The Story of St. Faustina
St. Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament was born as Helena Kowalska, in Glogowiec, Poland on August 25, 1905. She was the third of 10 children to a poor and religious family.

After finishing her schooling, Faustina wanted to immediately join a convent. However, her parents refused to let her.  Instead, at 16-years-old, Faustina became a housekeeper to help her parents and support herself.

In 1924, Faustina experienced her first vision of Jesus.  According to Faustina, Jesus instructed her to leave for Warsaw immediately and join a convent.  While in Warsaw, Faustina approached many different convents, but was turned away every time.  She was judged on her appearance and sometimes rejected for poverty.

Finally, the mother superior for the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy decided to take in Faustina on the condition that she could pay for her own religious habit.  Working as a housekeeper, Faustina began to save her money and make deposits to the Convent.

On April 30, 1926, at 20-years-old, she finally received her habit and took the religious name of Sister Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament and in 1928, she took her first religious vows as a nun.  In 1930, she began to show the first signs of her illness and was sent away to recover. 

On February 22, 1931, Faustina was visited by Jesus, who presented himself as the "King of Divine Mercy"wearing a white garment with red and pale rays coming from his heart. She was asked to become the apostleand secretary of God's mercy, a model of how to be merciful to others.  In this encounter, Jesus said toFaustina, “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription:  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Faustina, not knowing how to paint, asked around her convent for help but was denied. It wasn't until three years later, in 1934, that the first painting of the image was created by Eugene Kazimierowski.
On May 1, 1933 she took her final vows and became a perpetual sister of Our Lady of Mercy.
After taking her vows, Faustina was transferred to Vilnius, where she met Father Michael Sopocko, the appointed confessor to the nuns. During her first confession with Sopocko, Faustina told him about her conversations with Jesus and his plan for her. Father Sopocko insisted she be evaluated by a psychiatrist.  Faustina passed all the required tests and was determined sane, leading Sopocko to support her religious efforts.
In September 1935, Faustina wrote about her vision of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, used to obtain mercy, trust in Christ's mercy and to show mercy to others.  In 1936, Faustina fell ill again.
Faustina's health significantly deteriorated by the end of 1937, and on October 5, 1938, at the age of 33, Faustina passed away.  She was laid to rest in the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland.
In 1965, Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, who would later become St. Pope John Paul II, opened up the first investigations into Faustina's life.  He submitted a number of documents on her life to the Vatican and requested the official beatification process to start.
One of his documents noted the case of Maureen Digan of Massachusetts.  In March 1981, Digan reported she was healed from Lymphedema after praying at Faustina's tomb. She explained, while there, she heard a voice saying, "Ask for my help and I will help you," and her pain stopped. After returning to the United States, five different doctors all reported she was healed with no medical explanation.  In 1992, the Vatican declared Digan's case miraculous.
St. Faustina Kowalska was beatified on April 18, 1993 and canonized on April 30, 2000, both by Pope St. John Paul II. Her feast day is celebrated on October 5 and she is the patron saint of Mercy. 
St. Faustina:  Prophet of Mercy


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