SAINT SISTER FAUSTINA KOWALSKA
Głogowiec - the place of birth of Sr. Faustina
Sister Faustina with her family (1935)
In the DIARY she wrote about her experiences from her childhood:
At the age of sixteen she left her family home for nearby city of Aleksandrów, and then moved to Łódź, where she worked as a servant to support herself and to help her parents. During this period the desire to join a convent was gradually growing inside her. Since her parents were against it, young Helena tried to deaden the God’s call.
St. Stanislaus Kostka Cathedral Church, where Jesus called St. Faustina to the religious life
The general house of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy joined
In her DIARY she described her feelings when joining the convent:
Upon joining the Congregation, Helena took the name Sister Mary Faustina. She completed her probation time in Cracow where, in the presence of Bishop Stanislaus Rospond, she took her initial religious vows, and five years later, perpetual vows professing chastity, poverty and obedience. She was assigned to work in various houses of the Congregation, spending her longest periods of time in Cracow, Płock and Vilnius, working as a cook, gardener and doorkeeper. Her extraordinarily rich mystical life was not visible to others in the convents or outside. She passionately fulfilled her duties and faithfully observed all the monastic rules. She was focused and silent, but at the same time, natural and cheerful, full of a kind and unselfish love for her neighbours. Her rigorous lifestyle and exhausting fasting, which she was undertaking even before joining the Congregation, weakened her body to such an extent that already during her postulantship it became necessary to send her for treatment.
After her first year in novitiate, she went through unusually painful mystic experiences: her so-called "dark night", and then, further spiritual and moral sufferings related to fulfilling the mission she was given by Lord Jesus. Sister Faustina sacrificed her life for sinners to save their souls and underwent a diverse range of sufferings. During the final years of her life, her health deteriorated significantly: she developed tuberculosis which attacked her lungs and gastrointestinal tract. As a result, she underwent two periods of hospital treatment, each lasting a few months.
Physically totally ravaged, but spiritually entirely mature being mystically united with God, she died in Cracow-Łagiewniki on October 5, 1938 in the odour of sanctity, having lived for only 33 years, including 13 years of monastic life. (See annotation of the Saint Faustina’s DIARY)
The house of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Płock, Stary Rynek 14/18,
The house of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, Vilnius, 29 Grybo Street,
The house of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow - Łagiewniki (Poland),
The ceremony of canonization of Sister Faustina Kowalska.
On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized the apostle of Divine Mercy - Sister Faustina Kowalska. The canonization ceremony took place at the Vatican, on the second Sunday of Easter, the Sunday that was instituted by the Pope as the Feast of Divine Mercy for the entire Church.
MY MEMORIES OF THE LATE SISTER FAUSTINA
(…) On getting to know Sister Faustina better, I discerned that the gifts of the Holy Spirit worked within her in hiding, but quite often they appeared openly, granting partially the intuition that was overwhelming her soul in a lively manner, arousing surges of love and solemn heroic acts of sacrifice and self-denial. What appeared particularly often was the influence of the gifts of understanding, knowledge and wisdom that allowed Sister Faustina to see clearly the banality of earthly matters and importance of suffering and humiliations. In a simple way, she learnt the attributes of God and, most of all, His infinite Mercy.
On another occasion, she was gazing at the unreachable, beatific light; for some time she kept her gaze fixed at that extremely saving light, out of which emerged a figure of walking Christ, blessing the world with His right hand, and with His left hand lifting His robe around His heart. Two rays gushed out of the open robe – one red and one white. Sister Faustina kept having such visions, and other sensual and mental visions, for several years. She also heard supernatural words, captured by her sense of hearing, her imagination and her mind.
For fear of Sister Faustina having illusions, hallucinations or being deluded, I turned to Mother Superior, Mother Irena, to inform me who Sister Faustina was and what reputation she enjoyed among the Sisters and Superiors in the Congregation. I also requested that her mental and physical health be examined. Having received favourable opinions about her in every aspect, for some time I still took an expectant position. To some extend I did not believe. I was deliberating, praying and examining, as well as asking some wise priests for advice on what to do, without revealing what and who it concerned. This concerned the fulfillment of the alleged, firm demands of the Lord Jesus to paint that picture Sister Faustina kept seeing and to establish the feast of Divine Mercy on the first Sunday following Easter.
Led more by curiosity of what the picture would look like rather than belief in the authenticity of Sister Faustina's visions, I decided to arrange the painting of the picture. I contacted an artist, Eugeniusz Kazimirowski*, who lived in the same house where I lived. He undertook the task of painting the picture for a certain amount of money.
(…) The work lasted a few months and finally, in June or July 1934, the picture was completed. Sister Faustina complained that the picture was not as beautiful as she saw it, but the Lord Jesus comforted her and said it was enough as it was, and He added: "I am giving people a vessel with which they are to come to me for graces. That vessel is this image with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You”.
(…) She foretold in detail difficulties and even persecutions that I was to encounter because of spreading the cult of Divine Mercy and trying to establish the Feast of this name on Low Sunday. It was easier to bear that knowing that from the beginning it was the will of God.
*Marcin Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, son of August and Maria née Kossakowska, was born in 1873 in Wygnanka, Podole region, and died in 1939 in Białystok. From 1892 to 1897 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow under F. Cynk, I, Jabłoński and W. Łuszczakiewicz and at the studios of T. Axentowicz and L. Wyczółkowski. From 1897 he also studied in Munich under A. Azbe and J.C. Heiterlich, and in Paris under J. Bail, and in 1898/99 in Cracow at the Academy of Fine Arts, and at the studio of L. Wyczółkowski. After 1915 he was a long-term teacher at the Teacher’s College in Vilnius and scene painter at the Grand Theatre and Polish Theatre in Vilnius. He painted numerous portraits and religious paintings. In 1934, at the request of Father Sopoćko, he painted the first image of Merciful Jesus according to the instructions of Saint Faustina.
A an excerpt from the manuscript of DIARY of Saint Sister Faustina
The monument of Saint Sister Faustina at the Niepodległości Square in Łódź
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