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The Divine Mercy

Nov 16, 2015


St. Maria Faustina Kowalska was a Polish nun who lived from 1905-1938.  She had a particularly rich mystical life in which she had an extraordinary union with God.  During her time in the convent, she was filled with special gifts such as revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of our Lord, bilocation, the reading of human souls and the rare gift of mystical espousal and marriage.  Her relationship with God, the Blessed Mother, the angels, the saints and souls in purgatory were as real to her as the world of her human senses. God chose Sister Faustina as the Apostle and Secretary of His mercy so she would share the urgent message of Divine Mercy with our troubled modern world.  Sr. Faustina kept a diary, which was 600 pages in length, of all her encounters with Our Lord.  From this diary we have the Divine Mercy devotion.  


In her diary, Sr. Faustina faithfully wrote down all of the Lord’s wishes and described the encounters between her soul and Him.  She also recorded the various aspects of her mission in her diary.
Our Lord asked Sr. Faustina to do three things for Him:

  1. Remind the world and the Church of the truth of God’s mercy for every human being, as revealed in Holy Scripture.
  2. Entreat Divine Mercy for the whole world, especially for poor sinners, through the practice of new forms of devotion to The Divine Mercy.
  3. Initiate the apostolic movement of Divine Mercy, the followers of which proclaim and entreat Divine Mercy for the world and strive to practice the works of mercy following the example of Sr. Faustina.


Before Sr. Faustina died in 1938 of tuberculosis and many other sufferings, the devotion to Divine Mercy began to spread. During the tragic war years of 1939-1945, it grew in strength as the people of Poland and Lithuania turned to the merciful Savior for comfort and hope.  In 1941, the devotion was brought to the United States from Poland by Fr. Joseph Jarzebowski, who was skeptical at first about the graces received by those who entrusted themselves to Divine Mercy.  But in the spring of 1940 he vowed that if he were to safely reach his fellow Marians in America, he would spend the rest of his life spreading the Divine Mercy message and devotion.  After and extraordinary journey from Poland into Lithuania, then across Russia and Siberia to Vladivostok then to Japan, he arrived in the United States a year later. True to his vow, he immediately began distributing information about the message and devotion with the help of the Felician Sisters and his Marian confreres.

In Sr. Faustina’s diary, she prophesied that the Divine Mercy work would be destroyed. In 1958, her prophecy began to be fulfilled.  The Holy See had received erroneous and confusing translations of Sr. Faustina’s diary entries and, because of the political conditions in Poland at the time, the Holy See was unable to verify the translations.  So the Holy See decided to ban the spread of the devotion in the form that it received.  However, the Marians continued to spread devotion to God’s mercy but, in obedience to Rome, they based the message on Sacred Scripture, the Liturgy, the teachings of the Church and Our Lady’s revelations at Fatima.
It wasn’t until 20 years later that the ban would be lifted, thanks to the intervention of the Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla.  Through his efforts, an Informative Process began in 1965 and its successful outcome led to Sr. Faustina’s Beatification Cause in 1968.  In 1978, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reviewed the original documents and declared the ban on the devotion “no longer binding”. Six months later, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II.  In 1979, the Marians petitioned to spread the devotion in its authentic forms and received a positive reply.  The response from the laity, priests and bishops has been overwhelming and the devotion has grown faster than anyone expected.  
Pope John Paul II wrote his encyclical, “Rich in Mercy”, in 1981.  Sr. Faustina was beatified on April 18, 1993 and she was canonized as the first saint of the Great Jubilee Year on April 30, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
Jesus told Sr. Faustina, “Mankind will not have peace until it turns to My mercy” (Diary 300)

Excerpted from “The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion” by Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC
Marian Press