SISTER FAUSTINA FILM “LOVE AND MERCY” IN MORE THAN 700 MOVIE THEATERS IN THE UNITED STATES ON OCTOBER 28 – “Most Christians are still unaware of the power of the message that Jesus gave to humanity through Sr Faustina”

– Miguel Augusto (*)

The new Santa Faustina movie Love and Mercy: Faustina, which will be released in the US this October 28, had its pre-screening on March 5th at the Vatican. Around the world, religious and devotees of the Divine Mercy and of Saint Faustina look forward to the arrival of the film. Although the movie’s rights were sold already to more than 30 countries, the movie does not appear to be scheduled for the Hong Kong and Macau theaters. However, the Macau Diocese Media Center may, in the near future, screen the movie at the Macau Cineteatro.

Last March 5th, with distinguished guests like Most Rev. Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop of Palermo (Italy), and journalists from around the world on hand, the Vatican played host on a Tuesday evening to the premiere of the feature-length film Love and Mercy: Faustina, a docudrama on St Faustina and Divine Mercy revelations. “The idea to create ‘Love and Mercy’ first came to me two years ago after reading the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska,” said the director, Michael Kondrat. He referred to St Faustina as “a figure of fundamental importance” that has helped the world rediscover the Gospel message of God’s merciful love for all mankind.

The invited guests were first treated to a delightful dose of irony,  with a clipping, from March 7, 1959 – first published 60 years ago on the front page of L’Osservatore Romano – containing a notice issued the previous day by the Holy Office that prohibited the promotion of the Divine Mercy devotion in the forms proposed by Sr. Faustina. The ban was lifted nearly 20 years later, following an investigation that authenticated Faustina’s mystical experiences and Divine Mercy writings.

In the years since the ban’s lifting, Divine Mercy has become the greatest grassroots movement in the history of the Church. Saint Faustina’s Diary has since become a modern spiritual classic published in countless languages. The Divine Mercy Image, requested by Jesus and painted under St Faustina’s direction, has since become one of the most recognized religious images in the world.

Pope St John Paul II proclaimed Faustina the first saint of the new millennium in 2000. On that same day, he also established “Divine Mercy Sunday” as a special title for the Octave Sunday of Easter for the universal Church, as Jesus requested through St Faustina. John Paul II called the mercy message given to St Faustina “the appropriate and incisive answer that God wanted to offer to the questions and expectations of human beings in our time, marked by terrible tragedies.” (St John Paul II himself died on 2 April 2005, eve of the Feast of Divine Mercy and was canonized on 27 April 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday.)

It was only fitting that the Vatican screening took place in the small theater that St John Paul II frequently used, a former chapel used to care for the wounded during World War I.

Divine Mercy has been embraced and enthusiastically promoted by St John Paul II’s successors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

In the 1930s, Our Lord revealed to an unknown religious sister a message for our times. To an age marked by conflict, despair, lack of respect for human life and dignity, and in need of His forgiveness and merciful love. He said – “Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 300).

The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception served as consultants for this 120-minute docudrama that was written and directed by Michal Kondrat. 

“Divine Mercy is changing millions of lives, but most Christians are still unaware of the power of the message that Jesus gave to humanity through Sr. Faustina, a simple Polish nun who is now a saint,” said Michael Kondrat, whose previous films include “Two Crowns,” dedicated to the life of St Maximilian Kolbe.

Filmed in English, “Love and Mercy: Faustina” dramatizes key moments in St Faustina’s life and the difficulties and triumphs that accompanied the spread of the message following her death in 1938.

One day this poor, faithful Polish farm girl with little formal education has her life irreversibly upturned when Jesus appears to her in a vision. Jesus commissions her to proclaim the truth of His mercy in order to prepare the world for His final coming.

Featured scenes include her call from Jesus to enter the convent; her relationship with Fr. Michael Sopocko, the priest sent by Christ to help her carry out her mission; the often frustrating process of creating the Divine Mercy Image, as Jesus requested; her and Fr. Sopocko’s trust in Christ amidst the many spiritual trials; and the handing off of key Divine Mercy documents to a Marian priest, Fr. Joseph Jarzebowski, MIC, who escaped to America to fulfill his promise to promote Divine Mercy.

Interviews with present-day scholars and promoters of her message are interspersed among the dramatic portrayals.

The film breaks new ground with discoveries of original writings from now-Blessed Sopocko. 

The film also delves into the scientific research that shows the identical features of Christ in the Divine Mercy Image to the facial features and figure immortalized on the Shroud of Turin.

Pope John Paul II in his homily at the canonization Mass of St Faustina – Sunday, 30 April 2000 – in St Peter’s Square concluded with these words: “And you, Faustina, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of divine mercy; help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters. May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood. Today, fixing our gaze with you on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope:  Christ Jesus, I trust in you! Jezu, ufam tobie!”  

What People Are Saying

“When the film was over, I just uttered, ‘Wow!'” – Joan Lewis, Rome bureau chief for EWTN.

“Inspiring, insightful and transformative, ‘Love and Mercy: Faustina’ is masterfully done. Divine Mercy is at the heart of the Gospel, and this fascinating docudrama reveals the history, devotion, and power of one of the greatest messages for our times.” – Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, author of No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy.

“The extraordinary message of Divine Mercy as revealed to St Faustina has touched millions of lives around the world. This film will serve as an incredible tool to inspire even more people to follow Christ’s invitation extended to a broken world – a call to turn from sin, receive God’s mercy, and to share that mercy with others.” – Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, director of the Association of Marian Helpers.

“‘Love and Mercy’ takes us right into the heart of the Gospel. Tempted by the evil one, we rejected God’s love and distrusted His plan for our happiness. But God did not abandon us. He sent a Redeemer to save us. He became one of us in history, but He acts with His divine power today even more so on account of our confusion, lack of faith, and increasing separation from Him. This truly inspiring movie takes us on a journey of faith and gives witness to people who accept Him, place confidence in Him, and experience His redemptive and healing effects in their lives.” – Rev. Kaz Chwalek, MIC, the Marians’ provincial superior of the United States and Argentina.

(*) With, and Libreria Editrice Vaticana