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St. Faustina Kowalska

St. Faustina Kowalska, born Helena Kowalska on August 25, 1905, in Głogowiec, Poland, is widely known for her role in promoting the devotion to the Divine Mercy. Her life, marked by profound mystical experiences and a deep union with God, has left an enduring impact on the Catholic Church. St. Faustina's journey unfolded against the backdrop of the tumultuous early 20th century, encompassing periods of war, social upheaval, and significant developments within the Church.

Helena Kowalska was the third of 10 children in a devout Catholic family. From a young age, she exhibited a strong religious inclination and a compassionate heart. She began attending school, but had to leave early due to financial constraints. At the age of 16, she moved to Warsaw to work as a housekeeper to help support her family.

In 1924, Helena expressed her desire to enter the convent, but her initial attempts were met with rejection from various religious orders. Undeterred, she continued to seek God's guidance, and in 1925, while attending a dance in Warsaw, she experienced a profound mystical encounter with Jesus. During this vision, Jesus asked her to enter a convent, reinforcing her earlier call to religious life.

In 1925, Helena entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw, taking the name Sister Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament. She spent the next 13 years in various religious houses, primarily in Poland, and engaged in humble tasks such as cooking, gardening, and cleaning. Despite her simple exterior, Sister Faustina's inner life was marked by extraordinary mystical experiences and a deep prayer life.

The most significant aspect of St. Faustina's spirituality is her devotion to the Divine Mercy, a message she received directly from Jesus. According to her visions, Jesus asked her to spread the message of His mercy to the world and to paint an image of Him as she saw Him. This image, known as the Divine Mercy image, features Jesus with rays of red and white light emanating from His heart, symbolizing the blood and water that flowed from His side on the Cross.

In addition to the image, St. Faustina recorded the contents of her mystical experiences and conversations with Jesus in a diary, later published as "Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul." The diary provides insights into her spiritual encounters, including Jesus' revelations about His mercy, the importance of trust, and the desire for a feast day dedicated to the Divine Mercy.

St. Faustina faced skepticism and misunderstanding from some within her religious community regarding her mystical experiences. However, she remained obedient to her superiors and the guidance of her spiritual directors. It was through the efforts of her confessor, Blessed Michael Sopocko, and others that her writings and the Divine Mercy message gained more widespread attention.

St. Faustina's life took a significant turn when, in 1935, she received instructions from Jesus to work towards establishing a feast day dedicated to the Divine Mercy. She continued to document her experiences and devoted herself to spreading the message of God's mercy with zeal. Despite facing health challenges, including tuberculosis, she maintained her commitment to her mission.

In 1938, St. Faustina reported receiving a vision of the destruction that would come with the outbreak of World War II. Her prophetic visions, recorded in her diary, spoke of the suffering and devastation that would afflict humanity. The war began a year later, validating her warnings.

St. Faustina passed away on October 5, 1938, at the age of 33, from complications related to tuberculosis. At the time of her death, the significance of her mission and writings were not fully recognized within the Church. 

In the post-war era, the message of Divine Mercy gained prominence, thanks in large part to the efforts of Fr. Joseph Jarzębowski and other individuals who promoted St. Faustina's writings. The devotion spread internationally, finding a powerful advocate in Pope St. John Paul II, who had a deep personal devotion to the Divine Mercy.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina as the first saint of the new millennium. He also declared the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday, fulfilling the request made by Jesus to St. Faustina. This recognition by the Church brought St. Faustina's message to a global audience.

St. Faustina's legacy extends beyond her canonization. The Divine Mercy devotion has become a significant aspect of Catholic spirituality, with millions of believers around the world participating in Divine Mercy Sunday celebrations, reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and displaying the Divine Mercy image. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, given by Jesus to St. Faustina, is a prayer that emphasizes the power of God's mercy and asks for His mercy upon the whole world.

