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Pilgrimage
Saint Faustyna Kowalska

Saint Faustyna Kowalska
"You are a witness of my mercy and forever you shall stand in front of my throne, as a living witness of my mercy."
"The Diary" p. 417

Faustyna Kowalska was born on 25th of August 1905 as the third of ten children of Marianna and Stanislaw in the village Glogowiec. Her family was poor but full of faith and trust in God. She was baptised in a church in Swinice Warckie and she received her second name Helena. Her education at school lasted only three years because of the difficult living conditions of her family. She started to work in Aleksandrow Kujawski and later in Lodz. Since her childhood, she has shown great devotion, will to pray and obedience. She first thought of joining a convent just before her First Communion. Her parents did not approve that idea and Helena continued to work in order to support her family. Her attempts to suppress God's calling and returning visions of suffering Christ kept on pushing her to join a convent, so despite her parents' will (they saw her visions as fantasies of a growing up girl) she joined the Convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw at the age of twenty. There she received the name Maria Faustyna and later she went to Krakow to finish her two-year novitiate. Despite her poor health, on 30th of April 1933 in the presence of bishop Stanislaw Rospond, she made her monastic vows.

She worked in several houses of the Convent, spending the longest periods of that time in Krakow, Plock and Wilno and serving as a cook, gardener and gatekeeper. Harsh living environment, exhausting, long fasts, which she put on herself before joining the convent have weakened her body so much, that she had to be sent to Skolimow near Warsaw in order to save what was left of her health. Her health condition deteriorated and tuberculosis developed in her organism, attacking her lungs and digestive system. Because of that, she was treated in the hospital in Pradnik, Krakow.

Her health problems were accompanied by the suffering from her mystical experiences. On Sunday, 22nd of February 1931, in her cell, she saw Jesus for the first time. He was dressed in white robe with his right hand up and left hand touching the breast, from which two big, red and white rays shone down. Christ said "Make a painting of the picture you see and write the words "Jesus, I trust You". I want this painting to be worshipped in your shrine and I want it to be seen by the entire world". In the beginning of 1934, Faustyna asked the painter by the name of Eugeniusz Kazimierski to complete the painting of the Divine Mercy for her. Each of her visions brought new teachings from Jesus. Those included making the first Sunday after the Easter the day of celebration of the Divine Mercy. Jesus also dictated the words of the rosary to the Divine Mercy and asked to pray in the hour of his dying on the cross. Faustyna's life and deeds are best known from her Diary, which she wrote regularly, keeping the record of everything Jesus told her. She also described her meetings with the Holy Mother, the angels and the saints. "The Diary" is the only mystical literary work written in Polish. It was written during the last four years of sister Faustyna's life and it consists of six, handwritten notebooks. It is very similar in form to the confessions of saint Teresa from Avilia.

After a long period of suffering, which she accepted very patiently and humbly, Faustyna Kowalska died at the age of 33, on 5th of October 1938. Her body was buried on the monastic cemetery in Lagiewniki, Krakow. Sister Faustyna was beatificated on 18th of April 1993 and was officially announced a saint on 30th of April 2000. Her canonization was held on the second Sunday of the Easter, which was proclaimed the day of celebration of the Divine Mercy. Relics of saint sister Faustyna are stored in the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Krakow, Lagiewniki, visited by thousands of pilgrims each year.

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