October 5, 2015

October 5th: Saint Faustina — Virgin and Apostle of Mercy

St. Faustina Kowalska

Helena Kowalska was the third of ten children, born August 25, 1905, in Głogówiec, Poland. At fifteen she left school to help support her family. Helena felt called by God to a religious vocation. In 1925, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, taking the name Sister Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament.

This simple nun with only three years of formal education lived a short but consequential life. Through her, God reveled His compassion, His desire to forgive sins, and reconcile mankind to Himself. She endured great hardships in carrying out this Divine mission.

Sister Faustina received visions of our Lord, in which, Jesus instructed her to tell the world of His infinite love and mercy. She kept a diary of these visions; later published under the title Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of St. Faustina

Sister Faustina was thirty-three when she succumbed to tuberculosis. Following her death her writings were met with skepticism. After the Second World War, the Church would revisit them. The Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła (the future Pope John Paul II), reopened the investigation into Faustina's life and writings and approved devotion to the Divine Mercy, including praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

In 1993 Faustina was beatified, the last designation before sainthood. On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized her a saint and established the second Sunday of Easter (the first Sunday after Easter Sunday), as Divine Mercy Sunday.

Her Vatican biography is here. A PDF on praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet is available here.

Saint Faustina: Disciple of Mercy

On February 22, 1931, Jesus appeared to Faustina as the King of Divine Mercy. He asked her to have a picture painted of him as she saw him — clothed in white, with red and white rays of light streaming from his heart. The rays represent the blood and water that flowed from the side of Jesus on the cross. Under the image are the words, "Jesus, I trust in you."

At first, many people did not believe Faustina. The sisters in her convent thought that Jesus could not possibly have selected her for this great favor. After all, she was an uneducated peasant girl. Her superiors often refused to give her permission to carry out Jesus' requests. Church theologians, too, doubted her word. Jesus told Faustina that he loved her obedience and that his will would be done in the end.

In June 1934 an artist completed the painting of the Divine Mercy according to her instructions; and it soon became a focus for devotion. Faustina continued to record in her diary the appearances of Jesus. 

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