St. Faustina's life is a testament to the transformative power of divine mercy and the impact of an individual's fiat, or "yes," to God's call. Her journey from a humble girl in Poland to a saint recognized globally reflects the extraordinary ways in which God works through ordinary lives. St. Faustina's writings, particularly her diary, continue to inspire and guide individuals seeking a deeper understanding of God's mercy and an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

How the Painting Happened

February 22, 1931, St. Faustina wrote (Diary Notes 47-48)
”In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand [was] raised in the gesture of blessing; the other was touching the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale. In silence I kept my gaze fixed on the Lord; my soul was struck with awe, but also with great joy.

"After a while, Jesus said to me, 'Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory' "

Jesus also told her: “I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy… That vessel is this image with the signature: ‘Jesus, I trust in You,’ ” (Diary Note 327).

Later, St. Faustina’s Confessor requested her to ask the Lord Jesus the meaning of the two rays in the image, (Diary Note 77). St. Faustina wrote, “During prayer I heard these words within me: The two rays denote Blood and Water…
The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous… The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls... These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross."


Later, Jesus told St. Faustina: “My gaze from this image is like My gaze from the cross. … Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My Mercy." (Diary Note 299)

In April 1935, before the first Sunday after Easter, Jesus had told her “I desire that this image be displayed in public on the first Sunday after Easter… That Sunday is the Feast of Mercy… Through the Word Incarnate I make known the bottomless depth of My mercy."

St. Faustina later wrote in her diary, "Strangely, all things came about just as the Lord had requested. In fact, it was on the first Sunday after Easter that the image was publicly honored by crowds of people for the first time.

For three days it was exposed and received public veneration… during these three days, the Redemption of the World was being celebrated, marking the nineteen hundred years that have passed since the Passion of our Savior. I see now that the work of Redemption is bound up with the work of mercy requested by the Lord."

Marian Intercession

While there is no detailed account of specific encounters with the Virgin Mary comparable to those with Jesus, St. Faustina did express her love and devotion to Mary throughout her writings.

St. Faustina sought the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her spiritual journey. Mary was, for St. Faustina, a model of humility, purity, and perfect submission to the will of God. St. Faustina wrote about Mary's role in salvation history and her unique connection to the mystery of the Incarnation.

For example, in Diary entry 120, St. Faustina wrote about the Annunciation and Mary's fiat, saying, "O sweet Mother of God, I model my life on You; You are for me the bright dawn; In You I lose myself enraptured."

Additionally, St. Faustina emphasized the importance of seeking Mary's guidance in prayer, acknowledging her as a powerful advocate and intercessor. St. Faustina recognized Mary's unique role in leading souls to Jesus and encouraging them to trust in His mercy.

Famous Quotes

Saint Faustina Kowalska left behind a treasure trove of spiritual insights and reflections in her diary, "Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul." Here are some famous quotes attributed to St. Faustina:

"Jesus, I trust in You!"

"The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy."

"Prayer is the best preparation for Holy Communion. Prayer is a pouring out of the soul in the presence of God. When we pray well, we understand that it is a great work of God's grace."

"Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior; in suffering love becomes crystallized; the greater the suffering, the purer the love."

"Humility is nothing but the truth, and pride is nothing but lying."

"Obedience is a great virtue; it requires an intellect which refuses to reason, whenever humility requires submission."

"Say unceasingly the chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death."

"O living Host, my one and only strength, fountain of love and mercy, embrace the whole world, fortify faint souls."

"The Lord can refuse nothing to such a soul; she is all-powerful and influences the destiny of the whole world. God raises such souls up to greater heights. In His generosity, He does not refuse anything in whatever form it is asked for."

"Forgive your neighbor's intention and do not think that your neighbor wishes you harm. Guard against irritability, for it is always a hindrance to love."

"In whatever situation we may be, the Eye of God is always upon us. The Eye of God rests upon you. It accompanies you and is with you everywhere."

"The greatest battles are fought in the soul."

"O my Jesus, each of Your saints reflects 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."

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