October 5th is the feast day of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. Born Helena Kowalksa in Poland on August 25, 1905, she was the third of 10 children raised by a poor and devout family. After feeling the call to religious life at the young age of seven while attending the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, she discerned religious life and entered a convent at the age of 20.
Although she is well known for her devotion to Jesus and His Divine Mercy, Saint Faustina also experienced incredible visions and continued to foster a love of Christ in the Eucharist during her time at the convent. Here are some things you might now know about Saint Faustina.
1. Saint Faustina saw visions of Heaven
In addition to Saint Faustina’s visions of Christ’s Divine Mercy, the saint was also granted visions of the final resting place of Heaven. Writing about her experience viewing Heaven, the saint wrote: “I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom.”
2. In her visions of Purgatory, Saint Faustina saw the mercy of the Blessed Virgin Mary
During a vision, Saint Faustina spoke with souls in Purgatory. She wrote about her experience, saying, “I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God.”
In the vision, Saint Faustina also saw something beautiful – Our Lady tending to the souls in Purgatory. In her diary, she wrote, “I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in purgatory. The souls call her ‘The Star of the Sea.’ She brings them refreshment.”
3. In a vision of souls suffering in Hell, Saint Faustina saw seven kinds of suffering
In a vision, Saint Faustina was led by an angel into the depths of Hell. She writes about being surprised how large Hell was. She went on to describe the seven types of suffering and torture she witnessed:
“The first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; The second is perpetual remorse of conscience; The third is that one’s condition will never change; The fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it – a terrible suffering, since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger; The fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and, despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own; The sixth torture is the constant company of Satan; The seventh torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.”
4. Saint Faustina pitied those who do not believe in God or the possibility of Heaven
After her visions of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, Saint Faustina wrote in her diary: “O my God, how I pity those people who do not believe in eternal life; how I pray for them that a ray of mercy would envelop them too, and that God would clasp them to His fatherly bosom.”
5. Saint Faustina tried to create the image of Diviner Mercy herself
Even though she didn’t know how to paint, Saint Faustina attempted to sketch the vision of Christ with charcoal and canvas, but she didn’t have much success. She turned to Our Lord for help and He told her that he would send her “visible help” with the task of creating the image. Shortly afterward, she was sent to a convent in Vilnius to work as a gardener.
While at Vilnius, she met Father Michael Sopocko, who had been recently appointed as a confessor for the nuns in the convent. He listened to Faustina’s story about the vision of Divine Mercy and her desire to create an image of Christ. He contacted the artist Eugene Kazimierowski, who painted the first image of Divine Mercy for Saint Faustina.
Though it’s not the most popular image of Divine Mercy, the above image is the painting originally based on Saint Faustina’s vision from 1931. Christ is shown raising his hand in blessing, while also pointing to the two rays that flow from his chest. One of the rays is red, which symbolizes the blood of Jesus. The white ray symbolizes the water that saves souls. The entire image brings to mind charity, forgiveness, and God’s incredible love for His children. Saint Faustina describes God’s love as a “Fountain of Mercy.”
6. Souls that venerate the image of Divine Mercy will not perish
In her diary, Saint Faustina recorded the words of Christ regarding the image. She wrote: “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 48)
7.Within 13 years of Saint Faustina’s death, there were 150 religious centers dedicated to Divine Mercy in Poland
After Saint Faustina’s death, the Divine Mercy devotion spread quickly. By 1951, over 150 religious centers dedicated to Divine Mercy could be found in Poland. In 1955, a Polish bishop even started a religious congregation dedicated to the spreading of the Divine Mercy devotion.
8. A Cardinal tried to suppress devotion to Divine Mercy
Not everyone in Rome approved of the devotion to the Divine Mercy. The head of the Holy Office – Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani – petitioned Pope Pius XII to sign a condemnation of Saint Faustina’s work and visions, but he was denied.
9. Saint Pope John Paul II called Saint Faustina “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.”
On Divine Mercy Sunday, 2000, Saint Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Faustina. He approved of the message of Divine Mercy and declared that the Catholic Church would celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter as “Divine Mercy Sunday.”
During his homily, he said, “By this act of canonization of Saint Faustina, I intend today to pass this message on to the third millennium. I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of God and the true face of their neighbor. In fact, love of God and love of one’s neighbor are inseparable.”
10. Saint Faustina prayed a litany to the Sacred Host
During the last hours of 1934, St. Faustina prayed a litany to Christ’s true presence in the Eucharistic host. The prayer reads as follows:
O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the testament of God’s mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.
O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus as proof of infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.
O Blessed Host, in whom is contained life eternal and of infinite mercy, dispensed in abundance to us and especially to poor sinners.
O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the mercy of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit toward us, and especially toward poor sinners.
O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the infinite price of mercy which will compensate for all our debts, and especially those of poor sinners.
O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the fountain of living water which springs from infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.
O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the fire of purest love which blazes forth from the bosom of the Eternal Father, as from an abyss of infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.
O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the medicine for all our infirmities, flowing from infinite mercy, as from a fount, for us and especially for poor sinners.
O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the union between God and us through His infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.
O Blessed Host, in whom are contained all the sentiments of the most sweet Heart of Jesus toward us, and especially poor sinners.
O Blessed Host, our only hope in all the sufferings and adversities of life.
O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of darkness and of storms within and without.
O Blessed Host, our only hope in life and at the hour of our death.
O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of adversities and floods of despair.
O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of falsehood and treason.
O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of the darkness and godlessness which inundate the earth.
O Blessed Host, our only hope in the longing and pain in which no one will understand us.
O Blessed Host, our only hope in the toil and monotony of everyday life.
O Blessed Host, our only hope amid the ruin of our hopes and endeavors.
O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of the ravages of the enemy and the efforts of hell.
O Blessed Host, I trust in You when the burdens are beyond my strength and I find my efforts are fruitless.
O Blessed Host, I trust in You when storms toss my heart about and my fearful spirit tends to despair.
O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my heart is about to tremble and mortal sweat moistens my brow.
O Blessed Host, I trust in You when everything conspires against me and black despair creeps into my soul.
O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my eyes will begin to grow dim to all temporal things and, for the first time, my spirit will behold the unknown worlds.
O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my tasks will be beyond my strength and adversity will become my daily lot.
O Blessed Host I trust in You when the practice of virtue will appear difficult for me and my nature will grow rebellious.
O Blessed Host, I trust in You when hostile blows will be aimed against me.
O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my toils and efforts will be misjudged by others.
O Blessed Host, I trust in You when Your judgments will resound over me; it is then that I will trust in the sea of Your mercy.
Most Holy Trinity, I trust in Your infinite mercy. God is my Father and so I, His child, have every claim to His divine Heart; and the greater the darkness, the more complete our trust should be.