The Shrine of Divine Mercy in Poland
Mercy Sunday, 2021
Since most of us will never have a chance to visit the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Poland, for this Pastor’s Column we will travel there together in words and pictures and see what we can discover about the Mercy of Our Lord.
Quite a few years ago a group of Saint Ed’s pilgrims came to Krakow, Poland, where the international shrine is located. Krakow is the town where Pope John Paul II was archbishop, and his presence is everywhere, including this enormous statue of him blessing the shrine (from the back) taken from the bell tower.
Most real pilgrimages, whether to shrines or in life itself, involve some suffering, and the Lord tested us here. We tired pilgrims discovered on arrival that the bus driver had reached his maximum hours and had to return after only one hour or so. Most decided to return to the hotel, but five of us adventurous souls stayed the day and returned by public transportation. You know which group the pastor stayed with! Who wants to leave a place like this early? Not this pilgrim.
One place of great grace was this beautiful adoration chapel on the grounds. However, it was not a place for quiet prayer! The Chaplet of Mercy seemed to be recited
constantly in here, and no wonder, since from the convent in this place, Sr. Faustina made known the message of God’s mercy to the world!
St. Faustina’s Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. I am certain she will one day be a doctor of the church. There are few books filled with such incredible and practical
wisdom from God, and all this from a nun who never got past the fourth grade! But she faithfully transmitted what Jesus said to her about his mercy. Being as she is a saint-friend of mine, we were thrilled to have celebrated Mass in this chapel dedicated in her honor.
Saint Faustina’s convent, which you can see in this picture, is where she had her visions, and where she suffered so much. Many of the sisters thought she was crazy, or simply not holy enough to be having visions from Our Lord. Saint Faustina teaches constantly about the need for silence.
When one goes in the convent chapel, one discovers that photographs are not allowed (so I don’t have any), but here one finds the original picture of Divine Mercy that Our Lord instructed the saint to paint. This is located on the left side aisle, and below this is a reliquary containing Saint Faustina’s bones. One can kneel here before the image and kiss or touch this reliquary as an act of veneration and contemplate the powerful message of mercy that has emanated from this place and the humble nun through which God chose to speak.
This picture of the shrine in the Basilica of the Divine Mercy shows how immense it really is. It is quite beautiful, and recently constructed (our Mass was in a side chapel more appropriate for a group of 45). The picture of Jesus of Mercy in the center is exceptionally beautiful.
The Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul itself was actually placed on the banned list for a number of years after the saint’s death, primarily due to a mis-translation of the Polish. Fortunately, John Paul II re-read these writings in their original language, realized the problem, and set us on the road that has led to Mercy Sunday today.
One of the most comforting teachings in her writings, now confirmed as accurate by the church, is that each soul at the moment of death and before the individual judgment is offered an opportunity to accept God’s Mercy. Of course, the soul must recognize and say yes to God at this last and crucial moment, but what a comfort to those who have lost a loved one who seemed to be away from God! Even Jesus himself indicated that some sins are forgiven in the next world (Matthew 12:31). Praise God for his infinite mercy!