The picture by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski (1934)


The most visible sign of the cult of God's Mercifulness, initiated by s. Faustyna Kowalska, is undoubtedly the picture of Merciful Jesus. Especially three canvasses presenting Christ , according to tips of the Polish mystic sister are known in the world. Here there are short presentations of each of them

This is the only image of Merciful Jesus seen by Sister Faustyna. When in one of his apparitions in 1932, Christ asked her to make a particular picture of his person, the nun did not know how to do it. Only thanks to her confessor Fr. Michał Sopoćko, whom she had met in Vilnus, could fulfill the desire of Jesus. Sopoćko lived then in a building of chaplaincy of sisters of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Rossie in Vilnus, where also a famous artist and a lecturer Eugeniusz Kazimirowski (1873 - 1939) had his flat and workshop. He also - from January to June 1934 - painted a picture of Merciful Jesus. Fr. Sopocko posed for him as a model, and Sister Faustyna came to the workshop from time to time, in order to check whether the image of Christ is in accordance with the vision which she had seen in her apparition.

It was the first time when the painting had been presented publicly during the Paschal Triduum in 1935. Later it got into the church of St. Michael in Vilnus where Fr. Sopoćko was a rector. In 1948, when the Soviet authorities closed down the church, the canvas got to the church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnus and in 1956 to a small village church in Nowa Ruda in Belarus. In 1986 the painting was secretly transported to Vilnus, where in the following year it was hung in the church of the Holy Spirit. The last moving of the painting took place in 2005 when to the order of cardinal Audrys Juoaz Backis, the image was transported to the church of the Holy Trinity in Vilnus, where the sanctuary of Divine Mercifulness was established.

A painting of Adolf Hyła (1944)

During the Second World War, an artist from Cracow, a student of Jacek Malczewski - Adolf Hyła (1897- 1965) arrived in the cloister of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercifulness in Łagiewniki. He suggested painting a picture for the chapel of the sisters as a votum for saving his family from death. At that time a Jesuit Fr. Józef Andrasz, who was a confessor and a spiritual leader of Sister Faustyna from 1936 to 1938. asked the artist to paint the image of Merciful Jesus.

The only hint of what Christ was going to look like in the painting was the description of His person left in the 'Diary' of the deceased nun. Basing on this description, between November 1942 and March 1943 Hyła created the image of Merciful Jesus.

However, it turned out that the canvass did not match the inside of the side altar of the chapel with its sizes. As a result, the nuns ordered one more painting, which was finally hung in the church in April 1944. Later the artist made one more change in it - originally the work presented Christ in the background of a meadow but in 1954 Hyła repainted the background into a darker colour, and beneath the feet of the Redeemer, he painted the floor. Even today the picture remains the most famous image of Merciful Jesus. It is estimated that Hyła painted over a hundred of canvases of this type, which got to various churches.

A painting of Ludomir Sleńdziński (1954)

This canvas won a contest for the best image of Merciful Jesus and gained recognition of Polish bishops. Announcement of the contest was the result of a tumultuous meeting of the plenary conference of the Polish Episcopate in September 1954. At that time, there appeared many critical opinions on the pictures of Merciful Jesus, painted by various artists and dispersed in churches all over Poland. Many works were blamed for not meeting Catholic liturgical and dogmatic norms. The strongest protest was from bishop Franciszek Barda, who stated that some canvases were nnot convenient for ecclesiastical teaching, because they are not based so much on the Revelation included in the Holy Scripture, but rather on private visions, whose authenticity has not been confirmed by the Church yet.

In relation to it, Fr. Michał Sopoćko decided to defend the idea of the picture of Merciful Jesus and announced a contest for a new image which would meet the demands of the ecclesiastical teaching. It was to present Christ appearing to disciples in the Upper Room and establishing the sacrament of penance.

Adolf Hyła refused to participate in the contest. Ludomir Sleńdzinski ( 1889-1980) won.

He was chosen as a winner by the church commission with bishop Stanisław Rospond at the helm. In October 1954 the Main Commission of the Polish Episcopate decided that the painting of Sleńdziński should be an example for other artists to follow. However, this image did not gain popularity among believers, as well as bishops. The contest canvas has been hanging in the chapel of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Merciful in Grochów in Warsaw till today.


„Niedziela” 40/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
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