What is the Devotion to Divine Mercy?

The Image known as Divine Mercy is a relative newcomer on the Catholic devotional scene. It originated with Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), Poland’s “Apostle of the Divine Mercy.” Hired as a domestic servant while a teenager, the “bright lights” she’d seen in prayer from a young age eventually drew her toward religious life. In 1931 Sister Faustina had a vision of Jesus clothed in white, one hand raised in blessing, the other at his breast. From his body two radiant streams flowed, one red, the other pale. Through an artist Faustina felt called to recreate this image with the signature “Jesus, I trust in you.” Pope John Paul II canonized Faustina in 2000 and established the Second Sunday of the Easter season as Divine Mercy Sunday.

A reading for this day reminds us of “the water and the blood” that flowed from the side of Jesus on the cross. The beams of white and red light radiating in the Divine Mercy image are thought to be reminders of the water of baptism, by which the mercy of God redeems us from original sin, and the cup of the Eucharist, Christ’s blood shed for our redemption. On Divine Mercy Sunday we recall how the compassion of God restores us to life through these sacramental actions.

– Alice L. Camille
 (Adapted from Questions Catholics Ask, www.vocationnetwork.org)