Evangelization.

  5. EXCHIEF says:

    SP3RN was an amateur radio callsign issued to St. Kolbe in Poland. Polish commercial licenses at the time did not have a number, only letters. St Kolbe has been considered by many to be the Patron Saint of amateur radio operators.

    I tend to disagree with those urging you to get the Tech out of the way before you sit for the General.With your smarts you can do both on the same date. IMO HF is where you want to be and the General gives you that–especially since a generous reader has offered you an HF rig. I can see (hear) it now..the WDTPRS Net on 40 meters one evening a week.
    de N7WR

    [I can hear it now: .– -.. – .–. .-. … / .– -.. – .–. .-. … / .– -.. – .–. .-. … ]

  6. frjim4321 says:

    Having built a few crystal sets back in the day I must say I enjoyed this post.

  7. EXCHIEF says:

    –… …–

  8. Will D. says:

    That’s really cool. I took my confirmation name in honor of St. Maximilian because of his great faith and act of immense charity. I knew he had published newspapers in Japan and Poland, but that he was also a Ham was news to me.

  9. Andkaras says:

    Do you mean to tell me that when the persecutions come again ,and we have to smuggle and hide our priests (like in olde England),that Fr.Z is going to show up with 2 trunks of vestments and Mass necessities AND a Ham radio ?!!…I had better go work on the attic …Oh ,heaven help us . At least he got rid of most of the books! : )

  10. Fr Jackson says:

    That’s very neat about a Saint having a callsign.
    I’ve had two callsigns: KB0PGJ in the USA and ZL2JAC in New Zealand.
    Hope you do it someday, Father!

  11. Frances M says:

    From my parish bulletin:
    Calling all St. Matthew Ham Radio Operators. Did you
    know that St. Maximilian Kolbe, martyr of charity and
    saint of Auschwitz, is also the patron saint of ham radio
    operators as he was one himself? (SP3RN) He was
    canonized a saint on October 10, 1982 by Pope John
    Paul II. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of his
    canonization. Several hams in the parish are making
    preparations for setting up a special events station in the
    Parish Center on Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to
    8 p.m. to commemorate this anniversary. If you are
    interested in participating or have any questions, please
    contact. . . .


  12. Bryan Boyle says:

    40’s been running short lately and 80/75 is no better for whatever reason. Even if Fr. only does the Tech (just do that plus the General…it’s not that difficult…and gives you the HF bands…), I can set up an Echolink conference on my repeater computer that can handle 20-30 participants…so…there are always ways to build a net. Thinking up by the top of 20?

    Some of the fascinating stations you can come across…search for DR60BENE on QRZ. A special event station celebrating the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s first Mass. Waiting for the QSL card for that one. 13 Colonies special event around the 4th of July. Clean sweep for me this year (hardest one was PA, where I’m located…the bands just were not cooperating and I was skipping over the PA station) , Battleship weekend (stations located on Navy battleship museums…I’ve worked from the USS Massachusetts in my home town…the NA QSO sideband QSO party this weekend…and Field Day.

    I’d gladly help Fr. set his station up…when the time comes.

    –. — -.. / -… .-.. . … …
    de WB0YLE

  13. NoraLee9 says:

    I have very fond memories of my neighbor, Bill Pepper, who was a HAM Radio operator in Homer, NY. (He has gone to his reward in HAM Heaven). His son was my brother’s best friend and they were both in South East Asia at the same time, although, in vastly different areas. I was still little at the time, but I seem to remember that we got news on the boys, their whereabouts, and other interesting info that was not generally available to the “public.” His contacts came in handy when my brother was deployed to Australia, after his aircraft caught on fire and he we sent to AU to have burns treated….

    You should do this, and soon Father. This stuff is just too cool….

  14. JonPatrick says:

    Reading this makes me nostalgic for my teenage years when I was interested in Ham (and just about any other kind) of radio. Unfortunately I was not a citizen at the time so could not get my license. Instead I got to play with radios in Civil Air Patrol plus did a lot of short wave listening. Like Fr. Jim I also enjoyed building crystal sets, being able to listen to radio signals with no electricity supply needed was fascinating. By the time I became a citizen I was in college and other interests had pushed Ham Radio to the background.

  15. WMBriggs says:

    I’ll echo KE4WKV: take as many of the exams as you can at once. Information about capacitance has a way of leaking out of gray matter.


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