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The only authorized reproduction of the Divine Mercy image, belonging to the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, will be on display at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Divine Mercy Sunday April 18. The Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow, Poland, loaned the painting to the Knights of Columbus, who are bringing it to cathedrals around the country in honor of the 25th anniversary of the pontificate of John Paul II.
Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley will celebrate a Mass at 1:30 p.m. at the cathedral on Divine Mercy Sunday. Following the Mass, the archbishop will preside over a Divine Mercy Hour of Prayer.
Each year the Knights organize an international hour of prayer around a particular icon, generally one depicting the Virgin Mary. This year the Knights chose to focus on the image of Divine Mercy because the pope developed a strong devotion to the image when he was archbishop of Krakow.
The pope met with the leadership of the Knights of Columbus last June to bless the image and endorse the Knights’ initiative.
The national tour began in Philadelphia at the beginning of the year.
According to Father Arthur Coyle, Cabinet Secretary of Pastoral Services, the Knights sent a letter to the archbishop in September inviting him to schedule a date to display the image. When Father Coyle responded to the Knights weeks ago, he never expected that image would be available on Divine Mercy Sunday. Another diocese that had originally scheduled to host the painting on that day had canceled a day earlier.
“We were just fortunate enough to get it for Divine Mercy Sunday,” he said. “The archbishop was very desirous of having it.”
The Divine Mercy image displays Jesus Christ clothed in white with two rays emanating from his garment. The inscription at the bottom of the painting reads, “Jesus, I trust in You.” The rays — one red, the other pale blue, almost white — represent the blood and water that flowed from the body of Jesus when He was pierced with the lance after His crucifixion.
Jesus appeared to St. Faustina Kowalska around the year 1931 telling her to replicate the image of Him. Artist Adolf Hyla painted the image that is touring the United States after St. Faustina’s death in 1938. There are several different renditions of the Divine Mercy image including the original painted by Eugene Kazimirowski under the direction of St. Faustina; however, Hyla’s is the more popular image, according to the Knights of Columbus.
When Jesus appeared to St. Faustina, He told her that “the souls that will venerate this image will not perish.” He requested that the Sunday after Easter be designated the feast of His mercy and promised to be merciful to those who observe the feast devoutly.
Observation of Divine Mercy Sunday includes repentance of sins through confession, receiving Holy Communion, venerating the image of Divine Mercy and being merciful to others.