“Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may only do good things for my neighbors.”
Saint Faustina Kowalska, who carries the title of the “Apostle of Divine Mercy,” was born to a humble, peasant family in Poland in 1905. Heeding to God’s call, Faustina entered the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in 1925.
Throughout her life, Faustina kept a diary where she reported having visions of Jesus and conversations with him. The diary was later published as The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul. Jesus first appeared to Faustina in 1931. He wore a white robe, and a white ray and a red ray flowed from his breast. In this visit and subsequent visits, he told Faustina he wanted the whole church to celebrate the first Sunday after Easter as the Feast of Mercy. At first, Faustina’s efforts were met with ridicule and doubt, but with the help of her spiritual director, Father Michael Sopocko, thousands in Poland were participating in the Divine Mercy movement in four short years.
In 1935, Faustina wrote of a vision of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in her diary. She wrote the purpose of the chaplet’s prayers: to obtain mercy, to trust in Christ’s mercy, and to show mercy to others. Additionally, she wrote the rules for a new contemplative religious congregation devoted to the Divine Mercy. These writings along with her diary prompted cardinals and bishops to write a petition to the Pope that Faustina be made the fourth female doctor of the Church.
Since Faustina’s death to tuberculosis in 1938, the Divine Mercy devotion has grown steadily. By 1941, the devotion had reached the United States and millions of copies of Divine Mercy prayer cards were printed and distributed worldwide. Saint Faustina was canonized on April 30, 2000.
Feast Day: October 5