Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament was born Helena Kowalska in Poland August 25, 1905, the third of 10 children.
She felt the calling to the religious life when she was seven during the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. In 1924 Faustina would have her first vision of Jesus. He instructed her to enter a convent in Warsaw. After being rejected by a number of convents in Warsaw she was accepted to the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. At 20 years of age she took the name Sister Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament.
On February 22, 1931 Sister Faustina was visited by Jesus, who presented himself as the “King of Divine Mercy.” In her diary, she wrote, “In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'" In her diary Sister Faustina also said that Jesus wanted the Divine Mercy image to be "solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy."
Faustina died October 5, 1938. In 1965, Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, who would later become Pope John Paul II, opened up the first investigations into Faustina's life and virtues. 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.
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