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THE IMAGE OF MERCIFUL JESUS
Vilnius (Lithuania)

(The DIARY of Saint sister Faustina) PLOCK, Poland "22 February, 1931
In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw Our Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in the gesture of blessing; the other was touching the garment, at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, and the other pale. In silence I kept my gaze fixed on Our Lord; my soul was struck with awe, but also with great joy. After a while, Jesus said to me, Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You.
(...) I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death.
(...) I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy. I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; That Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy. I desire that priests proclaim this great mercy of Mine towards souls of sinners. Let the sinner not to be afraid to approach Me. (...)

Once, exhausted because of these various difficulties that had befallen me because of Jesus speaking to me and demanding to paint this image, I made up my mind to approach Father Andrasz before my perpetual vows, and to ask him to dispense me from all these interior inspirations and from the duty of painting this image. After having heard my confession, Father Andrasz gave me this answer: "I will dispense you from nothing, Sister; it is not right for you to turn away from these interior inspirations, but you must absolutely - and I say, absolutely - speak about them to your confessor; otherwise you will go astray despite the great graces you are receiving from God. For the present you are coming to me for confession, but understand, Sister, that you must have a permanent confessor; that is to say, a spiritual director". I was very upset by this. I thought that I would get myself free from everything, and it turned out quite the opposite - an explicit command to follow the requests of Jesus. And now, another torment, as I had no permanent confessor.
(...) But the goodness of Jesus is infinite; He had promised me visible help here on earth and a little while later I received it in Vilnius, in the person of Father Sopocko. I had already known him before coming to Vilnius, thanks to an interior vision. One day I saw him in our chapel between the altar and the confessional and suddenly heard a voice in my soul say "This is the visible help for you on earth. He will help you carry out My will" (Diary, 47-53).

The task given to s. Faustina by Our Lord Jesus seemed humanly impossible, as she did not have the basic artistic skills that were necessary. In spite of this, in her effort to be obedient to God’s
Will she tried to paint the image by herself, yet it didn’t work out. Our Lord’s insistence upon
her to accomplish this task, together with the distrust of s. Faustina’s confessors and superiors, became a cause of great personal suffering for s. Faustina. After three years in Plock she was moved to Warsaw, but even there she was continually thinking about the uncompleted task demanded by Our Lord Jesus who let her feel how important this task was in God’s Plans.

"Suddenly, I saw Our Lord who said to me: Remember, that if you neglect the matter of the painting of the image and the whole work of Divine Mercy, you will be responsible for a multitude of souls on the Day of Judgment" (Diary, 154).

After Sister Faustina has taken the perpetual vows, she was moved to Vilnius. There she met
the visible help on earth that had been promised to her - a confessor and a spiritual leader,
Fr Sopocko, who took upon himself the task to realize the Lord Jesus’ ’demands.

"Led by curiosity of what kind of image it would be, rather than by belief in the authenticity of these apparitions, I asked an artist painter Eugeniusz Kazimirowski to paint this image" (Father Sopocko, Memories).

The image of Merciful Jesus was painted in the atmosphere of the Divine miracle - the mystical experiences of St. sister Faustina. Father Sopocko familiarized the painter with the mission
of sister Faustina to some extent and obliged him to keep it secret. Eugeniusz Kazimirowski
a Vilnius painter, painting the image of Merciful Jesus had to give up his own artistic conceptions in an effort to present a genuine replica of what sister Faustina related to him. She went to
the painter's studio at least once a week over a period of six months to make additions
and necessary corrections. She wanted, to faithfully reveal the Image of Merciful Jesus,
as it appeared to her in the vision.
As founder of the painting, Fr. Michael Sopocko - also took an active part in its creation, posing
at the painter's request clothed in an alb. The time of collaborative effort of painting the image became an occasion for precisely ascertaining the contents of the image. The Lord Jesus Himself clarified the questions in dispute (Diary, 299; 326; 327; 344). Very significant was St. Faustina's discussion with the Lord Jesus on the topic of the accomplished image:

"When I was visiting the artist who was painting the image, and saw that it was not as Jesus is, I felt very saw about it, but I hid this deep in my heart. () Mother Superior stayed in town to attend to some matters while I returned home alone. I went immediately to the chapel and wept a good deal. I said to Our Lord: Who will paint You as beautiful as You are? Then I heard these words: Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace" (Diary, 313).

From this conversation emanates the sincerity of a person gifted with a supernatural grace,
who in her mystical experiences has seen the beauty of the Risen Savior. Our Lord Jesus often appeared to s. Faustina as He was shown in the image (Diary 473; 500; 851; 1046; 1565),
and also requested many times that the painted image be available for veneration by the faithful. This suggests that Our Lord Jesus accepted the painted image - blessing it by His living presence.

Thanks to the efforts of Father Sopocko, the Image of Merciful Savior was put on display
in the window of the chapel of the Holy Mother of Mercy in Vilnius during the closing ceremonies
of the Jubilee of the Redemption of the World, 26-28 April 1935. It was here that, for the first time,
it provided inspiration for the prayers of a large number of the faithful. On the last day
of the ceremonies - the first Sunday after Easter - Sister Faustina participated in the service.
During the sermon on Divine Mercy, Father Sopocko said, "Yes, this is how the Lord Jesus
wanted it".

"For three days it was exposed and received public veneration. Since it was placed at the very top of a window at the Gate of Dawn (Ausros Vartai), it could be seen from a great distance. During these three days, the closing of the Jubilee of the Redemption of the World was being celebrated, at Gate of Dawn, marking the nineteen hundred years that have passed since the Passion of our Savior. I see now that the work of Redemption is bound up with the work of mercy requested by Our Lord" (Diary, 89).

