St. Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Most Blessed Sacrament

The Apostle of Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Vilnius

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Most Blessed Sacrament, commonly known as Saint Faustina, was born in Glogowiec, Poland, on August 25, 1905. The third of ten children from a poor family, Saint Faustina had little formal education, because she had to work to support her family. Having discerned a vocation at a young age (even before making her First Communion), she applied to various convents in Warsaw and was finally accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy on August 1, 1925. On April 30, 1926, she became an initiate, and remained with the Sister of Our Lady of Mercy for the rest of her life.

Quick Facts

  • Feast Day: October 5
  • Type of Feast: Commemoration
  • Dates: August 25, 1905 (Glogowiec, Poland)-October 5, 1938 (Krakow, Poland)
  • Birth Name: Helena Kowalska
  • Patron of: Mercy
  • Beatification: April 18, 1993, by Pope John Paul II
  • Canonization: April 30, 2000 (Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter 2000), by Pope John Paul II
  • Prayers: Divine Mercy Chaplet; Divine Mercy Novena

The Life of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

A biography of Saint Faustina, prepared by the Vatican for her canonization in 2000, notes that the

years she had spent at the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as: revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, or the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage.

Beginning on February 22, 1931, and through her death in 1938, Saint Faustina received revelations and visits from Christ. In 1934, she began recording these in a diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul.

The Origin of the Divine Mercy Devotions

On Good Friday 1937, Christ appeared to Saint Faustina and dictated to her the prayers that He wished her to pray in a novena from Good Friday through the Octave of Easter, now known as Divine Mercy Sunday. These prayers seem intended primarily for her private use, but the novena has become very popular. It is often combined with the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which can also be prayed throughout the year. (Saint Faustina especially recommended that the chaplet be prayed on Fridays at 3:00 P.M., to commemorate the Death of Christ on the Cross.)

The Death of Saint Faustina and Her Cause

Saint Faustina died on October 5, 1938, in Krakow, Poland, of tuberculosis. The depths of her devotion to Christ and to His Divine Mercy only became know after her death, when her diary was revealed by her spiritual director, Father Michał Sopoćko. Father Sopoćko promoted the devotion to the Divine Mercy, but the devotion and the publication of Saint Faustina's writing was temporarily suppressed by the Vatican, because of possibly heretical misinterpretations.

As archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) became devoted to Saint Faustina. Through his efforts, her works were once again allowed to be published, the Divine Mercy devotion became quite popular, and the cause of her sainthood was opened in 1965.

The Beatification and Canonization of Saint Faustina

A miracle was attributed to Saint Faustina in March 1981, when Maureen Digan of Roslindale, Massachusetts, was cured of lymphedema, an incurable disease, after praying at Saint Faustina's tomb. The certification of the miracle led to Saint Faustina's beatification on April 18, 1993. A priest who had heart damage was cured on October 5, 1995, and this led to Saint Faustina's canonization on April 30, 2000—Divine Mercy Sunday that year.