Saint M. Faustina Kovalska
“In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My People. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world..“ (D 1588)
Helena Kovalska was born on August 25th 1905. She was the third child out of ten in a poor and devout Catholic family in Poland, in the village of Glogowiec in the parish of Schwinzica. At the age of seven, she first heard a voice calling her to a better life.
„How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting Me off?..Go at once to Warsaw; you will enter a convent there“ (D 9, 10)
Despite parental resistance, in 1924, after hearing the above words from Jesus himself, Helena Kovalska went to Warsaw, where she was going to join the monastery. After a year of advice from the elder's older sister to work, Helena Kovalska earned the necessary funds for the monastery's contribution. In August 1925 Sister Faustina entered the Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw. Then in 1926 she received the name of sister Mary Faustina once entering the monastery. In 1929 Sister Faustina lived in the Vilnius monastery for the first time for a month and a half.
„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.“ ( 47)
In 1931 at Plock Monastery Sister Faustina saw the Lord Jesus Christ in a vision, who commanded her to paint a picture according to said vision. In May 1933 after her eternal vows she came to Vilnius and during her confession she met the Blessed Father M. Sopočka. He hosted Sister. The meeting of Faustina and the painter E. Kazimirovskis took place on January 2, 1934 in Vilnius, Vizitiečių Monastery, Rasų str. 6.
„Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace.“ (D 313)
From the first meeting to July 1934. Sister Faustina visited E. Kazimirovskis at least once a week to see what the Divine Mercy image looked like. But seeing Jesus painted in the picture, Sister Faustina was very sad and complained to Jesus about it in prayer.
„I desire that you make an offering of yourself for sinners and especially for those souls who have lost hope in God‟s mercy..“ (D 308)
On Good Thursday 1934, Sister Faustina, in carrying out the mission appointed by Jesus, offered up during the Holy Mass for the conversion of sinners and especially for souls who turned away from God’s mercy.
„I desire that this image be displayed in public on the first Sunday after Easter. That Sunday is 47 the Feast of Mercy. Through the Word Incarnate, I make known the bottomless depth of My mercy.“ (D 88)
In October 1934 Sister Faustina saw Jesus for the second time as she did in 1931 in Plock Monastery: with two rays from the heart of Jesus scattered all over the world. The same rays were seen again in November 1934 during Holy Mass. In December 1935, Jesus repeated his request to his sister. Faustina, that the first Sunday after Easter would be the Sunday of Mercy.
„I desire that there be such a Congregation..“ (D 437)
From May 1935. Sister Faustina had the idea of a new monastery that is mentioned in many places in her diary. However, that idea could not be implemented while she was alive.
„ Every time you enter the chapel, immediately recite the prayer which I taught you yesterday. When I had said the prayer, in my soul I heard these words: This prayer will serve to appease My wrath. You will recite it for nine days, on the beads of the rosary: ...“ (D 476).
In September 1935 Jesus dictated to Sister Faustina the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Later, Jesus repeatedly asked her to speak this chaplet to save souls.
„Do not fear anything. I am always with you..“ (D 629)
Such words of the Lord led Sister Faustina in March 1936 out of Vilnius to go to Poland. She did not return to Vilnius. The sister first lived in Warsaw, then was transferred to other monasteries until May1936 permanently settled in the Lagievnik Monastery in Kraków.
„My child, just a few more drops in your chalice; it won‟t be long now.“ (D 694)
In September1936 after severe deterioration in health Sister Faustina was diagnosed with jaundice.
„At the third hour pray for my mercy, especially for sinners [...]. It is an hour of great mercy for the whole world.“ (D 694)
In October 1937 Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina at the Hour of Mercy, asking her, if possible, to pray at the stations of the Way of the Cross at that hour, or at least for a short time in the chapel to pray to His merciful hear.
1938 September. She last met with the spiritual father, Fr. M. Sopočka, and on October 5 of the same year reposed in the Lord.
In 1967 Sister Faustina’s information gathering process was completed and her beatification case was sent to Rome. However, it was not until 1993 she was declared blessed. On April 30th 2000 on the Sunday of Mercy, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Sister Faustina a saint. Her Diary was first published in 1981.
Blessed Fr. Mykolas Sopočka
In 1933 At the end of May, while already in Vilnius, during her confession, Sister Faustina met priest Mykolas Sopočkas for the first time, whom she had previously seen in his visions in Poland. Jesus revealed to Sister Faustina at the time that it was a priest who would help her do His will. (D 236)
To help Sister Faustina fulfill her mission of painting the image of the Merciful Jesus, establishing the Feast of Mercy on the first Sunday after Easter, and establishing a new Holy Order, Jesus sent priest Mykolas Sopočka to help her. In various places on St Faustina’s Diary, Jesus speaks of the importance of Fr. M. Sopočka's role in spreading the message of His mercy: “He is a priest after My own Heart; his efforts are pleasing to Me. You see, My daughter, that My will must be done and that which I had promised you, I shall do. Through him I spread comfort to suffering and careworn souls. Through him it pleased Me to proclaim the worship of My mercy. ”(D 1256). When he met Sister Faustina, Fr. Sopočka devoted almost his entire life to spreading the mercy of Jesus and cultivating the devotion to God's mercy.
