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Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska
1905-1938

Sister Maria Faustina, an apostle of the Divine Mercy, belongs today to the group of the most popular and well-known saints of the Church. Through her the Lord Jesus communicates to the world the great message of God's mercy and reveals the pattern of Christian perfection based on trust in God and on the attitude of mercy toward one's neighbors.

She was born on August 25, 1905 in Glogowiec in Poland of a poor and religious family of peasants, the third of ten children. She was baptized with the name Helena in the parish Church of Swinice Warckie. From a very tender age she stood out because of her love of prayer, work, obedience, and also her sensitivity to the poor. At the age of nine she made her first Holy Communion living this moment very profoundly in her awareness of the presence of the Divine Guest within her soul. She attended school for three years. At the age of sixteen she left home and went to work as a housekeeper in Aleksandrow, Lodzki and Ostrowek in order to find the means of supporting herself and of helping her parents.

At the age of seven she had already felt the first stirrings of a religious vocation. After finishing school, she wanted to enter the convent but her parents would not give her permission. Called during a vision of the Suffering Christ, on August 1, 1925 she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and took the name Sister Mary Faustina. She lived in the Congregation for thirteen years and lived in several religious houses. She spent time at Krakow, Plock and Vilnius, where she worked as a cook, gardener and porter.

Externally nothing revealed her rich mystical interior life. She zealously performed her tasks and faithfully observed the rule of religious life. She was recollected and at the same time very natural, serene and full of kindness and disinterested love for her neighbor. Although her life was apparently insignificant, monotonous and dull, she hid within herself an extraordinary union with God.

It is the mystery of the Mercy of God which she contemplated in the word of God as well as in the everyday activities of her life that forms the basis of her spirituality. The process of contemplating and getting to know the mystery of God's mercy helped develop within Sr. Maria Faustina the attitude of child-like trust in God as well as mercy toward the neighbors. O my Jesus, each of Your saints reflect one of Your virtues; I desire to reflect Your compassionate heart, full of mercy; I want to glorify it. Let Your mercy, O Jesus, be impressed upon my heart and soul like a seal, and this will be my badge in this and the future life (Diary 1242). Sister Faustina was a faithful daughter of the Church which she loved like a Mother and a Mystic Body of Jesus Christ. Conscious of her role in the Church, she cooperated with God's mercy in the task of saving lost souls. At the specific request of and following the example of the Lord Jesus, she made a sacrifice of her own life for this very goal. In her spiritual life she also distinguished herself with a love of the Eucharist and a deep devotion to the Mother of Mercy.

The years she had spent at the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as: revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, or the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage. The living relationship with God, the Blessed Mother, the Angels, the Saints, the souls in Purgatory - with the entire supernatural world - was as equally real for her as was the world she perceived with her senses. In spite of being so richly endowed with extraordinary graces, Sr. Maria Faustina knew that they do not in fact constitute sanctity. In her Diary she wrote: Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God (Diary 1107).

The Lord Jesus chose Sr. Maria Faustina as the Apostle and "Secretary" of His Mercy, so that she could tell the world about His great message. In the Old Covenant - He said to her -I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart (Diary 1588).

The mission of Sister Maria Faustina consists of 3 tasks:

  • reminding the world of the truth of our faith revealed in the Holy Scripture about the merciful love of God towards every human being.
  • Entreating God's mercy for the whole world and particularly for sinners, among others through the practice of new forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy presented by the Lord Jesus, such as: the veneration of the image of the Divine Mercy with the inscription: Jesus, I Trust in You, the feast of the Divine Mercy celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter, chaplet to the Divine Mercy and prayer at the Hour of Mercy (3 p.m.). The Lord Jesus attached great promises to the above forms of devotion, provided one entrusted one's life to God and practiced active love of one's neighbor.
  • The third task in Sr. Maria Faustina's mission consists in initiating the apostolic movement of the Divine Mercy which undertakes the task of proclaiming and entreating God's mercy for the world and strives for Christian perfection, following the precepts laid down by the Blessed Sr. Maria Faustina. The precepts in question require the faithful to display an attitude of child-like trust in God which expresses itself in fulfilling His will, as well as in the attitude of mercy toward one's neighbors. Today, this movement within the Church involves millions of people throughout the world; it comprises religious congregations, lay institutes, religious, brotherhoods, associations, various communities of apostles of the Divine Mercy, as well as individual people who take up the tasks which the Lord Jesus communicated to them through Sr. Mary Faustina.

The mission of the Saint Sr. Maria Faustina was recorded in her Diary which she kept at the specific request of the Lord Jesus and her confessors. In it, she recorded faithfully all of the Lord Jesus' wishes and also described the encounters between her soul and Him. Secretary of My most profound mystery - the Lord Jesus said to Sr. Faustina - know that your task is to write down everything that I make known to you about My mercy, for the benefit of those who by reading these things will be comforted in their souls and will have the courage to approach Me (Diary 1693). In an extraordinary way, Sr. Maria Faustina's work sheds light on the mystery of the Divine Mercy. It delights not only the simple and uneducated people, but also scholars who look upon it as an additional source of theological research.

The Diary has been translated into many languages, among others, English, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Hungarian, Czech and Slovak.

 

Sister Maria Faustina, consumed by tuberculosis and by innumerable sufferings which she accepted as a voluntary sacrifice for sinners, died in Krakow at the age of just thirty three on October 5, 1938 with a reputation for spiritual maturity and a mystical union with God. The reputation of the holiness of her life grew, as did the cult to the Divine Mercy and the graces she obtained from God through her intercession. In the years 1965-67, the investigative Process into her life and heroic virtues was undertaken in Krakow and in the year 1968, the Beatification Process was initiated in Rome. The latter came to an end in December 1992. On April 18, 1993 our Holy Father John Paul II raised Sister Faustina to the glory of the altars. Sister Faustina has been canonized in Rome on the first Sunday after Easter, April 30, 2000 by the Holy Father John Paul II. Saint Sister Maria Faustina's remains rest at the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki.

History of the Message and Devotion to Divine Mercy

August 25, 1905

Helena Kowalska was born in Glogowiec, Poland; the third of ten children living off a small farm and her father’s carpentry work.

August 27, 1905

Helena is baptized at St. Casimir’s church in Swinice Warckie.

1912

At the age of seven, Helena hears a voice calling her to religious life.

1914

Helena receives first Holy Communion.

1917

Helena begins her primary education, which lasts only two and a half years.

1920

At age 15, Helena begins domestic work to help support her large family.

1922

Helena returns home, announces a desire to enter the convent; her parents oppose; she works two years to help support her family.

July 1924

Helena sees a vision of the scourged Christ who calls her to religious life. Helena goes to Warsaw to search for a convent, and she works to support herself.

August 1925

Helena is accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy; one month later she wants to leave for a stricter order but stays.

April 30, 1926

Helena receives habit and her religious name Maria Faustina.

April 3, 1927

Sr. Faustina experiences spiritual dark night during novitiate.

April 16, 1928

On Good Friday, she is engulfed by the flame of Divine Love.

April 30, 1928

Sr. Faustina makes her first profession of temporary vows.

December 1928

Newly elected Mother General Michaela Moraczewska is source of help and comfort to Sr. Faustina during her religious life.

October 1928-30

Easily adaptable, Sr. Faustina is sent to work at various houses.

February 22, 1931

Sr. Faustina has a vision of Jesus who tells her to paint His image.

May 1, 1933

Sr. Faustina takes her perpetual vows.

May 25, 1933

Sr. Faustina goes to Vilnius where she receives many mystical experiences and is assisted by Fr. Michael Sopocko, a wise spiritual director.

January 2, 1934

Sr. Faustina visits the artist Kazimirowski, who is to paint the image.

March 29, 1934

Sr. Faustina offers herself for sinners, especially those who lack trust.

June 1934

The painting of Divine Mercy is completed, but Sr. Faustina does not like it.

July 1934

Beginning of Sr. Faustina’s illness; she begins writing the Diary directed by Fr. Michael Sopocko.

April 28, 1935

(Feast of Mercy) Divine Mercy image is publicly venerated in Vilnius for the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Redemption: January 8, 1936. Sr. Faustina informs the Bishop that Jesus requests the founding of an order.

May 11, 1936

Sr. Faustina goes to Krakow; guided by Fr. Andrasz SJ; her health deteriorates.

September 1937

Holy cards with the Divine Mercy image printed for the first time.

September 1938

Sr. Faustina prepares herself for death, and she asks pardon of the Congregation.

October 5, 1938

Sr. Faustina makes her final confession, and dies late in the evening.

October 7, 1938

Funeral of Sr. Faustina, burial at the convent cemetery.

1938-1959

The Divine Mercy message spreads worldwide through the efforts of Fr. Michael Sopocko, Confessor and Spiritual Director of Sr. Faustina who published images and literature in many languages.

April 1941

Fr. Joseph Jarzebowski, MIC, brings the Divine Mercy message to the USA and the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception begins to spread the message in Polish.

March 6, 1959

Holy Office issues a notification banning Divine Mercy devotion.

October 21, 1965

Informative Process of Sr. Faustina’s life and virtues is opened by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, encouraged by Cardinal Ottaviani, the Prefect of the Holy Office.

September 1967

Informative Process closes; Cardinal Wojtyla sends acts to Rome, January 31, 1968. The process of Beatification of Sr. Faustina is inaugurated.

April 15, 1978

The Prefect of Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declares the Notification ban no longer binding.

October 16, 1978

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla becomes Pope John Paul II.

July 12, 1979

The Prefect for the Doctrine of Faith issued an authoritative explanation of the Notification stating that no impediments exist in the spread of the message and devotion to the Divine Mercy in the forms proposed by Sr. Faustina.

