Monday, May 31, 2010


Having left South Ashford at 5.30am by minibus, we arrived at the Divine Mercy Shrine at Łagewniki in Krakow on time, as planned for lunch, after which we met with Sister Gaudia - as the name implies, a very joyful and youthful sister - who is, of course, Polish, but speaks excellent slightly Americanised English.

She explained something of the significance of the message of Mercy that was entrusted to Saint Faustina, Jesus' Secretary of Divine Mercy. She particularly explained about the 3 o'clock prayer, and wanted it to be known that Our Lord did not ask that any particular prayer be said at 3 o'clock but that rather we pause at that time - for a few seconds, a few minutes, longer if possible - to meditate on the suffering and death of Jesus. Of course, one can say a prayer, the so-called '3 o'clock prayer', for instance, or even the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, but there is no intrinsic link between these prayers and keeping the hour of Our Lord's death.

Sister Gaudia also spoke about the humility of Saint Faustina, and how she is another example of how the Lord chooses the lowly of this world to be entrusted with something great. St Faustina's diaries are at once simple and profound. Simple souls say how easy it is to understand because of its simplicity, wise souls say how profound the diary is. Here we are by the wall just outside the convent chapel where the Chaplet is written in various languages:

I remarked to Sister Gaudia how much we need sisters like her and her order in England, dressed like sisters. She replied with some enthusiasm: "Yes, you do, you do!" Wouldn't it be wonderful if these sisters were established in the UK.

Just outside the convent chapel can be seen the window of the cell where St Faustina died, decorated with flowers:

Following her brief talk with us, we went to the Convent Chapel where the relics of St Faustina are preserved and joined in the 3 o'clock prayers which consisted of a meditation and some prayers in Polish (which naturally we did not understand) followed by the recitation of the Chaplet, one decade of which was done in English for our benefit.

After venerating the relic of St Faustina, we went to the Chapel of St Faustina beneath the basilica for Mass. Today is, of course, the feast of the Visitation, a very appropriate feast for considering lowly and humble creatures chosen by God for great things.

This afternoon I took the opportunity to meditate on some of St Faustina's Notebook VI from her diary, and it truly is profound. Here is what I just happened to read as I sat in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament:
My heart is drawn there where my God is hidden,
Where He dwells with us day and night,
Clothed in the White Host;
He governs the whole world. He communes with souls.

My heart is drawn there where my God is hiding,
Where His love is immolated.
But my heart senses that the living water is here:
It is my living God, through a veil hides Him.
St Faustina is surely speaking of her own mystical experience of ecstasy when she writes:
During meditation, the Lord gave me knowledge of the joy of heaven and of the saints on our arrival there; they love God as the sole object of their love, but they also have a tender and heartfelt love for us. It is from the face of God that this joy flows out upon all, because we see Him face to face. His face is so sweet that the soul falls anew into ecstasy.
On February 13th 1938, she
saw how unwillingly the Lord Jesus came to certain souls in Holy Communion. And He spoke these words to me: I enter into certain hearts as into a second Passion.

Later this afternoon I took a walk round the grounds and visited the Convent cemetery. Here Sr Faustina was buried until her remains were removed to the Convent Chapel.

There appears now to be a large vault where the sisters are buried, with a wall on which the names of those interred are recorded. It must be wonderful to be able to contemplate daily the place where you will be laid to rest.

In the evening there is a beautifully prayerful atmosphere in the convent chapel, which is really the heart of the shrine (I'm afraid I don't much care for the modernist architecture of the basilica). There are evening prayers with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (followed by distribution of Holy Communion which, I must say, I found a bit odd but which I also observed in my visit to Czestochowa earlier this year), Rosary for needy families, night prayers, etc. It is heart-warming to see so many sisters, including numerous novices, and ordinary lay people - many children too, gathered together for these times of prayer, with of course beautiful devout singing.


  1. Beautiful post Fr John. Please pray as you always do for me. Interestingly my mother in law now deceased was born in Kracow but was totally German. Must have been boundaries 85 years ago??

  2. Thank you, Fr John, for this most interesting Post from Poland. Thank God for these Polish Nuns and their devoutness. Bring them back with you to England, Fr. We need them. Have a holy and enjoyable pilgrimage.

  3. Thank you for this lovely post and pictures Father. Just what I needed to read this morning, for a good start to the day!
    I was also interested in the clarification re the three o'clock prayer.

  4. I am interested in your comment 'dressed like sisters'. Historically the dress for women religious was an adaptatiion of the local dress of the poor, elderly women of the time and region of their foundation. The veil was often an adddition to the widows bonnets. The key to it being the dress of the poor.


  5. Thanks for your comment, anon. Wouldn't there be various origins of religious dress according to the charism?

    Many women religious who have abandoned the habit look far from poor!


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