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HISTORY
OF IMAGES OF MERCIFUL JESUS
by Adolf Hyla in Cracow Lagiewniki

In 1943 - ten years after the first image of Merciful Jesus was painted in Vilnius (Lithuania) and five years after s. Faustina died in Cracow (Polonia), artist Adolf Hyla visited the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow - Lagiewniki. He wished to make a painting which he wanted to give to the monastic chapel as a votive offering for saving his family from war accidents.

The sisters suggested that he may paint the image of Merciful Jesus. They presented to the artist,
as a image to be copied, reproduction of the first picture painted by Kazimirowski with s. Faustina’s participation. They attached the description of the image, contained in s. Faustina’s diary.
The artist performed the entrusted work according to his own idea. As the size of the donated picture did not fit in the altar of the sister’s chapel, Mother Irena Krzyzanowska ordered another picture. That picture was blessed and placed in the convent chapel in Cracow- Lagiewniki,
where it is still venerated.

The artist presented the image of Merciful Jesus against the background of a meadow and shrubs looming afar. Following Fr. Sopocko’s suggestion in 1954, the background was darkened
and a floor was painted under Jesus’ feet.
The image donated by Adolf Hyla as a votive offering, was placed at the Sacred Heart Church
in Wroclaw (Polonia). This church is connected with the Convent of the Sisters of Our Lady
of Mercy (see footnotes in S. Faustina’s Diary, p. 487, 488, 495).




After the World War II (1939-1945), the first image of Merciful Jesus, painted by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski with sister Faustina’s participation in Vilnius, ended up in the USSR, where because of cruel persecution of Catholics, thousands of people for a few dozen years had to conceal their faith in God. Also the image was concealed.
Availability of an another image in Poland perhaps has become a providential diverting of attention from the miraculous "a Holy Image" (called so by John Paul II in 1993 in Vilnius).
Since there was no other way to save the "a Holy Image".

Furthermore, the numerous restorations and repainting carried out at that time affected disadvantageously the appearance of the image. The paraffin coat applied by the conservator effectively protected the picture against humidity, however it simultaneously changed the intensity of its original colours. Such treatments concealed its artistic value for many years.

Following the thorough conservation in 2003, the image regained its clear significance of the message. The subtle figure of the Merciful Savior appearing in the dark afar directs the praying people’s attention to the mercy rays light flowing from the Heart opened on the Cross.

"I saw two rays coming out from the Host, as in the image,
closely united but not intermingled..." (Diary, 344).

"The two rays (in the image) denote blood and water. The pale ray stands for the water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the blood that is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross" (Diary, 299).



The image painted in St Faustina’s presence (Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, Vilnius 1934).
 

The image painted after St Faustina’s death (Adolf Hyla, Cracow, 1944).

The image painted by Adolf Hyla undoubtedly contributed largely to the development of
the worship of the Divine Mercy. This is confirmed by the reported graces received through it.
Yet, its popularity has not diminished the importance of the first image painted in Vilnius - exactly according to the pattern bequeathed by Our Lord Jesus. This image was duly exposed in the high altar of the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Vilnius, where surrounded by the prayers of nuns
and pilgrims it receives public veneration.

"My gaze from this image is like My gaze from the cross" (Diary, 326).

"Today I saw the glory of God which flows from the image. Many souls are receiving graces, although they do not speak of it openly. Even though it has met up with all sorts of vicissitudes, God is receiving glory because of it; and the efforts of Satan and of evil men are shattered and come to naught. In spite of Satan’s anger, the Divine Mercy will triumph over the whole world and will be worshiped by all souls"
(Diary, 1789).




The first image of Merciful Jesus, placed since 1987 at the Holy Spirit Church in Vilnius, did not arouse any special interest in pilgrims or church authorities. The lack of appropriate exposure conditions contributed to further disadvantageous changes in its matter. It was only in July 2001 that with the consent of Fr Miroslaw Grabowski, parish priest at the Holy Spirit Church,
the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus could attend this unique, invaluable image
with care. This congregation for many years has made efforts to publicize the image of Merciful Jesus, the one which came into existence in the atmosphere of God’s miracle - s. Faustina’s
prayer and suffering, her presence and her participation.
Thanks to the sisters’ efforts and dedication, in April 2003 the picture was thoroughly restored
at the convent’s chapel in Vilnius. All overpaintings were removed, all damages repaired,
and the stains resulting from dampness and attempts to remove them with chemicals were eliminated. The conservation restored the image’s primary appearance.


PHOTOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION OF THE CONSERVATION OF THE PAINTING

Before conservation After removal of varnish After removal of overpainting
Close-up before conservation In the process
of removing overpaint
After removal of overpainting
Removing overpaint Consolidation of the original artist’s painting

Despite the thorough conservation, the condition of the painting’s fabric was weakened considerably. It was recommended that it should be exposed in appropriate conditions,
complying with the conservator’s recommendations. The conservation works were entrusted
to Mrs Edyta Hankowska-Czerwinska from Wloclawek, Poland, an art conservator and graduate from the Fine Arts Faculty of the Mikolaj Kopernik University in Torun.
e-mail: edycja@autograf.pl


 

 

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