On International Women’s Day, Let's Talk About St. Faustina

On International Women’s Day, make sure the female saints aren’t forgotten. Read about them, share their stories, and practice the devotions and works of mercy they’ve helped make famous. Remember especially St. Faustina, the Secretary and Apostle of Divine Mercy.

By Chris Sparks

One of the most remarkable women of the 20th century is also one of the most overlooked on International Women’s Day (March 8): Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938).

She is one of the most successful women authors in the world without having ever sought publication for her Diary, and with less than two years of formal education at any level.

She launched one of the most influential mass movements in Catholic Church history, or in Christian history, for that matter, one with adherents across denominations, even though she spent most of her adult life in the convent.

She is a canonized saint of the Catholic Church, and in her writings is recorded these words of Jesus: “You will prepare the world for My final coming” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 429).

Her achievements are extraordinary. Her influence is on par with many of the greatest male and female saints of the Catholic Church, and exceeds those of many men and women in and outside of the Catholic Church. 

So why is it so hard today to get St. Faustina a fair hearing?

Catholic prophet
Well, the modern world isn’t really a fan of Catholic prophets, particularly Catholic prophets who proclaim the evils of abortion, the importance of reparation for sin, or the reality of the four last things. Saint Faustina’s life and writings are a massive weight of evidence for the existence of the supernatural, that God isn’t simply in His Heaven, but rather very actively present here in the Eucharist, the ministry of the Catholic priest, in His Word and His Church, and invisibly walks alongside us all.

The modern world believes secularism is reasonable, and the sort of supernatural worldview plain in the pages of St. Faustina’s Diary must be evidence of madness or blind belief. They don’t know what to do with eyewitness accounts, save play them late at night with dramatic music and lump them together with aliens, Bigfoot, or conspiracy theories.

And yet St. Faustina was examined by psychological experts in her own lifetime at the behest of Blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko, who certified her sanity. Her life was accompanied by miracles, and her death has been the prelude to the massive growth of her influence. She stands as a sign of contradiction of materialism, of the careless assurance with which the agnostic or the atheist presumes there is no good evidence for the existence of God or of non-material realities.

She is in many ways an impossible woman, contradictory, stubborn. She does not yield to being dismissed.

Pilgrim testimonies
One of the great privileges that has accompanied working here at the Marian Helpers Center on the grounds of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy has been hearing the testimonies of pilgrims who’ve come here to say thank you for graces received. I have met men and women after the miracles have happened, folks who are tearful, or awestruck, or determined to share what happened because people have to know.

We’ve never been short of such stories for Marian Helper magazine, the newsletters, or the web. It’s been an ongoing stream over the years — a remarkable testament to the truth of St. Faustina’s private revelation, to the power of the Divine Mercy message and devotion, and to the love of God for all of His children.

Saint Faustina’s place in history is written in the miracles experienced by so many since she died. It is written in the converts, in the ministries and apostolates, in the religious orders and lay movements, in the prayer groups and cenacles, in the hearts touched, lives changed, and Church renewed in light of her work, her words, her faithful transmission of what Heaven gave to her for herself and for the entire world.

Female saints are not forgotten
On International Women’s Day, March 8, make sure the female saints aren’t forgotten. Read about them, share their stories, and practice the devotions and works of mercy they’ve helped make famous.

Remember especially St. Faustina, the Secretary and Apostle of Divine Mercy. Thank her for the gifts she’s given us, and make a commitment to do your part to carry on her work.

Saint Faustina Kowalska, pray for us!

Chris Sparks is the author of the Marian Press book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question.
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