The Divine Mercy Connection: Saints Faustina and John Paul II

By Br. Eliot, MIC

The month of October is significant for the Catholic Church. It’s not only the month of the Rosary, but it also celebrates two of the greatest mercy saints in the Liturgy — St. Faustina (Oct. 5) and St. John Paul II (Oct. 22), both patrons of the Marian Congregation. These two saints are connected in many ways. 

The importance of St. Faustina
When Pope John Paul II began to write the 1980 encyclical Dives in Misericordiae (Rich in Mercy), he said that he had been thinking about Faustina for a long time. The Holy Father expressed how important Divine Mercy was for his pontificate when he visited then-Blessed Faustina’s tomb in Krakow-Lagiewniki, Poland, in 1997. There, John Paul II said, “The message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me… in a sense [it] forms the image of this pontificate.” He also expressed that he prays unceasingly that God will “…have mercy on us and on the whole world.” 

There are so many significant connections between St. John Paul II, St. Faustina, and the times we live in today. First, the Church might not even have the devotions to Divine Mercy recorded in Faustina’s Diary if it wasn’t for John Paul II. The Church banned the spreading of the message of Divine Mercy according to St. Faustina in 1959, due to errors in the translation process of Faustina’s Diary. Pope St. John XXIII asked for the bishops of Poland to be consulted because of the errors.

It was Cardinal Karol Wojtyla who began an “informative process” of analyzing the life and virtues of Sr. Faustina in 1965. The success of these efforts led to the inauguration of her beatification cause in 1968. Thanks to Cardinal Wojtyla, the ban on Divine Mercy was completely lifted by Pope St. Paul VI in 1978. Six months after the lifting of the ban, Cardinal Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II.  

‘Love’s second name’
In Dives in Misericordiae, St. John Paul II defined mercy as “love’s second name.” It was John Paul II who beatified Sr. Faustina on April 18, 1993. Seven years later, John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina on April 30, 2000, making her the first saint canonized in the Great Jubilee Year and the third millennium. 

In John Paul II’s homily for Faustina’s canonization Mass, he announced that the Second Sunday of Easter would now be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the universal Church. Thanks to John Paul II, we have the “Feast of Mercy,” the same feast day the Lord requested in His revelations to St. Faustina (see Diary, 280 and 300).

John Paul II said in his homily for Faustina’s canonization, “It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’” 

John Paul II continued to guide the Church further into the mystery of mercy in 2002, when he entrusted the whole world to Divine Mercy. He made this act of entrustment in a homily for the dedication of the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki, Poland. His entrustment was profound: 

How greatly today’s world needs God’s mercy! ... Today, therefore, in this Shrine, I wish solemnly to entrust the world to Divine Mercy. I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through Saint Faustina, may be made known to all the people of the earth and fill their hearts with hope.

Special gift
There you have it: the words of the “Mercy Pope” himself. The story of Faustina and John Paul II is our story as well. The Lord has given us the special gift of His mercy in our own millennium. May we have the courage to follow John Paul II’s example, and pray unceasingly, “have mercy on us and on the whole world.” 

May we continue the mission of Faustina and John Paul II by bringing the message of mercy to the farthest corners of the world. We can do this easily by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and by showing mercy in our words and actions.

Lord, help us to be merciful instruments in Your hands. Amen! 
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