Year B – 2nd Sunday of Easter

Year B - 2nd Sunday of Easter

St Faustina and Divine Mercy

(Acts 4:32-35; 1Jn.5:1-6; Jn.20:19-31)

Today, on the Feast of Divine Mercy, let’s hear the story of St Faustina Kowalska.

She was born in Poland in 1905, the third of ten children. Her father was a carpenter; their family was poor.

Faustina always loved Jesus. When she was 7, she wanted to be a nun, but her parents discouraged her, even when she left school. At 19, she saw a vision of Jesus at a dance. She went straight to a church, where Jesus told her to join a convent. That night she packed her bags and left for Warsaw, telling no-one.

She approached several convents there, but they all said no, probably because she was so poor. However, one convent did agree to accept her if she paid for her own habit. So, she worked as a housemaid for a year, saved up and in 1925 joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy.

For 13 years she lived a life of humble service, cooking, cleaning and gardening in Polish and Lithuanian convents. But Jesus had other plans for her. Over several years she had many visions of Jesus, and experienced ecstasies, hidden stigmata and even bilocation. [i]

Jesus wanted Faustina to become the Apostle of Divine Mercy, reminding the world of God’s merciful love and His hope that everyone would trust Him and love their neighbour.

In 1931, Jesus appeared to her as ‘the King of Divine Mercy,’ wearing a white garment with red and white rays streaming from his heart. The white ray, He explained, represents the water of Baptism and Penance which purifies souls. The red stands for the Blood of the Holy Eucharist which is the life of souls.

Year B - 2nd Sunday of Easter 1

He asked her to paint this image, with the words ‘Jesus I trust in you’ below. He wanted this image widely displayed, and promised that anyone venerating it would not perish (Diary, 47, 48). And He wanted the first Sunday after Easter to become the Feast of Divine Mercy.

In 1935, Jesus gave Faustina the words of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a powerful and deeply scriptural prayer that is at the very heart of the Gospels. ‘For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world,’ it implores (Diary, 475). [ii]

In 1937, He gave her the Hour of Mercy prayer. 3.00 pm is the hour of great mercy for the world, Jesus said, when He will allow the faithful to enter into His mortal sorrow. ‘Immerse yourself, even for a brief moment, in my Passion,’ He said. ‘In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of me in virtue of my Passion’ (Diary, 1320). [iii]

Jesus attached great promises to each of these new forms of worship, but only if we genuinely trust God and show mercy to our neighbours.

In 1933, Faustina moved to Vilnius, in Lithuania, where she met Fr Sopocko, who became her confessor. When she revealed her visions to him, he sent her to a psychiatrist. She passed the tests, however, and thereafter Fr Sopocko encouraged her to keep a diary.

The result is the book Divine Mercy in My Soul – 600 pages about God’s love for us and how he wants us to live and pray. [iv]

She struggled to paint the picture Jesus wanted, so Fr Sopocko found another artist. Faustina was never fully satisfied with his work, but Jesus said, ‘the image is never going to be perfect; it’s good enough.’ So, this is the image we see today (Diary, 313).

Year B - 2nd Sunday of Easter 2

Interestingly, when the Divine Mercy image is laid atop the image of the Shroud of Turin, the faces match perfectly.

Sadly, Faustina caught tuberculosis and in 1936 went to a sanatorium in Kraków. Her last two years were filled with prayer, even more intense visions of Jesus, and keeping her diary. She died in October 1938.

Pope St John Paul II canonised her in April 2000, making her the first saint of the 3rd Millennium. He also established the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday, and that’s what we celebrate today.

But why is divine mercy so important? It’s because without God’s mercy, we are all lost. We have all failed God in some way, and yet he wants us with Him in heaven. That really is remarkable.

So, let’s take to heart the words written on every Divine Mercy image: Jesus, I trust in you.




[iv] Sr Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Marian Press, Stockbridge MA, 2007.