On Divine Mercy Sunday, this year a new image of Divine Mercy, recently completed by local artist Sarah Crow, was installed and solemnly blessed.
“I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus I trust in You.”— Jesus to Saint Faustina, Diary 327
This new, original oil painting of The Divine Mercy by Sarah Crow, was commissioned by Saint John Cantius Church and was installed and blessed on Divine Mercy Sunday 2020. Although entirely new, the painting strives to be consistent with all the recorded details of Our Lord’s private revelation of the Image of Divine Mercy to Saint Faustina.
“I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory.” — Jesus to Saint Faustina, Diary 48
You can learn more about the painting and order prints at the artist's web site »
Notes from the Artist
It is important to know that this version of the Image of Divine Mercy represents every recorded detail of the vision of Our Lord to Saint Faustina Kowalski that I could discover, from the Diary of Saint Faustina, as well as from a letter written by Blessed Father Sopocko in 1958, in which he recalls specific instructions given by Saint Faustina to the artist Eugene Kazimierowski (Important details from Father Sopocko’s letter are quoted in a very useful article written by Robert Stackpole, STD, director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy https://www.thedivinemercy.org/articles/why-so-many-images-which-one-best).
I tried to be faithful to the vision that Our Lord gave to Saint Faustina because the Image is rife with theological significance and symbolism. Like Eugene Kazimierowski’s painting, this new painting is consistent with the vision, whereas many alternate versions deviate in significant details. For example, in Saint Faustina’s vision, Our Lord’s right hand is raised in priestly blessing not above His shoulder, in accordance with the rubrics of the Missale Romanum of 1962, that is, the Roman Rite Mass which was celebrated during Saint Faustina’s lifetime, which we now call the extraordinary form. According to the same rubrics, Our Lord’s gaze is directed, not straight at the viewer, but cast downward, just as the Priest’s gaze is cast downward as he gives the final blessing. These details, in conjunction with others, such as the long robe and cincture at the waist, all reveal that the Image of Divine Mercy is an image of Our Lord as High Priest. That He is both Priest and Victim is shown by the red and colorless rays emanating from His Heart, symbolizing the blood and water that poured forth from His pierced side on the Cross. Jesus said to Saint Faustina that, “the pale ray stands for the Water which makes all souls righteous. The red stands for the Blood which is the life of souls… These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross.” It is crucial that Christ’s priesthood is fully portrayed in the Image of Divine Mercy because the Image highlights the profound connection between Our Lord’s mercy and the Church with Her sacraments which are birthed from the side of Christ on the Cross. As The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. "The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus."171 "For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the 'wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'"172 As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.
That this painting was executed in this season when the faithful have been separated from the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church has been personally significant. My prayer, simultaneous with the painting, has been for the outpouring of Our Lord’s mercy on the whole world in this time of great suffering and sin, and in a special way the work has been spiritually offered for Saint John Cantius Church, and for the city of Chicago. My own desire for the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and my intuition of Our Lord’s infinitely more profound desire to be oned with us, has fueled my attempt to represent Jesus’ merciful approach to us, and His presence with us.
While I have tried to be consistent with symbolic details, aesthetically my decisions have been uniquely my own, and I have not attempted to reproduce any earlier version of the Image of Divine Mercy. I referenced the Shroud of Turin for the proportions of the Face of Jesus, but sought my own vision in all other particulars. In reference to the version of the painting that I was replacing at Saint John Cantius, I wanted to make a more radiant image with purer color, and utilized the oil painting technique of glazing for that effect. The pastor and I agreed that we should keep the signature ‘Jesus I Trust in You’ in the Polish language to honor the church’s heritage.
Spiritually, I have depended upon the intercession of the communion of saints. I was privileged to be a temporary custodian of the relic of Saint Faustina while working on this painting, and I daily asked for the prayers of the saints. I was also supported by the prayers and spiritual offerings of many of the faithful in our church and community, without which I am certain that this painting would not have been accomplished.
I am inexpressibly grateful for the opportunity to paint Our Beloved Lord for my church, and to see it installed at the very place where I was baptized. This painting is far from perfect, but as Our Lord said to Saint Faustina, “Not in the beauty of the color, nor the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace.” I pray that my offering will be a blessing to the church, and trust that Our Lord will use it as a vessel for the outpouring of His grace, not according to the merit of the work, but according to His infinite mercy. Truly the graces that Jesus desires to give us through the Image of Divine Mercy are extraordinary!
It is also good to bear in mind this note by Stackpole in his article about the various paintings of the Image of Divine Mercy: that whichever version of the painting we may personally prefer, “remember to be respectful of all the approved versions of the image, for they are all imperfect renditions of our infinitely perfect and radiant Savior!’
Letter from the Pastor
April 19th, 2020,
The Sunday after Easter, is given several names: Dominica in Albis, Low Sunday, “Quasimodo” Sunday, and more recently, Divine Mercy Sunday.
But whatever we may call this 8th day of Easter, the day has always been a revelation and a celebration of the Mercy of the Risen Lord. In the Gospel read at Mass, we hear how Christ invites his disciples to touch his wounded side and to experience that His wounds have won victory over sin.
In the 5th century, St. Augustine called this 8th day of the Easter Octave, “the compendium of the days of mercy.”
This Sunday at 2 pm, we invite you to join us a special moment in the life of our parish, via live stream available from our web site.
We will sing the Divine Mercy Chaplet, celebrate Solemn Vespers, and process to the baptismal font where we will renew our Baptismal promises and have the dedication of a newly installed image of Divine Mercy, recently completed by local artist Sarah Crow.
In asking for this image, Jesus told St. Faustina, “I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature; 'Jesus, I trust in You.”
Our Lord assured St. Faustina, that “not in the beauty of the colour, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace.”
We are blessed to have this new work of art and a special image where our faithful can venerate the Divine Mercy, and experience a window to God’s grace.
May you continue to experience His wondrous love during this season of Easter.
Very Rev. Joshua Caswell, SJC
Pastor & Superior