St. Faustina, her life, her diary, and her promotion of Divine Mercy, are well known to so many around the world. But, what’s the story behind this amazing visionary, who only lived to be 33?
An Early Call
St. Faustina was born Helena Kowalska in Poland in 1905. She felt a call to the religious life very early and when she was finished school, she wanted to join, but her parents didn’t let her. She became a housekeeper to support her family.
In 1924, she had a vision of Jesus (the first of many to come). In the vision, Jesus told her to join a convent immediately. So, she packed her bags and left the next morning for Warsaw. She visited several convents, but they refused her because of her poverty and appearance (For reals?). Finally, she came to the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. They let her be the housekeeper so she could pay for her habit, and she took her religious vows as Sister Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament in 1928, when she was 22.
Messenger of Mercy
She traveled as a cook to several convents, but began to show signs of illness, so she eventually returned to the convent in Warsaw. In 1931, Jesus appeared to Faustina again, as the image we know as the Divine Mercy. In this vision, Jesus asked her to tell the world about God’s mercy and be mercy to others. He also told her to pain the image with the words, “Jesus, I trust in You.”
She tried to find someone in the convent to paint the image, but it took three years to find someone who could do it. She then took her final vows in 1933. After taking her vows, she met Fr. Michael Sopocko, who became a supporter of her visions (after he made her be evaluated, ha!). He told her to keep a diary of her visions of Jesus and Fr. Sopocko began to preach about Divine Mercy in 1935.
Mercy Increased, She Decreased
Over the next few years, she wrote about the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Novena of Divine Mercy, and the Divine Mercy image became very popular. However, her health also declined over those years. She died in 1938 (at only 33!).
In 1965, Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow (and later Pope St. John Paul II, of course!) opened a cause for her canonization. She was canonized by him, when he was Pope, in 2000 and her feast day is October 5.
Why a Diary?
St. Faustina had many visions of Christ, during which He requested she record in her diary that they might be shared. Today, the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska is the primary document outlining the message of Divine Mercy, famous for sparking the frequent use of the phrase, “Jesus I trust in You.”
Who would be friends with St. Faustina?
- Those who are ill
- Religious sisters
- Those seeking a religious vocation, but denied/delayed entry
- Those in need of mercy
- The Polish
- Patrons of art
Love endures everything, love is stronger than death, love fears nothing.St. Faustina