Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Mary Faustyna Kowalska is not only known for her pious life, that she led in a convent in Krakow, but especially for the image of Divine Mercy that was painted according to her visions of Jesus Christ. Apart from this the followers and people interested in her biography can read the diary that she wrote.
She was born in 1905 as Helena – third out of ten children in the family of Kowalskis. Already at the age of 7 she felt vocation what she revealed to her parents about 10 years later. Helena’s parents were against her becoming a nun. Although she was very obedient daughter, she moved out from home in 1924 and head to Warsaw to search for an appropriate convent. Eventually she was accepted in Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and initiated in 1926 with the name Maria Faustyna of the Blessed Sacrament.
Faustyna’s rich spiritual life was a problem to her confessors. On request of one of them, she started to lead a diary (despite her limited literacy). She would describe in it her mystic experiences and her later visions. According to the diary Faustyna’s 1st (and probably the most important) vision took place in 1931. She claimed that Jesus Christ appeared to her, with his right hand raised in a sign of blessing as his left hand was touching a garment at the breast, and ordered the Divine Mercy depiction to be painted and the holiday of Divine Mercy to be established.
Faustyna visited Eugeniusz Kazimirowski – the painter who afterwards depicted Jesus Christ of Divine Mercy according to her description – for the first time in 1934. She also applied for creating new convent that would focus on prayers for sinners asking for mercy for the whole world. Her wish was realized after her death by Micha│ SopoŠko – the very same priest that ordered Faustyna to lead a diary.
Faustyna suffered from tuberculosis and would frequently get sick. Ordinary cold would last for a month. She died in 1938 in Krakow and was buried nearby the cloister in Lagiewniki-Krakow (nowadays the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy where the modern basilica was built between 1999 and 2002).
The diary was published under the title ‘Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of St. Faustyna’. In spite of her poor educational background it surprises with beautiful and rich language of mysticism. It is thought to be a masterpiece of Polish literature of the interwar period.
Saint Faustyna was beatified in 1993 and canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II. Her diary was translated into numerous foreign languages. The depict of Jesus Christ Merciful is nowadays known in many countries.