Saint Faustina (1905-1938)
Saint Faustina was born Helena Kowalska in the village of Glogowiec near Lodz, Poland, one of ten children. At the age of twenty she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. In 1934, at the direction of her spiritual director, Sister Faustina began a diary. The diary, Divine Mercy in my Soul, contained accounts of profound revelations and extraordinary spiritual experiences. It defines her mission, to announce anew the Gospel message of the Lord's mercy and to set forth new forms of devotion to God as Mercy for everyone.
Her diary reveals her mystical experiences. On June 4, 1937 she recorded: Today is the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. During Holy Mass I was given the knowledge of the Heart of Jesus and of the nature of the fire of love with which He burned for us and how He is an ocean of mercy. Then I heard a voice: " Apostle of My mercy, proclaim to the whole world My unfathomable mercy." Sister Faustina was urged in these revelations to serve as "Secretary of My mercy."
Sister Faustina died of TB in 1938 on the eve of World War II, whose atrocities she had foretold to her sisters. The Devotion to the Divine Mercy spread rapidly throughout Poland, where it penetrated into the horrendous prison camps, and with refugees to all parts of the world.
Though prohibited by Church authorities for a while - as she had foretold to her spiritual director - the devotion was again permitted in 1978. Six months later Pope John Paul II who was the Champion of her cause became Pope. In 1980 Pope John Paul ll published the encyclical Dives in Misericordia.
The Pope said, "Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter's See in Rome, I considered this message my special task." On April 30, 2000, The Holy Father canonized Sister Faustina on the Feast of Divine Mercy.
The process culminating in the canonization of Sister Faustina Kowalska, commenced twenty seven years after her death in Krakow Poland, in 1938. As part of the process leading to her canonization, two cases of miraculous healings were presented for consideration. The first one was the healing of Maureen Digan of Massachusetts. The second miracle was the healing of a congenital heart condition of Father. Pytel after prayers done by members of his parish during the anniversary of Sister Faustina's death on October 5, 1995.
On April 18, 1993 the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday which is on the first Sunday after Easter Pope John Paul II elevated Sister Faustina to the status of Blessed during the Beatification of this Venerable Servant of God. The square of St. Peter's was packed with supporters of devotion to Divine Mercy . On March 10, 2000, in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, an ordinary public consistory for several causes of canonization was held, in the presence of the Holy Father.
The date for the canonization of Sister Faustina was April 30, 2000 - the first Sunday after Easter - which is Divine Mercy Sunday. Sister Faustina was honoured as the first canonized saint of the new millennium. In 1997 Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Sister Faustina's tomb in Poland, he called her the "the great apostle of Mercy in our day." The Pope said at her tomb, "The message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me..., in a sense it forms the image of my Pontificate."