According to some, Saint Pope John Paul II canonized almost 500 saints during his twenty-six year stint as the head of the Catholic Church. He canonized the likes of St. Katharine Drexel, St. Jose Maria Escriva, and St. Arnold Janssen.
St. John Paul II also canonized fellow Polish St. Maria Faustyna Kowalska, better known as St. Faustina Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament, in April 2000 after two miracles were attributed to her.
Despite being known around the world as the “Secretary of the Divine Mercy,” St. Faustina did not have a feast day up until this year. Last May 18, on the birth centenary of St. John Paul II, Pope Francis officially added a feast for St. Faustina in the Roman calendar.
In an official decree from the Holy Father, he says that he received numerous petitions from religious men and women to dedicate a feast day for the saint as she influenced thousands of people to become devoted to the Divine Mercy.
Now, St. Faustina Kowalska has her own feast day, which will be celebrated every October 5. Her feast day will be “inserted into all Roman calendars, liturgical books for the celebration of Mass, and the liturgy of the Hours,” according to Pope Francis’s decree.
St. Faustina Kowalska
Maria Faustyna Kowalska, born Helena Kowalska, was a Polish nun who was—and still is—attributed to the Divine Mercy. While in the convent, she reported that she had encountered the Lord who was dressed in a white garment with red and pale rays shining from His heart on February 22, 1931.
She wrote about the encounter in her diary as Jesus instructed her to “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: “Jesus, I trust in You” (in Polish: “Jezu, ufam Tobie”). I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.” St. Faustina wasn’t artistic so she asked for help from fellow nuns to draw what she had seen, unfortunately, to no luck. (Read: Meet the Popes’ Painter)
However, three years later, she was assigned to Vilnius, where she found a person who was willing to help her. There, they created the first actual image of what we now know as the Divine Mercy. After the painting had been done, St. Faustina revealed that Jesus had told her that He wanted the Divine Mercy to be celebrated every first Sunday after Easter, and be called the “Feast of Mercy.”
Her dedication to the Divine Mercy earned her the title of “Secretary of the Divine Mercy” and because of her, we now celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday every year.
St. Faustina is also the first saint of the new millennium, as she was canonized on April 13, 2000, the first canonization that year.