November 30, 1980

Pope John Paul II issues encyclical on the Divine Mercy.

November 22, 1981

Pope John Paul II visits the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza near Todi, Italy, stating that, “Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter’s See in Rome, I considered this message (of Divine Mercy) my special task.”

April 10, 1991

Pope John Paul II links the encyclical’s message to Sr. Faustina.

March 7, 1992

Decree of Heroic Virtues of Sr. Faustina is promulgated.

December 1992

Miracle through intercession of Sr. Faustina is accepted.

April 18, 1993

Sr. Faustina is beatified in Rome on the Second Sunday of Easter.

January 2000

Second miracle through Blessed Faustina intercession is accepted.

April 30, 2000

Blessed Faustina is canonized in Rome on Divine Mercy Sunday and Divine Mercy Sunday is proclaimed.

May 5, 2000

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issues a Decree proclaiming the Second Sunday of Easter also as Divine Mercy Sunday.

December 2000

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments listed the Devotion to the Divine Mercy in its Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines.

April 22, 2001

Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated officially for the first time by the universal Church.

May 13, 2001

Congregation For The Clergy issues a document: “Priest of God, you embody the Mystery of Mercy.”

August 18, 2002

John Paul II consecrates the whole world to the Divine Mercy from The Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow-Lagiewniki, the site of St. Faustina’s tomb.

August 21, 2002

Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary issued on Indulgences attached to devotions in honor of Divine Mercy.

April 02, 2005

On the Vigil of the Feast of Divine Mercy Holy Father John Paul II – The Great Pope of the Divine Mercy died

June 28, 2005

Process of Beatification of John Paul II  is opened by  Holy Father Benedict XVI.




In the revelations to Sister Faustina, Our Lord Jesus Christ, again reiterated that He is merciful. His mercy is a Love to be asked for, received and shared. As we all know, Sr. Faustina was herself Polish and her revelations took place in the cities of Pock, Vilnius and Krakow. However, the miracles which led to her Beatification and Canonization took place in the United States of America. In this way, Sister Faustina is an apostle of the Divine Mercy for both countries, Poland and America, linking the old and the new and symbolically showing that the Divine Mercy is boundless, crossing the frontiers of the nations of the world.

J. Francis Cardinal Stafford
President
Pontifical Council for the Laity

From introduction to the book Dialogues on Divine Mercy

On March 23, 1937 Saint Maria Faustina wrote in her diary:

Suddenly, God's presence took hold of me, and at once I saw myself in Rome, in Holy Father's chapel and at the same time I was in our chapel. And the celebration of the Holy Father and the entire Church was closely connected with our chapel and, in a very special way, with our Congregation.

And I took part in the solemn celebration simultaneously here and in Rome, for the celebration was so closely connected with Rome that, even as I write, I cannot distinguish the two but I am writing it down as I saw it. I saw the Lord Jesus in our chapel, exposed in the monstrance on the high altar. The chapel was adorned as for a feast, and on that day anyone who wanted was allowed in. The crowd was so enormous that the eye could not take it all in.

Everyone was participating in the celebrations with great joy, and many of them obtained what they desired.

The same celebration was held in Rome, in a beautiful church, and the Holy Father, with all the clergy, was celebrating this Feast, and then suddenly I saw Saint Peter, who stood between the altar and the Holy Father. I could not hear what Saint Peter said but I saw that the Holy Father understood his words...[...]

Then suddenly, I saw how the two rays, as painted in the picture, issued from the Host and spread over the whole world. This lasted only a moment, but it seemed as though it had lasted all day, and our chapel was overcrowded all day long, and the whole day abounded in joy.

Then suddenly I saw on our altar the living Lord Jesus, just as He is depicted in the image. Yet I felt that the sisters and all the people did not see the Lord Jesus as I saw Him. Jesus looked with great kindness and joy at the Holy Father, at certain priests, at the entire clergy, at the people and at our Congregation.

Then, in an instant, I was caught up to stand near Jesus, and I stood on the altar next to the Lord Jesus, and my spirit was filled with a happiness so great that I am unable to comprehend it or write about it.

A profound peace as well as repose filed my soul. Jesus bent toward me and said with great kindness:

What is it you desire, My daughter?

And I answered: I desire worship and glory be given to Your mercy.

I already am receiving worship by the institution and celebration of this Feast? what else do you desire?

I then looked at the immense crowd worshipping The Divine Mercy and I said to the Lord: Jesus, bless all those who are gathered to give glory to You and to venerate Your infinite mercy.

Jesus made a sign of the cross with His hand, and this blessing was reflected in the souls like a flash of light. My spirit was engulfed in His love. I felt as if I had dissolved and disappeared completely in God.

When I came to myself, a profound peace was flooding my soul, and an extraordinary understanding of many things was communicated to my intellect, an understanding that had not been granted me previously.

I am immensely happy, although I am the last of all; and I would not change anything of what God has given me. (1044 - 1049)