Third of ten children, she attended only three years of school. As a teenager, she worked as a domestic servant for other families. After being rejected by several religious orders, she became a nun in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw, Poland on 1 August 1925; the order is devoted to care and education of troubled young women. She changed her name to Sister Maria Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament. During her 13 years in various houses, she was a cook, gardener, and porter.
She had a special devotion to Mary Immaculate, to the Sacrament, and to Reconciliation, which led to a deep mystical interior life. She began to have visions, receive revelations, and experience hidden stigmata. She began recording these mystical experiences in a diary; being nearly illiterate, it was written phonetically, without quotation marks or punctuation, and runs to nearly 700 pages. A bad translation reached Rome in 1958, and was labelled heretical. However, when Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) became Archbishop of Krakow, he was beseiged by requests for a reconsideration. He ordered a better translation made, and Vatican authorities realized that instead of heresy, the work proclaimed God's love. It was published as Divine Mercy in my Soul.
In the 1930's, Sister Faustina received a message of mercy from Jesus that she was told to spread throughout the world, a message of God's mercy to each person individually, and for humanity as a whole. Jesus asked that a picture be painted of him with the inscription: "Jesus, I Trust in You." She was asked to be a model of mercy to others, to live her entire life, in imitation of Christ's, as a sacrifice. She commissioned this painting in 1935, showing a red and a white light shining from Christ's Sacred Heart.
Apostles of Divine Mercy is a movement of priests, religious, and lay people inspired by Faustina's experiences; they spread knowledge of the mystery of Divine Mercy, and invoke God's mercy on sinners. Approved in 1996 by the Archdiocese of Krakow, it has spread to 29 countries.
Born: 25 August 1905 at Glogowiec, Poland as Elena (Helena) Kowalska
Died: 5 October 1938 at Krakow, Poland of tuberculosis
Venerated: 7 March 1992 by Pope John Paul II
Beatified: 18 April 1993 by Pope John Paul II
her beatification miracle involved the cure of Maureen Digan who suffered Milroy's disease, a hereditary form of lymphedema that cost her a leg
Canonized: 30 April 2000 by Pope John Paul II
her canonization miracle involved the cure of Father Ronald P. Pytel's heart condition
Patronage: World Youth Day
Feast: 5 October
Major shrine: Basilica of Divine Mercy, Kraków, Poland
(1934) at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary
The Shrine of Divine Mercy is a very special shrine in the centre of Vilnius because it displays the original Image of Divine Mercy. This special Image of Divine Mercy was painted by Eugene Kazimirowski under the direction of St. Faustina and Bl. Fr. Sopocko in Fr. Sopocko’s parish house in Vilnius.
The Image was restored by an art expert in 2003. The Archbishop of Vilnius then re-consecrated the renovated church of the Holy Trinity in Vilnius into the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in 2004. Since then, this Shrine has been open to the public to go in to and take some time to pray or attend Mass.
We must never forget that Jesus referred to this Image as a “Vessel of Graces” to which people could constantly come to for graces for the hardships of their everyday lives.
Love for the Eucharist
Pope John Paul II
The Great Mercy Pope
Pope John Paul II, both in his teaching and personal life, strove to live and teach the message of Divine Mercy. As the great Mercy Pope, he wrote an encyclical on Divine Mercy:
"The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me… which I took with me to the See of Peter and which it in a sense forms the image of this Pontificate."
In his writings and homilies, he has described Divine Mercy as the answer to the world’s problems and the message of the third millennium. He beatified and canonized Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the nun associated with the message, and he did it in Rome and not in Poland to underscore that Divine Mercy is for the whole world.
Establishing Divine Mercy Sunday for the Entire Church
When Pope John Paul canonized Sr. Faustina (making her St. Faustina), he also, on the same day, surprised the entire world by establishing Divine Mercy Sunday (the feast day associated with the message) as a feast day for the entire Church. The feast day falls on the Second Sunday of the Easter season. On that day, Pope John Paul II declared, "This is the happiest day of my life."
Pope Benedict’s Divine Mercy Mandate
Most people are familiar with Pope John Paul II’s devotion to Divine Mercy. In fact, he was so linked with that devotion that he is often referred to as “The Mercy Pope”. In the book Pope Benedict’s Divine Mercy Mandate (2009, Marian Press), author David Came outlines the current pontiff’s reflections on Divine Mercy and its importance to his pontificate.
In his address to the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI left no doubt about his feelings toward Divine Mercy as he stated, “I address my cordial greeting which now becomes a mandate: go forth and be witnesses of God’s mercy, a source of hope for every person and for the whole world.” This message was actually nothing new for Pope Benedict, who expressed “deep gratitude for Divine Mercy” in his first address as Pope on April 20, 2005.
Pope Benedict has stressed that the main expression of Divine Mercy is our salvation, which was brought about by the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Numerous quotes from Benedict and John Paul II are used to support this theory as well as the assertion that Divine Mercy is the central message of the Gospel.
"How much need the world has to understand and accept Divine Mercy!"
- Pope John Paul II
"How many people also in our time are in search of God, in search of Jesus and of his Church, in search of divine mercy, and are waiting for a "sign" that will touch their minds and their hearts!"
- Pope Benedict XVI
“Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish."
- Pope Francis on March 31, 2013