Gailestingumo šventovė, Vilnius
The first call to paint a picture of Jesus;s Divine Mercy was heard by Faustina Kovalska, the Sister of Mercy, on February 22 1931 while in Poland, in the monastery of Plock. Already during this vision, Jesus not only promised to provide many graces through the picture, but also associated it with the Feast of Mercy, and with it the whole Mystery of Mercy. She wrote in her diary about this vision: “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…My image already is in your soul. I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy. I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy.“(Dn, 47-49)
Sister Faustina’s confessor initially believed that what Christ had in mind was to paint an image in Faustina’s soul. Jesus’ confirmation that it would be a “painting you paint with a brush” became an impossible task for Sister Faustina, who could not draw. One time the elder of the monastery even handed over a brush and told her to draw. It was only when Sister Faustina settled in Vilnius that her confessor, priest M. Sopočka, although she initially looked at her visions with hesitation, began to look for an artist who, according to her story, could paint the image of Jesus. At first, she interviewed the Bernardine artist Frances Viežbicka, but she refused. Perhaps Jesus told Faustina that she was not humble enough. (354) The clergyman then turned to his neighbor, an artist, because he lived and wrote scientific work during visits to the sisters, and the artist Eugenijus Kazimirovskis also had a studio there. The priest admits that in the beginning he took the task out of curiosity, but in the long run he became involved in the process, not only making sure that the painting was painted as accurately as possible according to Faustina’s stories, but also posing for the artist.
The artist began work in January 1934 where he worked patiently and humbly for almost half a year. From her monastery in Antakalnis, Sister Faustina, accompanied by a senior artist, visited the workshop once or twice a week. It is symbolic that before going to give further instructions to the artist, she also visited the Gates of Dawn to pray.
Sister Faustina was not pleased with the painted picture because the Jesus seen in the visions was more magnificent. But Jesus answered her, it is not in the beauty of the paint or brush that yields the greatness of this painting, but his grace. He explained that this picture is a vessel of his grace with which people must come to find the source of mercy. This vessel is a picture with the caption, “Jesus, I trust in you.” After Jesus confirmed what the inscription should be, Fr. M. Sopočka engraved it on an additional plate, which he attached to the frame under the picture, because there was not enough space on the picture to write it.