"When the image was displayed, I saw a live movement of the hand of Jesus, as He made a large sign of the cross. In the evening of the same day, (...) I saw the image going over the town, and the town was covered with what appeared to be a mesh and nets. As Jesus passed, He cut trough all the nets..." (Diary, 416).

When I was in the Gate of Dawn to attend the ceremony during which the image was displayed, I heard a sermon given by my confessor (Father Sopocko). This sermon about Divine Mercy was the first of the things that Jesus had asked for so very long ago. When he began to speak about the great Mercy of Our Lord, the image came alive and the rays pierced the hearts of the people gathered there, but not all to the same degree. Some received more, some less. Great joy filled my soul to see the grace of God" (Diary, 417).

"Toward the end of the service, when the priest took the Blessed Sacrament to bless the people, I saw Our Lord Jesus as He is represented in the image. Our Lord gave His blessing, and the rays extended over the whole world. Suddenly, I saw an impenetrable brightness in the form of a crystal dwelling place, woven together from waves of brilliance unapproachable to both creatures and spirits. Three doors led to this resplendence. At that moment, Jesus, as He is represented in the image, entered this resplendence through the second door to the Unity within" (Diary, 420).

The festivities at the Gate of Dawn were a public manifestation of the power of the Divine Mercy.
For s. Faustina, they were a sign and the fulfillment of foretold graces.

Shrine of Our Lady above the Gate of Dawn ("Ausros Vartai")
to the city of Vilnius (Lithuania) (see the Gate of Dawn)

In the later correspondence with Fr. Sopocko, sister Faustina writes: "God allowed me to understand that He is happy with what is already done. Immersed in prayer and in the closeness to God, I experienced a deep calmness inside my soul, concerning all this work. (...) And now concerning these images (smaller copies), (...) Little by little people buy them and many souls experience God’s grace, which flows through this source. As with everything, this also will go slowly. These pictures are not as beautiful as the big image, but they are being bought by people attracted by God’s Grace .." (From a letter, Cracow, February 21, 1938).

On April 4, 1937, with the permission of the Metropolitan of Vilnius, Archbishop Romuald Jalbrzykowski, the Image of Merciful Jesus, after the positive opinion of experts, was consecrated and exposed for veneration in the Church of St. Michael in Vilnius, where it began to be more
and more worshipped. A committee of experts appointed in 1941 upon the Metropolitan’s order confirmed the positive opinion that "the Image was artistically made and it presented the precious output in modern religious art". (From the minutes of the Committee assessing and discussing
the preservation of the Image of Merciful Jesus in the Church of St. Michael in Vilnius,
dated May 27, 1941, signed by the experts : M. Morelowski Ph. D., Professor of the History of Art,
Fr. L. Puchala, Ph.D., Professor of Dogmatism, and Fr. P. Sledziewski, Ph. D., art conservator).

Further to war operations (1939-1945), the Image of Merciful Jesus ended up in USSR, and became unavailable for pilgrims to view for a few decades. Nevertheless, despite the many menaces, (hidden for many years in the attic, rolled, kept in humidity and frost, ineptly repaired many times), thanks to a miraculous dispensation of Providence, it survived the communist regime. Throughout the following years the image could be found in: the Church of Saint Michael in Vilnius (1937-1948); the Church in Nowa Ruda in Belorus (1949-1986); the Church of Holy Spirit in Vilnius (1987-2005). Since 2005, it has been venerated in the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Vilnius.

During his pilgrimage to Lithuania on September 5, 1993, Pope John Paul II prayed before
the Image of the Merciful Jesus. In his speech to the people gathered, he called the Image

"A HOLY IMAGE"

Throughout the entire history of apparitions, there has been only one known case in which
Our Lord Jesus commanded a painting of his own image and conveyed its artistic design.
After the image was painted, He appeared a number of times to s. Faustina proving His personal living presence as it was shown in the painted image. Moreover, through the promise of special graces for the worshippers of this painting, He determined its extraordinary religious value.

"By means of this Image I shall be granting many graces,
so may every soul have access to it" (Diary, 570).

The image in the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius.


"I am offering people a vessel
with which they are to keep on coming for graces to the fountain of mercy.
That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You" (Diary, 327).

"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 (...). Happy be the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him" (Diary, 299).

"Today, I saw two enormous pillars implanted in the ground; I had implanted one of them, and a certain person, S. M. (Sopocko M.), the other. (...). These two pillars were close to each other, at the image width. And I saw the image, raised up very high and hanging from these two pillars. In an instant, upon these two pillars, both inside and outside, there stood a large temple. I saw a hand finishing the temple, but I did not see the person. There was a great multitude of people, inside and outside the temple, and the torrents issuing from the Compassionate Heart of Jesus were flowing down upon everyone" (Diary, 1689).



"I DESIRE THAT THE WHOLE WORLD KNOW MY INFINITE MERCY" (Diary, 687).



THE SHROUD OF TURIN FRAGMENT - ANIMATION

Frather Sopocko’s personal statements (saved on audiotapes) indicate that he left sister Faustina complete freedom in cooperation with the painter. At the same time he confirms in his statements that this image was painted exactly upon her indications. The extreme diligence in presentation
of the Savior’s Divine Image as memorized is emphasized by the fact that the image from
the picture perfectly matches the size of the figure in the Shroud of Turin.

 

 

 

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