“Jesus, I trust in You”, a now familiar message, is from an image is less than 100 years old (1934) and Divine Mercy Sunday has been celebrated for only 20 years! The celebration of the 50 days of Easter continues this Sunday with the message: God loves all and His mercy is greater that sin. Sunday’s feast reminds all to call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through to others. Thus, all will come to share this joy.
The image of Jesus’ Divine Mercy is relatively new in the history of the church having been painted in 1934 and is a representation of a vision of a young Polish nun, Sister Maria Faustina (originally named Helena Kowalska) in 1931. In this vision, Jesus asked her to paint His image. She saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing. His left hand was touching His garment in the area of the Heart, from where two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. Jesus instructed to paint the image with the signature, “Jesus, I trust in You”.
Sister Faustina was a young, uneducated nun in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland during the 1930’s. She came from a poor family that struggled during the years of World War I. She had only three years of simple education, so hers were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden. However, she received extraordinary revelations — or messages — from our Lord Jesus. Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to record these experiences, which she compiled into notebooks which are known today as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. The words are God’s loving message of Divine Mercy; and were published in a book called, Divine Mercy in My Soul.
The Divine Mercy message, devotion and canonization of Saint Faustina was supported and aided throughout the years by Saint Pope John Paul II (formerly known as Karol Wojtyla). The Pope called Saint Faustina “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.” Saint John Paul II published an encyclical letter in 1980 called “Rich in Mercy” that contains key ideas related to the Divine Mercy. Through his efforts, Saint Faustina was canonized on April 30, 2000 and on April 22, 2001, Divine Mercy Sunday was first celebrated (20th Anniversary this year).
The Image of the Divine Mercy
In 1931, our Lord appeared to St. Faustina in a vision. She saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing. His left hand was touching His garment in the area of the Heart, from where two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. She gazed intently at the Lord in silence, her soul filled with awe and great joy. Jesus said to her: Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory (Diary reference, 47-8). I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You (327). I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and throughout the world (47).
St. Faustina asked the Lord about the meaning of the rays in the image. She heard these words in reply:
The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him (299). By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works (742).
According to a Catholic News Agency article, Sister Maria Faustina was in Plock, Poland in 1931 when she saw her first vision. In 1934, she was directed to move to the convent house in Vilnius, Lithuania (450 miles north of Krakow, Poland) where she was advised by her spiritual director Blessed Michael Sopocko to follow the request to recreate the image of Jesus that Sister Faustina had seen in her visions. As such, they directed the painter Eugene Kazimierowski in 1934 to paint the image in Vilnius, and the original painting is still there today in the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. This is called the “Vilnius Divine Mercy Image”.
Another very popular image called the “Krakow Divine Mercy Image” was painted by Adolf Hyla in 1943 to express gratitude for the survival of his family in World War II. This image shows Jesus walking toward, with His eyes looking at, the viewer. His right hand is raised higher in benediction than the original painting. The Krakow Divine Mercy Image has been interpreted as Jesus as a “Divine Physician” walking the earth and healing people, per Wikipedia – see References.
Many different versions of this image are available, but our Lord made it clear that the painting itself is not what is important. Jesus’ words to Sister Faustina were, “Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace” (313).
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy
In her Diary, St. Faustina records the words of Jesus, “Encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you” (1,541). The Chaplet is prayed using ordinary rosary beads. One frequently repeated phrase in the Chaplet is, “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world”.
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The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. – https://www.thedivinemercy.org/
Divine Mercy Image – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_Mercy_image
The Krakow Divine Mercy Image by Adolph Hyla in 1943 – Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, Warsaw, Poland – https://www.faustyna.pl/zmbm/