First Notebook – Notes 1-3 (for paragraphs 1-10)
Abbreviations used in the Footnotes
A.A.S. – Acts of the Apostolic See
A. SF. – Archives of Sister Faustina
A. SF. – Recol. Archives of Sister Faustina; Recollections of people who knew her.
A. SJ-C – Archives of the Society of Jesus – Cracow
A. SMDM-C – Archives of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy-Chronicles
A. SMDM-C and D – Archives of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy – Chronicles and Death Records
A. SMDM-D – Archives of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy – Death Records
Cf. – confer
Const. Congr. – Constitutions of the Congregation (of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy)
to the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska
of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy
1. On February 22, 1931 , while staying at Plock, Sister Faustina received Jesus’ order to paint a picture according to a model that was shown to her (cf. Diary 47). The Saint tried to fulfill the command, but not knowing painting techniques, she was unable to do it by herself. Still, she did not give up the idea. She kept returning to it and sought help from other sisters and from her confessors.
A few years later her superior sent her to Vilnius (Wilno), where her confessor, Rev. Prof. Michael Sopocko, interested to see what the picture of a hitherto unknown theme would look like, asked the painter Eugene Kazimierowski to paint the picture according to Sister Faustina’s directions. The picture was finished in June 1934 and hung in the corridor of the Bernardine Sisters’ convent near St. Michael’s Church in Vilnius, where Father Sopocko was rector.
In 1935, during the celebrations concluding the jubilee Year of the Redemption of the World, the image of The divine Mercy was transferred to the Ostra Brama [“Eastern Gate” to the city of Vilnius] and placed in a high window so that it could be seen from far away. It was there from April 16 to April 28. By permission of Archbishop Romuald Jalbrzykowski, on April 4, 1937, the image was blessed and placed in St. Michael’s Church in Vilnius.
In 1944, a committee of experts was formed, at the order of Archbishop Jalbrzykowski, to evaluate the image. The experts’ opinion was that the image of The Divine Mercy, painted by E. Kazimierowski was artistically executed and an important contribution to contemporary religious art.
There are several characteristic features of this original image. Against a plain background Christ is shown walking, with a narrow halo around His head, and his eyes slightly downcast, as if He were looking from above at the spectators. His right hand is raised in a gesture of blessing; while His left hand is opening the robe at His Heart (not shown), from which two rays of light issue, a pale one to the viewer’s right, a red one to the left. The light of these rays shines through the hands and the robe.
In 1943, in Lwow, at the request of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, Stanley Batowski painted another image, which was placed in a side altar of the community chapel at No. 3/9 Zytnia Street in Warsaw. During the Warsaw uprising, this chapel (and with it the image) was burned.
Batowski’s image was very much liked by everyone. Encouraged by this, the Superior General of the Community of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy asked Batowski to paint another one for the house in Cracow, where the new form of devotion to The Divine Mercy was already expanding. The image was painted and sent to Cracow on October 6, 1943.
In the meantime, the superior of the Cracow house had been approached by the painter Adolf Hyla, who offered to paint some sort of picture for the sisters’ chapel as a votive offering for having survived the war. The superior, Mother Irene Krzyzanowska, after consulting with the senior sisters and Father Andrasz, S.J., suggested that Mr. Hyla should paint the image according to Sister Faustina’s directions. For that purpose, he was given the description (taken from Sister Faustina’s Diary) along with a small copy of the image painted by Eugene Kazimierowski.
The image was finished in Autumn of 1 943 and brought to the Cracow house. Batowski’s image arrived at the same time. For this reason a problem arose – which of the images should be kept in the sisters’ chapel? It was settled by Cardinal Sapieha, who by chance happened to be present there. He inspected the two pictures and said, “Since Hyla has painted his picture as a votive offering, that picture should stay in the sisters’ chapel.”
He blessed the picture and ordered that it be hung. To this day the picture remains in the side altar to the left of the main entrance, in the Chapel of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy at No. 3/9 Wronia Street in Cracow, and is held in reverence as the image painted under the direction of Sister Faustina Kowalska. People from all over Poland and from abroad come to this image of the Merciful Christ o beg for needed graces. There are many votive offerings, and copies of the image are found all over the world.
S. Batowski’s picture was placed in the Church of The Divine Mercy at Smolensk Street in Cracow. Over the years, many other painters have painted images of The Divine Mercy, based on either existing representations or on Saint Faustina’s diary.
2. That is; in the picture.
3. During her stay in Vilnius, Sister Faustina was told by her confessor, Father Michael Sopocko, to write down her interior experiences.
When asked by someone in the Congregation why Sister Faustina had been writing a diary, Father Sopocko answered: “I was a professor at the Seminary and at the School of Theology of the Stefan Batory University in Vilnius at the time. I had no time to listen to her lengthy confessions at the confessional, so I told her to write everything down and then to show it to me from time to time. This is how the Diary came into being” (Father Sopocko’s letter of March 6, 1972).
Sister Faustina mentions the confessor’s order in numbers 6 and 839 of the Diary.
In addition to this order from her confessor, the Saint mentions, on many pages of her Diary, a distinct command to write, given her by the Lord jesus Himself (see Diary nos. 372, 459, 895, 965, 1 1 42, 1 457, 1 567, 1 665, and others).