Recently they have travelled round the earth and now they are starting another unusual pilgrimage. Pilgrims of Divine Mercifulness are setting off from Łódź to Rome with the image copy of Merciful Jesus

There has not been such a pilgrimage. Four former prisoners, but experienced pilgrims: Wojciech Jakowiec, Grzegorz Gryniewicz, Seweryn Trafanowski and Roman Zięba, on 12 April 2015, on Sunday of Divine Mercifulness, are setting off from Łódź in order to get to Rome, after three months, while pushing and pulling a trolley with the image.

‘It is not an ordinary image and this is an unusual pilgrimage. Each of us knows what the Divine Mercifulness is, because we have experienced it personally. Now we are setting off in order to share with others what we received. The best things are the ones for free’ – they wrote.

To Vilnius

It started with the portrait copy of St. Faustyna and the Vilnius image of Merciful Jesus in the scale of 1:2, painted by Fabian Jałocha, a painting artist and a graphic artist from Radzymin, famous for pictures inspired by poetry of Norwid. And earlier – with reading ‘A Diary’ of s. Faustyna, without which the images might have not been created and pilgrimages to Vilnius to the original of the image by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski.

The photo of the picture was noticed by Mrs. Małgorzata, a lecturer at the university in Gdańsk. She was looking for the picture of the original size to a Polish church in Cairo. When Jałocha started studying the picture, he decided that the image was unusual, because although painting means had been used sparingly, it was seen that Jesus is good, gentle, but also firm and His look – ‘like the one from the cross’ – directed at the heart of a man who is standing in front of Him.

Before Jałocha finished the picture, it had been Lent time, prayer and months of work. The copy was to get to Egypt, and was given an Arabic writing: ‘Jesus, I trust you’. However, she withdrew: the church in Cairo had already received another copy of the picture.

To Assisi

Before Wojciech, Roman and Dominik became Pilgrims of Divine Mercifulness, they got to Assisi on foot. Three characters, three personalities and three biographies. But during a meeting in 2010 in Niepokalanów there appeared an idea of a pilgrimage ‘A man is going’. A year later they had been walking for a hundred days and had visited three places – Fatima, Moscow and Jerusalem. They got to a tomb of St. Francis and, together with representatives of other religions, they prayed for peace for a man and the world.

We have celebrated the 25th anniversary of the interreligious meeting in Assisi to an invitation of John Paul II and a prayer for peace – they emphasize. After Assisi, they decided to make pilgrimages together to various countries, on various routes – in the intention of peace, proclaiming four priorities of civilization of love, which pope Paul VI had mentioned, and St. John Paul II had described: a man before a thing, ethics before technics, to be before to have, mercifulness before justice.

They had been walking for four months, across borders of twenty countries. They slept near synagogues, mosques, churches and houses of ordinary people. They received help from the Orthodox, Muslims, protestants, Jews, atheists, and people whose religion and language they did not know.

‘A pilgrimage is not only a journey to a place on a map. It is also a road to the truth about one’s life. Only getting to know and accepting the truth can change something in us. In order to proclaim peace, first one must have it in one’s heart’ - they wrote in Internet after this experience. And Zięba, spiritus movens of the community decided that a real pilgrimage is 40 centimetres long, that is, as much as it separates the reason from the heart.

Around the world

Assisi was the beginning of their travel, not the end. People joined them – who also wanted to pray for the spirit of Assisi for the whole world, for peace and the world of love civilization for everybody. They decided to make a pilgrimage around the world: 40 thousand km on foot which can be attended by everyone.

Everyone who set off into a journey in the intention of love civilization, became a Pilgrim of Divine Mercifulness. As well as: we called our community making a pilgrimage Pilgrims of Divine Mercifulness – says Roman Zięba. During four years about 200 people made pilgrimages of 5 to ….4 thousand km (such a route was registered by Łukasz Supergan, a famous traveler), walking across a few continents.

On longer routes they were carrying Tables of Peace: on oak wood there was an engraved map of the pilgrimage, a prayer in various languages, and, first of all, the cross ‘tau’ with which St. Francis had given his signature, and into which three roads to Assisi were arranged. This cross became their sign. They gave the tables in thirty places, the first one – in Fatima, the last one – in Gniezno. When they summed up the distance and they received a distance longer than the perimeter of the Earth, they did not expect that they would set off again into another and more unusual pilgrimage.

From Głogowiec

St. Faustyna became their patron, whose call: ‘Jesus, I trust you’ they accepted as a motto. Her testimony of life and death, absolute entrustment and trustfulness in power of Divine Mercifulness inspired them. Therefore, they often start pilgrimages from the family home of the Saint nun in Głogowiec near Kutno, whose area they called the Land of Divine Mercifulness.

Making pilgrimages in the spirit of Assisi attracted people who experienced their weakness in their life: in loneliness, habit, illness, prison; people freed from alcoholism, former prisoners, people healed from illnesses or those who have experienced religious conversion. What joined them together was the thought that Divine Mercifulness raises a sinner from a fall and allows him to live. It gives real and unending hope. On the way they often discovered that Divine Mercifulness is boundless, that we all are God’s children towards His love.

To Łódź

It would seem that such ideas appear accidently: a copy of the Vilnius picture is created, which is to be sent to Egypt, later a ordering party does not buy the picture, and later there appears the thought about passing it to Rome, and also people who can do it; finally, those people – former prisoners – set off into a foot pilgrimage, pulling the enormous picture on a trolley, wanting to give it to the Holy Father. Pilgrims of Divine Mercifulness, and Fabian Jałocha, are, however, doubtful about it. – Pilgrims are another link, in a chain of events – the artist notes. The copy of the picture had already had a rich history before it was created, and new links of the chain still appear.

When it turned out that the picture would not go to Cairo, there appeared uncertainty what its fate would be, as well as a thought to give it to pope Francis. Doubts how the picture could get to Rome did not last long. There appeared people from ‘Iskra’ in Łódź – a group of people praying with the Chaplet of Divine Mercifulness in streets and Pilgrims befriended with them.

We decided that the picture would be given to Pope and he will know what to do with it – says Roman Zięba. The picture, through Warsaw where it was sanctified, was taken to Łódź and Szczecin, where in expectation for Sunday of Divine Mercifulness, is in its pilgrimage in churches.

There is a can, there are donations and intentions. People started believing that it makes sense and started supporting the Pilgrims during donation collections. Even one of bishops, knowing the Pilgrims very well, supported them not only with a prayer, but also with high donation, which made them feel supported before their wander. And a book of intentions became thicker.

To Rome

It looks different when one takes a rucksack and walks. Now every part of a route in Poland must be consulted with the local authority. The pilgrims did not have to inform anyone about their wander but only about their passing by a means of transport. The venture is less spontaneous and, anyway, there are a lot of similarities, entrustments. Most longer wanders which they made, also the current one, look like the one to Assisi: without any safe accommodations, food supplies, and its participants are at the mercy of Divine Providence and people’s good hearts.

The pilgrims’ hope borders with uncertainty if information about the pilgrimage will get to the Holy Father, who will host them or at least will second somebody to whom they will give the picture. They want to give it as a gift of prayer in the intention of persecuted Christians of peace in the world and faithfulness to Gospel. – But, it is not known if the picture will stay in Rome longer – says Roman Zięba. – Who knows, maybe it will get further, for example, in the Near East, where a prayer and Divine Mercifulness are particularly needed…


„Niedziela” 15/2015

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl