Divine Mercy – Kraków, Poland
“You have to speak to the world about His great mercy and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Him who will come, not as a merciful Savior, but as a just Judge. Oh, how terrible is that day! Determined is the day of justice, the day of divine wrath. The angels tremble before it. Speak to souls about this great mercy while it is still the time for mercy….”
A year later, following Our Lady’s appearance in Banneux, Christ entrusted a message of great importance to a young woman named Helena Kowalska. The third of ten children, she was born in Poland on August 25, 1905. At the age of 20 she received her habit in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, taking the name Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament.
During the course of her short lifetime she experienced numerous visions of both Christ and His Mother. Sr. Faustina wrote in her diary that on the night of February 22, 1931, while she was in her cell [room] in the convent, Jesus appeared to her as the King of Divine Mercy. He was wearing a white garment with rays of white and red lights emanating from near His heart.
He said to her: “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” (Diary, 47-48). “The two rays denote blood and water…These rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter” (Diary, 299).
“I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy, I want this image…to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy” (Diary, 49). Then, He added: “At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the indulgence is the same. When this chaplet is said by the bedside of a dying person, God’s anger is placated, unfathomable mercy envelops the soul, and the very depths of My tender mercy ore moved for the sake of the sorrowful Passion of My Son” (Diary, 811).
Sr. Faustina approached some of the other nuns at the convent but received no assistance concerning the painting of the image. Three years later she was assigned to Vilnius where the first artistic rendering of the image was performed under her direction.
In the summer of 1934, Sr. Faustina made a most important entry in her diary wherein Christ told her: “Write this: before I come as the Just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy. Before the day of justice arrives, there will be given to people a sign in the heavens of this sort: All light in the heavens will be extinguished, and there will be great darkness over the whole earth.
“Then, the sign of the cross will be seen in the sky and, from the openings where the hands and the feet of the Savior were nailed, will come forth great lights which will light up the earth for a period of time. This will take place shortly before the last day” (Diary, 42).
On March 25, 1936, Our Lady appeared to her and said: “Oh, how pleasing to God is the soul that follows faithfully the inspirations of His grace! I gave the Savior to the world; as for you, you have to speak to the world about His great mercy and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Him who will come, not as a merciful Savior, but as a just Judge.
‘Oh, how terrible is that day! Determined is the day of justice, the day of divine wrath. The angels tremble before it. Speak to souls about this great mercy while it is still the time for [granting] mercy…Fear nothing. Be faithful to the end. I sympathize with you” (Diary, 635).
On Good Friday March 26, 1937, Christ appeared to Sr. Faustina and asked her to recite a chaplet for nine days. The following prayer was to be recited on the large beads: “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world” and, on the smaller beads, “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world” (Diary, 476).
The Great War
Shortly before her death, Sr. Faustina predicted: “There will be a war, a terrible, terrible war.” She then asked the nuns to pray for Poland. By 1939, the year following Faustina’s death, aware that her predictions about the war had taken place, the archbishop allowed public access to the Divine Mercy image.
The large crowds that resulted hastened the spread of the Divine Mercy devotion. It became a source of strength and inspiration for many people in Poland who would have much to endure through the horrendous occupations by both the Nazis and Russians. By 1941, the devotion reached the shores of the United States.
Thirteen years after entering the convent, Sr. Faustina made her final confession. She died in Krakow on October 5, 1938 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000 – the first saint of the 21st century.
A year later, on April 22, 2001, St. John Paul II said: “It is a great joy for me to be able to join all of you…to commemorate, after one year, the canonization of Sr. Faustina Kowalska. Indeed, the message she brought is the appropriate and incisive answer that God wanted to offer to the questions and expectations of human beings in our time, marked by terrible tragedies. Jesus told Sr. Faustina one day: “Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy” (Diary, 699).”
The Unresolved Apparitions
At this time we venture into an area wherein Our Lady’s apparitions are still ongoing. Inasmuch as the Church has not, as yet, made a definitive judgment as to their authenticity, one must carefully study those under investigation. One must remain open to the Church’s wisdom regarding these matters.
Should any of these apparitions eventually prove to be erroneous, that would not discredit the other places Our Lady has graced with her visits and it would not affect the eventual outcome of her plans for the salvation of the world.
Since Beauraing and Banneux, she has provided us with additional details in order to help us understand the present day situation and its consequences. None of the statements made at these later appearances are contrary to Church teaching. Should they ever prove to be erroneous, we may be certain the Church will not hesitate to condemn them as unworthy of belief.
If these words are truly from Heaven and do not conflict with Church teaching we best heed what she is trying so earnestly to tell us. We would do well to recall those words spoken by Pope Pius IX on July 18, 1851, upon reading the secrets of La Salette. He summed up the messages by declaring: “If we do not pray we shall all perish!”