On 5 October last the Universal Church celebrated the feast day of the widely venerated Saint Maria Faustina. The incredible story of Helena Kowalska began with her birth in 1905 in Poland. Helen was accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, which she entered in 1925, taking her new name, Sister Faustina.
From 1931, Sister Faustina experienced several apparitions of Christ, through which He revealed His Divine Mercy. With the help of Father Michael Sopoćko the devotion to the Divine Mercy began. The famous image of Divine Mercy (see above) was painted under the instruction of Sister Faustina and she wrote instructions for a Novena of the Divine Mercy, which was published in the final year of her life. Sister Faustina died on 5 October 1938.
Sister Faustina was beatified on 18 April 1993 and canonized on 30 April 2000 by Pope John Paul II, who also established Divine Mercy Sunday as a feast day for the entire Church, which falls on the Second Sunday of the Easter season. On that day, John Paul II declared, “This is the happiest day of my life.” Remarkably, five years later, the Polish Pope died on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, 2 April 2005.
Today, in Ireland, many people have a deep devotion to Saint Faustina and to the Divine Mercy. The saint’s prayer of the Divine Mercy Chaplet holds a special place amongst the faithful, especially when praying for the sick and dying. The role of the Divine Mercy Apostolate is to tell the world about the Devotion to Divine Mercy and God’s message to Saint Faustina that His Mercy is infinite, incomprehensible and unfathomable