Helena Kowalska was born on August 25, 1905 in the farming family from Głogowiec near Łodz. She was a third of ten children of Stanisław and Marianna. She attended the primary school but after three years she had to stop her education to help her mother. At the age of seven she already felt God’s calling for religious vocation to serve Him.
When she was 16 years old, because of the material conditions of the poor, she had to leave her home to work as a housekeeper in wealthy families in Łodz.
However, the desire to enter the convent had grown deep down since her childhood. But her father opposed this decision saying that they couldn’t afford to buy her required monastic trousseau.
In July 1924 Jesus Christ spoke to her and told her to go to Warsaw and enter to the convent. She did it immediately and she went to the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw in Żytnia Str. However, she had to work for one more year in order to save money for a modest monastic trousseau. Finally on August 1, 1925 she entered the congregation.
Her postulate took place in Warsaw, and then she finished her novitiate in Cracow where during the ceremony of taking the veil she received a habit and her religious name: sister Mary Faustina. From March 1926 till her vows sister Faustina suffered a lot because of many inner difficulties which God experienced her. On April 30, 1928 she had her first religious vows (charity, poverty and obedience) and in 1933 she filed her perpetual profession.
She worked in different congregation’s houses: in Cracow, Plock and Vilnius, doing different jobs such as: a cook, shop assistant at the bakery’s, a gardener and a sister gate-keeper.
In February 1934 merciful Jesus Christ appeared her for the first time. At that time she was in Płock. She was ordered to paint the image of Jesus Christ according to the way she had seen Him and to show it in the church.
At the beginning of 1934 she asked Vilnian artist Eugeniusz Kazimierski to paint the picture of the Divine Mercy. Thanks to help the priest Michał Sopoćko, who was her spiritual guide, the picture was exhibited in Ostra Brama in Vilnius. In place where there is a very important for Poles picture of Our Lady of Ostra Brama -the Queen of Poland. The day of exposition was the first Sunday after Easter , called“ Guiding Sunday”, which according to Jesus’s words was to be the Feast of Divine Mercy. Apart of that Sister Faustina was called by Saviour as the Apostle of Divine Mercy and wanted her to spread His Message of Mercy in the Church.
Sister Faustina from one side experienced many extraordinary graces: apparitions, ecstasies, the gift of bilocation, hidden stigma, reading into human souls, the mystical betrothal and nuptials
on the other side she suffered a lot from tuberculosis of the lungs and alimentary system.
In spring 1938 her health was deteriorating and in the hospital the priest Sopoćko applicated her the Extreme Unction. There he saw her in ecstasy. She passed away on October 5, 1938 at the age of 33.
On April 18,1993 she was beatified, and April 30, 2000 she was pronounced the Saint.
The celebration of her canonisation took place on the second Sunday after Easter and the Pope John Paul II founded the Feast of the Divine Mercy for entire Church on that day. The relics of the Saint are in the Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Cracow-Lagiewniki
The places in Poland connected with Sister Faustyna:
l Warsaw (Warszawa) : the Congegation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw where her postulancy took place - Żytnia Str 3/9 ( www.faustyna.pl)
l Plock (Płock) – the place of revelation (www.plock.faustyna.pl)
l Cracow-Lagiewniki (Kraków-Łagiewniki) the Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Cracow-Lagiewniki (www.faustyna.pl)