Sister Mary Faustina, an apostle of the Divine Mercy, belongs today to the group of the most popular and well-known saints of the Church. Through her the Lord Jesus communicates to the world the great message of God's mercy and reveals the pattern of Christian perfection based on trust in God and on the attitude of mercy toward one's neighbors.
Helena Kowalska was born on August 25, 1905 in Glogowiec , Poland, the third of the ten Kowalski children. Her family was very poor, to the extent that Helena and her sisters had only one "good" dress between them to wear to church! They had to share it, each girl going to a different Mass and then returning so that the next girl could wear the dress to the following Mass. At the age of 15, Helena left the school which she had been attending for three years, to work in support of her family. Already she was considering a vocation to the religious life; since the age of seven, she had heard a call to holiness deep in her soul, and understood that God was calling her to be a nun. By the time she was eighteen, she was convinced of her vocation, and asked her parents for permission to enter the convent. However, her parents refused; Helena was their favourite daughter, and they did not want to lose her. Later, Helena wrote that after this disappointment, "I gave myself up to vanities, neglecting the call of grace." She tried to forget her vocation and began to stifle her conscience with worldly amusements. But God had great plans for Helena, and He would not permit this desertion!
After the years she remembers about it in her DIARY:
"Once I was at a dance with one of my sisters and while everybody was having a good time, my soul was experiencing deep torments. As I began to dance, I suddenly saw Jesus at my side, Jesus racked with pain, stripped of his clothing, all covered with wounds, who spoke these words to me, "How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting Me off?" At that moment the charming music stopped, and the company I was with vanished from my sight; there remained Jesus and I. I took a seat by my dear sister, pretending to have a headache in order to cover up what took place in my soul. After a while I slipped out unnoticed, leaving my sister and all my companions behind and made my way to the Cathedral of Saint Stanislaus Kostka (Lodz). It was almost twilight; there were only a few people in the cathedral. Paying no attention to what was happening around me, I fell prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament and begged the Lord to be good enough to give me to understand what I should do next. Then I heard these words, "Go at once to Warsaw (Poland), you will enter a convent there." I rose from prayer, came home, and took care of things that needed to be settled. As best I could, I confided to my sister what took place within my soul. I told her to say good-by to our parents, and thus, in my one dress, with no other belongings, I arrived in Warsaw (Diary, 9-10).
Once arrived in the capital of Poland, Helena asked the advice of a priest, who sent her to stay with a pious lady while she looked for a convent. But all the convents where she asked for admission sent her away. Despite her discouragement, Helena kept searching, and finally she was accepted at the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, an order which took care of wayward or neglected girls. But before entering, she had to work as a servant in order to save money for the dowry which the convent required to pay for her habit and other expenses. A year later, on August 1, 1925, she entered as a postulant. On April 30, 1926, Helena became a novice, taking as her "name in religion," the name "Sister Mary Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament." Soon St. Faustina began to receive heavenly visions. She visited