In 1933 Fr. M. Sopočka had already served in different parts of Poland and Lithuania as a priest, chaplain of the army, confessor of the nuns of the monastery, spiritual father in the Vilnius seminary of priests and a lecturer of the university. He was born on November 1 1888, In Navasedai, present-day Belarus. In 1914 he was ordained a priest. In 1924 Vilnius Bishop Jurgis Matulaitis invited Fr. M. Sopočkas to work in the Vilnius diocese and appointed him confessor to the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Sister Faustina in long conversations with the priest often told him about his experiences with the revelations of the Merciful Jesus.
From 1932 to 1934 M. Sopočka lived in Vilnius in the monastery of the visiting sisters. It was at his request that the painter Eugenijus Kazimirovskis, who lived on the ground floor of the same house, from January 1934. He created the first image of the Merciful Jesus. The priest regularly attended meetings between Sister Faustina and the painter regarding the image. Therefore, he was aware of the secrets of the ideological content of the painting and all its nuances.
Fr. M. Sopočka was the rector in Vilnius’s St.Michael's Church in 1934. In April 1937 in this church he consecrated the image of the Merciful Jesus. August 1937 Fr. Sopočka arrived at the Krakow Monastery. Sister Faustina rejoiced greatly that God had helped her accomplish her tasks through this priest: "I was extremely glad, because only God knows how ardently I wished to see him for the sake of the work God is doing through him, and this, even though the visit had some unpleasant aspects to it as well." (D 1252)
In the years of World War II, Fr. Sopočka enthusiastically proclaimed the vision of God’s mercy, thus attracting many people and awakening their faith that in such a difficult time, only God’s mercy can save the world.
1944 in Vilnius Fr. Ms. Sopočka established the Monastery of the Sisters of the Merciful Jesus. Thus he fulfilled the last request revealed to sister Faustina by Jesus.
Despite the church’s hesitance to approve the cult of God’s Mercy, Fr. Ms. Sopočka devoted the rest of his life to the apostolic plans and visions of that cult, as he wrote in his diary. In various theological publications and articles, he has constantly sought to justify the existence of God’s mercy on the basis of the Church’s teaching in order to establish the Feast of Mercy, as Jesus demanded.
Two attempts to build The Shrine of Divine Mercy were also associated with the idea of God’s mercy. The first project in Šnipiškės district, Vilnius, 1940 collapsed due to Soviet occupation. The second attempt was in Białystok in 1950-1960. Due to his deteriorating health, priest M. Sopočka was forced to retire. Therefore, this plan also remained unimplemented.
2008 September. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Fr Mykolas Sopočka.
Saint John Paul II
Like St. Faustina, St. John II, is considered an apostle of God's mercy, and is closely associated with the city of Krakow. When John Paul II began studying Polish philology in 1938 at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Sister Faustina lived in a monastery in Kraków. At that time, St. John Paul II did not yet know that in 2000. it is he who will canonize St. Faustina and at the same time establish the Sunday of Mercy, as Jesus asked Sister Faustina in her visions. Being so close to the same city, the two never met.
Karol Voityla (St. John II) was born on May 18 1920. In the town of Vadovice, 50 km from Krakow. In 1946 he was ordained a priest and in 1958 was appointed Bishop of the Archdiocese of Kraków, and in 1964. - Archbishop of Krakow. In 1978 as the Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Voityla, was elected pope.
In 1940 while working in forced labor, Karol Voityla often passed through the Lagievnik Monastery in Kraków, where Sister Faustina lived till her death in 1938.
He used to pray in the chapel of the monastery. On August 21 2002 in one of St. John Paul II’s audiences he mentioned that as a worker and student, and later a priest and bishop, he often repeated this simple and profound address, "I trust in thee," and thus experienced its effectiveness and power.
Already at the beginning of his pontificate in 1980 in his encyclical “Dives in Misericordia”, St. John Paul II called on the Church to cry out for God's mercy "according to the needs of man and the dangers to man in the modern world." In the prayer section of the Church of our day, he wrote, "Let us pray for God's mercy to mankind today!"
In 1994 The Shrine of God’s Divine Mercy had been established in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Rome.
During his service as archbishop in 1968, Karol Voityla opened the case of Faustina's beatification in Krakow. He continued his mission. In 1993 on the second Sunday of Easter John Paul II proclaimed Sister Faustina Kovalska blessed.
In 1999 He addressed all priests and believers of the prayer to the Lord’s Angel of Mercy and: "I sincerely urge you to be apostles of divine mercy, like Blessed Faustina Kovalska, in the living and working environment of each of you."
On April 30 2000 during a very important time, which is a kind of bridge into the third millennium after the birth of Christ, St. John Paul II declared Sister Faustina a saint. In his homily, he said: “The canonization of Sister Faustina is extremely significant: with this gesture I want to present this message today for the new millennium. I bestow this upon you all, that ye may know more and more the true face of God and of your brethren. He also spread the message of God's mercy to all people, affirming the Sunday of God's Mercy as a celebration of the whole Church:“Therefore, it is important that on today's second Easter Sunday, which will henceforth be called the Sunday of Mercy throughout the Church, we fully understand the message of God's Word.”
In 2002, three years before his death,In his homily at the Lagievnik Shrine in Krakow, St. John Paul II entrusted the whole world with Divine Mercy with great desire. He expressed a great desire for God’s Divine Mercy, through St. Faustina would fill the hearts of all people with hope.
2011 May 1 Pope Benedict the XVI declared Pope John Paul II blessed and on April 27th 2014 Pope Francis declared him a saint.