The original Divine Mercy image was painted by Eugene Kazimierowski in Vilnius, Lithuania (January to June 1934) under St. Faustina’s direction. However, according to her diary, she cried upon seeing that the finished picture was not as beautiful as the vision she had received, but Jesus comforted her saying, “Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush is the greatness of this image, but in My grace.
The Divine Mercy image as painted by Adolf Hyla. The writing at the bottom is in polish and means “Jesus I Trust in You”. This painting hangs above the tomb of Saint Faustina in the convent of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki, Poland. The painting was completed in 1943.
In her diary Faustina wrote that Jesus specified three o’clock each afternoon as the hour at which mercy was best received, and asked her to pray the Chaplet of Mercy and venerate the Divine Mercy image at that hour. On October 10, 1937, in her diary (Notebook V, item 1320) Faustina attributed the following statement to Jesus:
As often as you hear the clock strike the third hour immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it, invoke it’s omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners, for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul.
Three o’clock in the afternoon corresponds to the hour at which Jesus died on the cross. This hour is called the “hour of Divine Mercy” or the “hour of great mercy”
The Feast of the Divine Mercy
The feast of Divine Mercy Sunday was instituted by Pope John Paul II and is celebrated the Sunday after Easter on the General Roman Calendar, and is associated with specific indulgences.
Divine Mercy Sunday is also the day after the culmination of the novena of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Faustina wrote Jesus instructed her that the Feast of Mercy (the Sunday after Easter) be preceded by a Divine Mercy Novena which would begin on Good Friday.
In an entry in her diary, Faustina stated that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of their sins and punishments.
The devotion was actively promoted by Pope John Paul II who, On 30 April 2000, canonized Faustina Kowalska, and officially designated the Sunday after Easter as the Sunday of the Divine Mercy (Dominica II Paschae seu de divina misericordia) in the General Roman Calendar. A year after establishing Divine Mercy Sunday, on April 22, 2001 Pope John Paul II re-emphasized its message in the resurrection context of Easter:
The devotion to Divine Mercy Sunday grew rapidly after its designation by Pope John Paul II and is now widely celebrated by Catholics. The Divine Mercy image is often carried in processions on Divine Mercy Sunday, and is placed in a location in the church so that it can be venerated by those who attended the Mass.
The liturgical celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday reflects the devotional elements of Divine Mercy – the first prayer of that Mass beginning with:
“Heavenly Father and God of Mercy, We no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for He is alive and has become the Lord of Life”.
This opening prayer refers to Divine Mercy as the key element in the plan of God for salvation and emphasizes the belief that it was through mercy that God gave his only son for the redemption of mankind, after the fall of Adam.
John Paul II, who died in April 2005 on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, was himself beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011, by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI.