Divine Mercy Devotion - A Short History
On February 21, 1931 a young Polish nun, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, saw a vision of Jesus with rays of mercy streaming from the area of his Heart. He told her to have an image painted to represent this vision and to sign it "Jesus, I trust in You".
Calling her His Apostle and Secretary of Divine Mercy, He ordered her to begin writing a diary so that others would come to know and trust in Him. In a series of revelations that followed between 1931 and 1938, He taught that His mercy is unlimited and available to even the greatest sinners. He revealed special ways for people to respond to His mercy in their lives and He gave her several promises for those who trust in His mercy and show mercy to others. By the time of Sister Faustina's death in 1938, devotion to the Divine Mercy had already begun to spread through Eastern Europe.
In July of 1940, Father Joseph Jarzebowski, a Polish Marian priest fleeing from war-torn Poland, prayed to the merciful Saviour to help him escape, vowing to spend the rest of his life spreading the Divine Mercy Devotion. He arrived safely on American soil in 1941 and Marian communities of Detroit and Washington D.C. were soon distributing Mercy of God materials. In 1944, a group of Marians opened a new house and apostolate on Eden Hill in Stockbridge Massachusetts and began spreading the Divine Mercy Devotion on a large scale. In 1960, the Marians completed the construction of a shrine which has become the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy and the apostolate has become the Marian Helpers Center, a religious publishing house.
The process for the beatification of Sister Faustina was begun in 1966. On March 7 of 1992, in the presence of the Holy Father, the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints promulgated the Decree of Heroic Virtues, by which the Church acknowledges that Sister Faustina practised all the Christian virtues to a heroic degree. On December 21, 1992, a healing (Maureen Digan) through Sister Faustina's intercession was declared a miracle and on April 18 of 1993 (Mercy Sunday), she was declared Blessed.
Just before this declaration, the Canadian Divine Mercy Centre was established as a distribution centre. In 1996, we moved to the Lanark Highlands to set up a permanent home for Divine Mercy in Canada. The wooded property, guest house, outdoor Stations of the Cross Trail, well-stocked spiritual library and private prayer Oratory provide the opportunity for many visitors to find peace and spiritual renewal in these troubled times.
Another miraculous healing (Father Ron Pytel) was used to finalize the process for Sister Faustina's canonization. On April 30 of 2000 (the Jubilee Year), Pope John Paul II declared the first Saint of the New Millennium - Saint Maria Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament and also decreed Divine Mercy Sunday as a universal Feast of the Church.